How to set objectives if there is no baseline?

Baselines are created for the core “value-generating” processes of the business in the organizations. From the observed measurement data, an organization comes up with various process performance baselines (PPB) periodically. In a software industry, there can be PPBs for coding speed, defect density, productivity, testing speed, review effectiveness etc. Then measurable improvement targets (process performance objectives) are set for the selected processes. Say for example an objective could be to increase the coding speed by 10 % (Definitely some improvement initiatives need to be there to achieve the targets which are above to the current performance). Even, there can be an objective to maintain the performance at current level itself instead of improving upon the same. The process performance objectives are based on

    • the organization’s business objectives
    • the past performance of projects
    • customer requirements

In all these cases organization needs to have a reference value as baseline to know where it is right now. (Otherwise goals will be subjective) Baselines show the current performance measures of an organization. Now assume a case where an organization has just started to collect measurement data. Definitely there won’t be a baseline initially. In this scenario, how the organization will be setting objectives, without a reference baselines

They can have different options as below.

  1. Industry bench marks
  2. The organization can look in to the industry benchmarks. If the organization is performing a similar nature of work as per the contextual information of the industry benchmarks, they can use those values as references for setting targets.
  3. Expert discussions and brainstorming
  4. There might be employees in the organization who are much skilled to come up with some reference values on the critical processes for setting the targets.
  5. Collecting information from similar organization.
  6. The organization can refer baselines of other similar organization via employee contacts and use it as reference values.
  7. Process Performance Models (PPMs)
  8. If there are some prediction models defined, suitable to the requirements of the organization, dependent parameters (y values) can be predicted, assuming organization have some knowledge on the values of the independent parameters(x values)

When a reference value is obtained, organization can build targets upon the same. Once the organization has collected enough data over a period of time, PPBs can be built. Then those PPBs can be used to set targets for coming year. In this way process is continued and baselines are revised on a periodical manner, say on a yearly basis or so.

Add your points if you have got some other methods ‘to set objectives when there is no baseline’

About

The author is a Quality Assurance professional by experience. Part Quantitative data analyst, part consultant for quality and information security practices, part software tester, she is a writer by passion and blogs at https://wordsandnotion.wordpress.com and http://qualitynotion.com/.

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