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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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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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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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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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?