How to measure and improve success in your engineering team

January 15, 2022

Engineering projects often measure success by jobs completed, but this isn’t always the best way to keep track of progress. To determine if your engineering team is working as efficiently as possible, regular check-ins can be beneficial. This will allow your team to voice their concerns and suggest improvements to the workflow.

Measuring success is only one part of the struggle. You then need to know how to put measures in place to improve on this success. Engineering teams that can work together more effectively can achieve a lot more than a team made up of multiple conflicting personalities.

Measuring and improving success rates for your engineering team is not something that can happen overnight. Implementing these types of changes requires consistency, transparency and trust from your team. But once you have cracked the secret to successful engineering teams, you will be able to unlock hidden potential.

Why measure success?

If projects are getting finished, why even bother measuring success? The simple reason is that there is always room for improvement. By identifying and fixing the small and often hard to pin down inefficiencies in your teams, you can improve productivity. 

Productive teams are also happier and more motivated, so you can also use success as a way to improve working conditions for your team. Gathering this essential feedback will ensure you are creating an engaging workplace that will help you to attract the best workers.

Success is about more than just a job well done. It also ties into productivity, worker satisfaction and how you can attract the right people to your organisation.


What KPIs can you use to measure success?

The important thing to remember when setting your KPIs is that you should always refine your focus. The K in KPI stands for ‘key’, so if you have multiple conflicting KPIs for your team to think about, you run the risk of losing focus. When everything is important, nothing is important.

Instead, focus on the KPIs that will deliver change. What will move the needle? What will make life easier for your teams? What will make for better outcomes?

You also need to make sure that every KPI is also a SMART goal. This means that it should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. By setting SMART KPIs, your team will know exactly what is expected of them.

When choosing which KPIs to track, you need to be consistent and transparent about your approach. Your team will not be satisfied with an arbitrary definition of success. If you are going to expect accountability from your team, you need to be able to offer transparency and consistency in return.

Nothing will damage team morale quite like continually moving the goalposts, so make sure you are transparent in your approach and offer some consistency when setting and evaluating your approach.

What does success look like in engineering?

This all depends on what is important to your organisation. You might be concerned with delivering projects on time, on budget, or reducing your internal running costs. 

You might value the number of new clients you bring on board, percentage of revenue from existing versus new clients, or repeat business rate. 

And finally, you might take a more holistic approach. Your goals might be focused on team satisfaction, client satisfaction and recognition of your efforts from the wider community.

Think about what matters to your organisation and then use these core values to shape your KPIs. Gathering regular team feedback from your engineers will also help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. 

For example, if your team is concerned you are outsourcing too much, this could be a valuable metric to keep track of. Communication problems between teams could also be a target for improvement.

Steps to improve success

Steps to improve success

Once you have identified what success looks like, it’s time to dig down deep to learn what is standing in the way of each goal. Speaking to your team and gathering feedback from clients will help you to identify any potential snags in your systems. You can also look through old customer feedback to determine if past complaints and comments have been dealt with efficiently.

Sometimes small changes are all that are needed to help your team overcome these issues. But sometimes you need a radical new approach to the way you do things. Turning systems on their head, pulling them apart and learning why they don’t work is a process that should be very familiar to engineers. Yet so many neglect to do this in their own work.

Encouraging regular reviews of processes to determine what works and what doesn’t should be encouraged. And if implemented changes don’t make things better, don’t be afraid to pivot again. Through continual assessment of your goals and what constitutes success, you can make engineering teams more successful and cohesive.

How do you motivate an engineering team?

Now that you have a definition of success that makes sense to your organisation, it’s time to think about how you can take steps to improve. Investing in technology can help to streamline certain processes, but this will only take you so far. You also need to focus on the workers that will be using the technology.

Your engineering team is the lifeblood of your organisation. They are the ones that will drive forth innovation, or completely stifle it. Given the right conditions, your team will increase profit margins, improve delivery timescales and boost client satisfaction. But without the right support, they could achieve the opposite.

An engineering team needs to work effectively together, and this requires a sense of trust, respect and accountability. When workers feel accountable to more than just themselves, they are driven to improve. 

By putting the systems in place to allow them to achieve their best work, you can improve the working environment for your team, drive better results, and push your business forward. But none of this can happen until you know precisely what success looks like in your organisation.

Nolan Recruitment is a Specialist Engineering Recruitment Agency. One of the UK's best Engineering & Technical Recruiter

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