Kanban your way to breakthrough profitability

Does this scenario sound familiar?

  • Your account management/sales team has committed delivery to a customer on a certain date crash
  • As you get closer to delivery, realization dawns that the commitment is in jeopardy
  • Work is expedited. Wait a minute! Now that you stop to think about it, someone is always expediting work to meet delivery commitments
  • “We need more people” constantly echoes down the hallways
  • Coordination between various teams to deliver your project or product is a herculean effort; work appears to be backed up randomly within different teams
  • Project is a wreak
  • After weeks and weekends of frantic activity, the lessons learned are the usual suspects: get better at estimating, hire more people, add more process to ensure accountability or a variation thereof
  • Your account management/sales team has committed delivery to a customer on a certain date …

This never ending loop continues. You know what I am talking about. You’ve been there. I can, however, guarantee you that you have more capacity that you think. You don’t need to hire more people to improve throughput. On the contrary, you need to reduce your work-in-progress. Counter intuitive? Yes. I can tell from experience that it is true. Why don’t you try it out yourself – within your span of control? Experiment, learn, adapt. Continue Reading →

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My Project World Business Analyst World talk: from waterfall to agile

waterfall to agile If you believe that change is the only constant, ever so often, we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. We need to tell ourselves, “I am not entirely sure how this is going to play out. But we need to do something different to achieve (insert your business objective here) because the current way of doing things isn’t doing a great job of keeping us one step ahead of our competition.”

When I was invited to speak at the Project World Business Analyst World in Moncton this year, I chose to talk about my experiences adopting lean and agile tools and moving away from waterfall where it makes sense. Now, delivering a session at any conference typically follows a similar routine. Submissions from speakers are invited. A selection committee reviews and selects the speakers. The speaker prepares a PowerPoint. At the conference, the talk is dominated by the speaker with questions from the audience sprinkled in. This is beginning to look like a waterfall approach.

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Transforming from waterfall to agile

FlowIntroducing agility into traditional systems development processes is never easy. Firstly, you have got to want to change. Secondly, you need to have a vision of what to change to. Finally, you need the tenacity to forge ahead in the face of stiff resistance. It is usually the third that is the most difficult journey to undertake. The hardest part of the journey is during the transition wherein you show how to bring agility into executing projects. You are walking the fine line between traditional methodology and incrementally introducing change.

One of the challenges during the transition is the question,” how do I know if the project is on track?” Despite all the conversations around introducing agility, when the rubber hits the road, it always comes back to “are the tasks on the critical path late?” or “what’s the project CPI and SPI?” or a variation thereof. Critical path and earned value concepts are deeply ingrained into our psyche. It is not easy to let go. Continue Reading →

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