Tag: Theory of Constraints


Kanban, process design and unintended consequences

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 accept that any real life situation, no matter how complex it initially looks, is actually, once understood, embarrassingly simple!” How true.


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

Project managers are in a constant tug-of-war amongst themselves and the resource managers for people. The goal of the project manager is to complete the project on time, on budget and deliver to the scope. The goal of the resource manager is to ensure the maximum utilization of the people who report to him/her.


Speed up project delivery using Critical Chain

Critical Chain is an application of Theory of Constraints (ToC) first proposed by Eli Goldratt. The premise of ToC is that just as a strength of a chain is determined by its weakest link, the throughput of any system is determined by its constraint or the bottleneck. In any system, there will be just one or two constraint/s that determines throughput.

If we consider a project as a set of dependent events; a.k.a. a chain, then the critical path is the project constraint. The length of the critical path dictates when the project can be completed. Any task that is late on a critical path makes the project late. However, the critical path assumes resources are available 100% of the time. This is an incorrect assumption especially if you are working in a matrix organizational structure. The resource you need might only be available 50% of the time. Your project schedule should reflect this.


On estimating project tasks

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.

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