knowing the score
Read on to find out more about our approach.
Every assessment should be worth doing. It helps to have clear answers to the following questions.
|Purpose||What is the assessment intended to achieve?|
|Scope||What is being assessed?
What can it be compared with?
|Focus||What aspects are being assessed?|
|What evaluation criteria are relevant?
Is there a standard model or benchmark?
|How is the assessment to be performed?
Who is taking which roles?
|Follow-Up||What are the likely or possible outcomes?
How will these be implemented?
Managers commission assessments for a variety of explicit reasons and hidden agendas. Some assessments are intended to fail.
To justify a decision already taken. To find ways of keeping something. Prove that it's okay as it is. Or show that it could be okay, with just a few minor changes. To justify throwing something out and replacing it. Prove that it's fundamentally flawed or obsolete. Prove that something else would be much better. As a post-mortem, to find out what can be rescued or learned from something that is perceived to have failed. As an opening move in a genuinely open attempt to improve things.
Veryard Projects is only interested in healthy assessments that have an open and positive agenda.
Our consultancy assignments often start with an evaluation or assessment of something.
|Business Strategy / Process|
|Requirement / Plan / Contingency|
|IT Service / Provision / Process|
|IT Solution / Architecture|
We need to understand clearly WHAT is being evaluated, and WHAT (if anything) it is being compared with.
Each assessment usually has a primary focus - but other aspects of assessment may also need to be considered.
Many standard assessment approaches concentrate on conformance. An operation is assessed for conformance to a large set of rules and procedures, regardless of whether these rules and procedures yield any real benefit for the operation. Such assessment approaches are often seen and practised as bureaucratic deadweight - although when used intelligently they can still be useful.
An assessment is carried out against an explicit value system. A set of evaluation criteria, preferably ranked and weighted. Or a model or standard, which provides a structured framework for a class of assessments, as well as a basis for comparison and benchmarking.
There are various models in the public domain that can be used for assessment. These include:
Business Excellence ISO SPICE
Analysis and Synthesis
An assessment should be communicated - preferably in the first instance to those with power, proximity and interest.
An assessment should result in both action and learning.
An assessment usually provides a snapshot at the time of assessment. This often gets out-of-date very quickly. Small details found by the assessment are likely to be altered, even if the underlying problems have not really been fixed. Sometimes evidence will be destroyed, either deliberately by people wishing to conceal the extent of a problem, or accidently by people clumsily trying to fix the problem. Sometimes it is useful to install some mechanism to keep the assessment findings up-to-date.
Lack of ParticipationThe authority of an assessment report depends on the perceived independence and expertise of the assessors, and their access to relevant information. People who feel threatened by an assessment will try to undermine it by various means, including withholding information or participation.
An assessment is carried out as a combination of self-assessment (in workshops and interviews) and audit, and results in an assessment report. (You can think of this as similar to a house-buyer's survey, with recommendations for additional specialist surveys where appropriate.)
Our assessors are happy to advise separately on planning and implementing improvements, but this is not included in the assessment itself.
Copyright © 1999 Veryard Projects Ltd