Unlocking the secret to accurately forecast product releases

Charan/ March 5, 2024/ Agile/ 0 comments

Are you using Monte Carlo analysis to project deliverables? At its core, forecasting represents a sophisticated optimization challenge, one that seeks to minimize schedule subject to budgetary constraints. This equation is subject to myriad of variables including understanding and prioritization of work, order of execution, allocation of skilled personnel, and the ever present spectre of risks. Agile, while attempting to be nimble, often side-steps the intricate dance of optimization in favour of adaptability and speed. Practiced well, organizations have benefited strategically from this speed and adaptability as is evidenced by modern technology organizations. Enterprise ITs, however, in an attempt to reinvent themselves are failing miserably at becoming good at either.

Implementing Kanban

Charan/ April 28, 2018/ Agile

While implementing Kanban is easy, teams struggle with its implementation. It is important to start slowly when implementing it and eventually make adjustments to the way you practice Kanban. Reaching mastery takes time and there is plenty to be learned and experienced beforehand so take your time and be patient in advancing.

The agile mindset – what does it mean?

Charan/ July 26, 2016/ Agile

Blend the principles of flow, queues, theory of constraints, Lean, and Six Sigma to concoct a very powerful message that I have come to believe over the years: ‘You’ve got more capacity than you think! ™ Use existing capacity to do more The Kanban Way. Blend the principles of flow, queues, theory of constraints, Lean, and Six Sigma to concoct

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The value of value stream mapping in software engineering

Charan/ March 15, 2015/ Agile

“We are Agile. We don’t need to follow a process”, declared Chris. Tina was aghast. “How do you think we deliver solutions, Chris?” “What do you mean? We do Agile. We follow Scrum. We don’t follow processes like the Waterfall guys do.  We neither need a whole lot of planning nor documentation. We don’t do BDUF (big design upfront). We love

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Journey to becoming a lean & agile family

Charan/ February 18, 2015/ Agile

Having been a student of Lean and Agile for a number of years now, we started adopting it in bits and pieces within our family. Here’s some examples of lean and agile in action in our personal lives.

Kanban your way to breakthrough profitability

Charan/ July 19, 2014/ Agile

Kanbans are an unbelievably simple way to improve throughput. It does not require you to begin with significant change which most process improvement initiatives do. It helps you experiment within your span of control and learn through those simple non-threatening experiments.

Transforming from waterfall to agile

Charan/ January 12, 2013/ Agile

Introducing 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

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The power of pull

Charan/ August 13, 2012/ Agile

Joe sighed and returned to his desk. He had been waiting for Jane to provide him with information for the last two days. If Jane could only take a few hours to do it, he could get on with his work and check it off his list. Instead he would now have to wait for a week before Jane can

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Scope creep? Bring it on

Charan/ May 21, 2012/ Agile

Ask any project manager the reasons why projects fail and one of the reasons cited will definitely be scope creep. But is scope creep really that bad? I don’t think so. Your view of the scope creep will depend on how you manage projects. You can manage projects as a contract or you can collaborate. I think there will be

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You’ve got more capacity than you think

Charan/ May 11, 2012/ Agile

In the current era of economic uncertainty, there is no dearth of gloom and doom news. Europe, Asia, the Americas all have fallen like dominoes to the credit crisis of 2008. Austerity measures have been put in place in a number of countries. Economies are spiraling downward. There is talk of the breakup of the Eurozone with Greece being the

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The journey from “Sure” to “No” to “Not now”

Charan/ April 18, 2012/ Agile

Recently I was invited to a meeting where the discussion was how to implement Kanban within the team. During the course of the conversation I said, “… we need to start saying “No” more often…” A colleague smiled, “Coming from you, that’s quite a change” I consider customers to be the greatest assets an organization can have and have always

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How to implement critical chain project management across the enterprise

Charan/ March 27, 2012/ Agile

I have frequently been asked – how would you actually implement Critical Chain project management? But before I get to that, why would you want to implement critical chain? If you work in an organization that follows traditional project management practices, it is likely that critical chain project management may appeal to your PMO. You can most likely follow the

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Flow in traditional project management process

Charan/ March 4, 2012/ Agile

Traditional project management works this way: Charter the project – include scope, ROM budget and ROM timelines Create a business requirements document. All requirements needs to be documented upfront and signed off by the customer. To me this is a contract that says what we will deliver. Architect then designs the solution. S/he provides technical specification to developers. Somewhere along

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Implement Kanban: Implement virtuous cycle of ongoing improvement

Charan/ February 19, 2012/ Agile

The hardest thing about implementing the Kanban is the paradigm shift in policies it leads to. “How can just visualizing work and limiting work improve throughput?” It’s so counter-intuitive. However, the very act of visualizing and limiting work highlights bottlenecks as they appear, giving you a chance to fix things before they become big issues. Implementing Kanban enterprise-wide, however, will

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Predict project failure using cumulative flow diagrams

Charan/ February 12, 2012/ Agile

One of the biggest challenges I face as a project manager is the ability to predict the project or program’s future. What impact would the change request have on the project? Are we going fast enough to meet the program deadlines? Are the team’s estimates good enough? Assuming the team will meet most of its estimates, what can we do

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Portfolio management using Kanban and Critical Chain

Charan/ January 1, 2012/ Agile

Happy New Year to all my readers My first post of 2012. 2011 has been a very interesting year. Back in October Mike Burrows (PositiveIncline.com) and I briefly communicated on how Kanban could scale to manage project portfolio. I particularly liked his post “Kanban in its portfolio context“. Now, if you have been following my blog or have been at

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Kanban saves the day

Charan/ December 5, 2011/ Agile

I was brought in to deliver a project on-time with less than 2 months remaining. While the project scope and deliverables were clear, getting to the solution was not. R&D was required to get some of the features delivered and that was expected to take up a significant amount of time. The team was cross functional and dispersed – from

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Agile project management using Kanban and Theory of Constraints

Charan/ November 26, 2011/ Agile

I recently presented “Agile Project Management using Kanban & Theory of Constraints” at the PMI-NB lunch-and-learn and at Project World Business Analyst World Atlantic Canada. Since I got a lot of requests for the presentation, I figured this would be an easier way to distribute it to everyone. Feel free to write to me with comments, questions or clarifications. You

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Why Kanban for software engineering matters

Charan/ November 22, 2011/ Agile

Joe sighed and returned to his desk. He had been waiting for Jane to provide him with information for the last two days. If Jane could only take a few hours to do it, he could get on with his work and check it off his list. Instead he would now have to wait for a week before Jane can

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Kanban, process design and unintended consequences

Charan/ November 12, 2011/ Agile

A few years ago we embarked on developing a complex data acquisition solution to solve a business problem. Fast forward to successful project completion. On being complimented, one of the lead developers on the project said, “What we deployed was exceedingly simple. It wasn’t rocket science”. I was reminded of Goldratt’s statement, “… the key to problem solving is to

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Combining Critical Chain and Kanban to improve capacity

Charan/ November 6, 2011/ Agile

“I like it. Your idea of using the Kanban board to review deliverables and issues is awesome. And I really like your buffer chart. Now I can see if the project is in trouble before that happens.” These were the words from a customer. Music to my ears. It has been close to two years since I embarked on the

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How Kanban resolves the resource manager and project manager’s dilemma

Charan/ October 23, 2011/ Agile

The goal of the project manager is to complete the project on time, on budget and deliver to the scope. In order to accomplish this, the project manager creates a detailed schedule for each person on the project. In a matrix organization, the people are, however, answerable to the resource manager. The goal of the resource manager is to ensure

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Forget project post-mortems, predict project failure

Charan/ October 13, 2011/ Agile

The buffer penetration line crept up with renewed intensity. Worse, this was the second week it remained in the Red zone. My earlier conversations with the powers that be did not appear to help. Developers were being pulled into higher priority tasks. But now I had data. A week of people unable to work to the plan meant the project

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Making Kanban work in matrix organizations

Charan/ October 10, 2011/ Agile

  “Having allocated developers to the project and ensuring that they knew what needed to be accomplished, I was feeling very good about the project. After all, we had commitments from the team. Over the next few days, however, I realized that the team was not able to work on my project at all. Other high priority work demanded their

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Speed up project delivery using Critical Chain

Charan/ September 28, 2011/ Agile

We talked about the following issues (On estimating project tasks) that prevent projects from completing on time: Milestone Management: Working to meet task deadlines or milestones Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill (and even exceed) the allocated time Student Syndrome: Negotiate safety into tasks (by extending the deadline) and use the safety upfront. Scramble towards the end to get the

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On estimating project tasks

Charan/ September 18, 2011/ Agile

Estimation is one of the most important components of project management. In my opinion it is second only to the creation of a work breakdown structure (WBS). Project schedule and costs are directly impacted by accuracy of the estimation. Whenever I bring up the subject of estimation as a topic of discussion, invariably someone will mention: “We typically end up underestimating the amount of time needed to complete tasks – especially unfamiliar tasks.” The one common theme that resonated was that everyone was reasonably confident that the tasks would be finished on time. After all, they did add safety to tasks to account for variation. So if we had safety protecting the tasks, why then do we not finish projects on time? Before we look at answering this question, let’s briefly look at the principle behind Theory of Constraints.

No such thing as multitasking

Charan/ August 31, 2011/ Agile

It was a perfect spring evening. Dinner was over, dishes done and the daughter tucked in for the night. A conversation with the wife ensues. Then the phone rings. Turns out the caller had the very answer we needed to put us out of our long distance calling miseries.  Grrr… Looking to resume the conversation after hanging up nosily we

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Importance of Kanban work-in-progress (WIP) limits

Charan/ January 16, 2011/ Agile

Traffic Jams! For some it is the bane of driving. Accidents, construction, reduced speed zones are all some of the root causes. But did you know of Phantom Traffic Jams? For no apparent reason the traffic slows to a crawl. No accidents or lane closures and there is no easy way out. Researchers have linked such phantom traffic jams to traffic density and variations in driver behavior. A trivial reason such as a driver braking too hard, can cause a phantom traffic jam 8 to 10 kms behind. And this traffic jam takes a life of its own. You could spend hours within that jam. So what does phantom traffic jams have to do with WIP limits on Kanban for software development?

Lean software development using Kanban

Charan/ January 13, 2011/ Agile

Kanban is a Japanese term that literally means “signboard”. in its strictest sense, it is essentially a scheduling system that “signals” what to produce, when to produce and how much to produce. As you will see, Kanban is a pull system. Work gets pulled by the people who actually do the work based on their availability. Kanban can lay over your existing process and asks you to follow just three basic principles:
Visualize your workflow, limit your work in progress, and only start new work when you have finished some existing work.