In our Agile Safety Management series, we have spend a lot of time and words describing the methodology, but most of our content so far has been about the what and the how of Agile Safety Management. We wanted to take some time out from talking about what Agile Safety Management is to tell you about the why. It is important to understand what you can gain from the system to know whether or not it’s worth it to switch. We know that Agile Safety Management is a pretty large shift from how many safety teams are normally run, so in this blog post we’re going to lay out some of the things you can learn using the Agile Safety Management system and how you can use them to improve your safety operations.
One of the biggest benefits of Agile Safety Management is that the system will allow teams to measure new metrics and results that have been very difficult to do otherwise. These new metrics allow teams to operate more effectively, improve communication, identify time sinks, and increase transparency.
5 Metrics for Agile Safety Management
1. Time Spent by Category of Work
One of the most important things for an effective team is to make sure that all team members are spending time on the right things. But do you know what your team really spends their time on? During the course of work, unplanned tasks and emergencies pop up, taking team members away from strategically important work. Time Spent allows you to measure where you team is really spending its time.
Agile Safety teams can then use this information to become more strategic and efficient. If distractions and busy work are taking up too much time, teams can address ways to alleviate these things in order to spend time on what really matters.
There are two times to look at time spent. At the beginning of every sprint, teams should be asking themselves what is important over the next two weeks. Once planning is complete, teams can look at the Projected Time Spent breakdown to see if the planned tasks match expectations.
At the end of a sprint, the team should also reflect on time spent. Unplanned tasks may have come up and taken time away from strategically important work. The Actual TIme Spent breakdown can let you know where team members are really spending their time. If distractions and busy work are taking up too much time, teams can address ways to alleviate these things in order to spend time on what really matters.
In Agile Safety Management, all tasks are assigned a numeric value, which can be defined in terms of effort or time needed for completion. Each task can also be tagged to a certain category of work done. The breakdown can then be created by finding the percent of time spent on a certain category.
2. Speed of Completion
Every task that a team member works on is going to take a certain amount of time to complete. Speed to Completion is the average amount of time each type of task takes across your teams.
This metric is a great way to identify time sinks and work that can be done more efficiently. If you discover that reporting is taking up way too much of your team’s time, then if might make sense to look for ways to make that more efficient. Stepping back and evaluating the most important pieces of information needed for the report and then creating a form that auto-generates the rest of the report might be an option in this case.
Speed to Completion is determined after sprints. Ideally, it should be done after several sprints to take a look at the average instead of a single task.
Every task has a start date and an end date. The task is started when it moves from the To-Do list and is finished when it moves to the Done list. The duration between the two dates is what we want to look at here, if possible averaged over several sprints and multiple team members.
Every task has the potential for obstacles that come up and keep a team member from completing it. It is inevitable in the course of work that you need something from someone else to finish your work. You might need a report from a supervisor or you might need to put training on hold until after the holidays. Good teams regularly discuss and address these roadblocks.
Obstacles should be brought up and addressed each day during the daily stand-up meeting. Team members can then discuss ways to help resolve the obstacle right away to allow the task to be completed.
Teams also do reflection at the end of sprints (or after several sprints) to find common obstacles and then find proactive ways to prevent them in the future.
This one is pretty straightforward. If an obstacle comes up that is keeping work from getting done, try to resolve it. If it can’t be resolved right away, note it and bring it up at the next stand-up, or sooner if it is urgent.
4. Planned Time vs. Unplanned Time
A good team is one that is able to efficiently plan and work on important tasks. Not getting done the tasks that were planned means that the team is not making progress on the things that truly matter.
Safety teams can never fully eliminate unplanned work, but teams who track and reflect on these unexpected tasks can begin to understand how to anticipate and mitigate these interruptions to strategic work, rather than solely react to them.
Teams should evaluate planned vs. unplanned time at the end of each sprint.
Unplanned work is any task that gets added to a sprint that is ongoing. At the end of a sprint, teams can see how many tasks were added and how much time was spent working on them. One thing to look out for in particular is if any important tasks were left incomplete because of what came up during the spring.
You can plan for unplanned work. When planning for work to be done in sprints, simply only plan for a certain percentage of team member time and allocate the rest to items that come up during the sprint.
5. Progress Towards Company Goals
In the pursuit of high functioning teams that get a lot of work done, it’s important to not lose sight of the bigger picture. Care should be taken to continue to evaluate how the work being done is contributing towards the company’s vision and goals.
Good Agile Safety teams will combine the Agile Safety system with the company’s vision for safety. The vision is used as a template to know what tasks are worth working on and to keep unimportant tasks out of the queue.
This should be an ongoing process, but is good to check during sprint reviews and prior to sprint planning.
Teams should constantly evaluate new tasks and sprint plans against company goals to make sure that they are working on the most important topics. When possible, teams should come up with complete task lists for projects and track project progress as a percent of tasks completed.
Teams should also evaluate tasks to see if any work being done is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Upon reflection, the team should try to eliminate some of the tasks that aren’t contributing.