The Problem with Projects
Getting projects done both faster and with greater reliability requires effectively dealing with uncertainty. Traditional project management attempts this by tightly controlling tasks and milestones based on the belief that if individual tasks are completed on time, the project will as well. There are two problems with this approach, and both are related to human behaviors. Adding safety margins to protect promised dates to cover for uncertainties (Murphy’s Law) and the expansion of lead-time to fill the time allowed (Parkinson’s Law) lead to schedules that are much longer than necessary.
Leanmap Project Acceleration (LPA)
To accelerate projects, we apply Lean techniques to critical chain scheduling and buffer management, allowing a full system view of projects. By doing so, we reconcile the two conflicting aspects of projects, the increasingly need for speed in project delivery and the equally important need for reliability in delivering the project as promised. Our acceleration program deals with uncertainty to deliver project outcomes with certainty by preventing the expansion of project lead-time (Parkinson’s Law) at the task level, while accounting for uncertainties (Murphy’s Law) at the project level. There are four principles:
Fist step is connecting interdependent activities on the critical path. By doing so, we crate flow along the critical chain, the longest sequence of activities in a project plan which must be completed on time for the project to complete on the due date. An activity on the critical path cannot be started until its predecessor activity is complete; if it is delayed for a day, the entire project will be delayed for a day unless the activity following the delayed activity is completed a day earlier.
Second step is creating an aggressive schedule solely based on activity times, rather than comfortable lead times with large buffers to cover for Murphy’s law (uncertainties) and Perkinson’s law (expansion). Because safety is completely stripped away from individual tasks, it eliminates procrastination while taking advantage of early finishes. To protect from unknowns, a single project buffer is added at the end of the schedule, between planned completion of the last activity and the due date.
Third step is shifting management focus from monitoring tasks completion dates to securing critical resources to be available when required. Starting a task immediately after the predecessor task has been completed takes advantage of early finishes. Project managers are then charged with the responsibility to protect critical project resources from interruptions while controlling of the project based on the utilization of the buffers.
Step four is adding buffers to protect the project schedule and safety margins. Pooling task buffers and adding them at the end of the critical chain creates the project buffer. Feeding buffer are placed at the end of each path that feed into the critical path. Resource buffers are virtual tasks inserted just before the critical chain tasks that require critical resources, acting as a trigger point for the resource. Those three types of buffers protect the schedule from delays and managers from the pitfall of traditional project management.
Faster to Market
We help shortening product development and manufacturing lead-time by typically 30%, and even up to 80% when the value chain configuration is ineffective. Contact us to get to market faster.