Core Functions On this page:

What makes up controlling

"It is an immutable law in business that words are words,
explanations are explanations, promises are promises
but only performance is reality."

-- Harold S. Geneen, CEO of ITT Corp.

This aspect of management has a bad name. some people shudder at the suggestion of authoritarianism. Yet, it is essential to success and needn't be done in a dictatorial way. The alternative to controlling is "out of control".

We also see the activities here as filling a need for project administration to be accountable -- to its membership and to the general public.

Managerial controlling consists of assessing and regulating work in progress and evaluating results attained, taking action when indicated.

The two basic methods of controlling are


"Without a standard there is no logical basis for making a decision or taking action."
-- Joseph M. Juran, professor and consultant

Managers set performance standards to determine the criteria for measuring work and results. Standards need, as objectives do, to be measurable and realistic.

Some managers are reluctant to commit to tangible & measurable criteria. They may fear revealing deficiencies or be uncertain of the level of performance required. However, administering without standards is like archery without targets; how do you know if an arrow flies true?. Or, like steering a ship without a destination.

Performance standards should

  1. flow from the enterprise's objectives,
  2. be tangible and measurable,
  3. have tolerance limits built in,
  4. be realistic,
  5. be written and widely communicated, and
  6. be reviewed periodically or as conditions change.

In order to serve their purpose, they must receive understanding and acceptance. Standards that don't meet these criteria create more problems than they purport to solve.

TFG Performance Standards

We've developed objective measures (metrics) for assessing performance. We recommend this link. After several years of monitoring the metrics (the rare project to do so), we may now propose tentative standards for assessing performance.

Measurements alone are not, technically, standards because a standard requires a minimum acceptable performance statement. Although more of each is "better" and less is "worse", we hadn't fixed targets, but we think we've identified the critical metrics. Analyzing the numbers over time has suggested possible targets.
  1. Project size

    Assessment as of Summer 2016: Size is adequate for some purposes, but see penetration
  2. Penetration

    is the ratio of DNA-tested Taylors to the Taylor population, usually expressed as number per 100,000. For more about penetration, see this page.
    Standard: 80 per 100,000 (10^5) is a possible penetration index standard.
    Summer 2015: US penetration is adequate, but UK & Ireland penetration is seriously deficient.
  3. Resolution

    measures the adequacy of tests to the purpose of finding genetic cousins Standard: For ySTR, at least 80% testing to 37 markers, 50% testing to 67 markers.
                      For ySNP: ?
    Assessment Summer 2016: Good (better than most projects) and continuing to improve.
  4. Participation

    measures the extent to which members contribute to project quality Standards: EKA >= 90%, GEDCOM >= 25%; Trees >= 50%.
    Assessment Summer 2015: Likely to be a continuing deficiency, as many members are little motivated. The admin challenge is to motivate.
  5. Matches

    (In truth, admins can not change the DNA with which they work; they can only do a competent job at seeing who matches who.) Standard: >= 70% of qualifying members match 1+ other members.
    Assessment Summer 2016: Overall rate better than 50%, >70% after adjusting for inadequate resolution,  NPE & NTP., Less than 30% of those who could conceivably match are matched; this seems a reasonable attainment.
    Comment: Match rates seem to greatly depend on penetration & resolution. Achieve good performance on both and you'll have a good match rate; at low performance for those, the match rate for most surnames is a hit-and-miss prospect.

Other standards

Standards need also be set for various aspects of project work, such as quality. An important one concerns what is considered an adequate ("significant") match and what is not.

Measuring performance

"The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor;
he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me.
The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them."

-- George Bernard Shaw

Managers measure performance by recording and reporting the work done and results attained. The reports must be accurate, timely, concise and understandable. Periodic reporting and consistency over time provide comparability; improvements and regressions become apparent.

The type of measurement will vary with the enterprise. A complex management information system may be needed, or the manager may keep a log.

Data Sources

Some data the admin will need is easily available; some may be difficult to come by. Sources we've used include:

TFG Performance Measurement

We haven't set standards, but we have defined their metrics. The reason (excuse?) for not setting specific targets is that we ventured into unknown territory. (Only one other project admin, to our knowledge, has gone so far as to describe performance metrics.)

It is recommended to periodically (monthly or quarterly) download information from the FTDNA GAP. (For a "how-to", see the page on Performance Monitoring.)

This data provides a snapshot of the project's current status. An ongoing series of snapshots makes a "progress movie". See "Project Status" and scroll down to the performance section. For example,

Depicts improvement in ySTR resolution from Jan 2009 to present

Evaluating performance

"In God we trust, all others bring data."
-- W. Edwards Deming

Evaluating performance consists of analyzing, interpreting, and determining the worth or quality of the work done and the results. Part of evaluating performance is determining whether corrective action is needed.

Evaluation is ever so much easier with good performance standards. 

TFG Performance Evaluation

See "Assessments" above.

  1. Project size: Size is adequate, but see penetration
  2. Penetration: US penetration is adequate, but UK & Ireland penetration seriously deficient
  3. Participation: Likely to be a continuing deficiency, as many members are insufficiently motivated. The admin challenge is to motivate.
  4. Matches: Seems reasonable. Overall rate better than 50%, >70% after adjusting for inadequate resolution,& NPE & NTP., Less than 30% of those who could conceivably match are not matched with at least one other project member.

Correcting performance

"What gets measured gets done,
what gets measured and fed back gets done well,
what gets rewarded gets repeated."

-- John E. Jones
"...If you can't control it, you can't improve it."
-- H. James Harrington

Correcting performance follows on the heels of evaluating it. It's about rectifying or improving the work being done and the results. The direction and degree of course correction -- with proper standards and monitoring -- should be obvious from the evaluations.

This may involve technical changes, a procedural adjustment here, a re-training there. Or, it may require management action -- better communication, new or improved plans or organizational structure or system of controls. The latter are typically longer-term solutions.

TFG Performance Correction

The next steps, dear new admin, in correcting the project's performance are up to you.

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