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Dear Workforce How Can We Evaluate The Technical Proficiency Of Software Designers

Evaluate their performance against several measures, including quantity, quality, timeliness, and cost.
February 27, 2002
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Related Topics: Basic Skills Training, Performance Appraisals, Dear Workforce
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QDear Workforce:

Our software designers are managed through a project management department.Their supervisor is the director of project management, who is not highlytechnical. How can we effectively evaluate these individuals' technical skillsin performance appraisals?

- Looking for answers, director, Human Resources, software/systems, Toledo,Ohio.

A Dear Looking:

Effective performance management systems measure two components ofperformance: outcomes or results (the "whats" of a job), andknowledge, skills, and behavior (the "hows" of a job). A technicallyskilled software designer should be able to complete all assigned projects (andperhaps more) on time, within budget, without an unreasonable number of bugs orrework. So one way to evaluate technical skill is to agree upon specificmeasures of quantity, quality, timeliness, and cost and then to evaluateperformance against those expectations. These measures are also the foundationof good project management so the supervisor and designer should be able toagree on important "whats" and metrics.

Measuring the "hows" is more challenging, especially for asupervisor who is not "highly technical." Although some measures ofquantity, quality, timeliness, and cost also could be used to measure knowledge,skill and competency, it's usually more subjective than results measures. Giventhat software technology is ever changing, one way to measure technical skill isto use the completion of training courses and certifications as outcomes.Another way to measure technical skill is to get feedback from others,especially technical experts and end users or customers, on the quality andefficiency of the processes the designer uses to complete projects.

One of the keys to success is the involvement of the designer in settingexpectations, collecting data, and tracking progress throughout the year. Thishelps change the role of the supervisor from evaluator to coach, which hopefullyputs the supervisor in the position of providing support, resources, and advice,breaking down barriers, and helping to solve problems rather than evaluating orjudging technical expertise.

SOURCE: Jim Concelman, production manager, Development DimensionsInternational, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, Sept. 5, 2001.

LEARN MORE: See "Six Steps Toward MeaningfulPerformance Management"

The information contained in thisarticle is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, butshould not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember thatstate laws may differ from the federal law.

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