Product development projects, like many other types of projects, often can exceed their planned schedule by 50% to 100%.
Often this is attributed to uncertainty or the unforeseen.
To compensate for this age-old dilemma, managers and project personnel have learned to compensate by adding additional time to their schedule estimates. Yet even when they do, projects still overrun their schedules.
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) is an outgrowth of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) developed by Eliyahu Goldratt to scheduling and managing manufacturing.
TOC focuses on identifying and fixing bottlenecks in order to improve the throughput of the overall system. Likewise, Critical Chain focuses on bottlenecks.
Using the Critical Chain Method, projects can be completed more quickly and with greater scheduling reliability.
The difference between traditional and Critical Chain scheduling is in how uncertainty is managed. In traditional project scheduling, uncertainty is managed by padding task durations, starting work as early as possible, multi-tasking, and focusing on meeting commitment dates.
While Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) delivers all these benefits, CCPM has yet to become the standard in the industry. In some respects, it still seems to qualify as a new technology introduction. In fact, most project manager in the service industry have never heard of it, and an awful lot of training and qualifications make no reference to it. But innovations and new ideas take time to spread.
“Project management change is not needed because we already know how to run projects efficiently.”
Have you ever been relieved that you team embraced a new project management approach only to realize months later that they did not actually execute the new approach?
Project managers who have excellent work track records based on hitting milestones don’t think they need to change. However, simply hitting deadlines hardly tells the full story. Like cruise control, the project will speed up if it running late (by team members working hard to get it back on track, sometimes working weekends and evenings to make it happen), or slow down if the project is early (people relax, maybe shuffling resources to do something more urgent). Projects seek equilibrium around their dates – there is pressure to move things earlier and later. Most project organizations are self-correcting as they try to hit their dates. What actually had to take place to get there is hidden from view, and there is no impetus to finishing projects faster. (The Tyranny of Deadlines, Rob Newbold)
Additionally, too often when you share a new direction with your team, the people in the room will appreciate your logic for change. They may agree with you intellectually. And yet there is a more emotional side of them that has grown comfortable with the old way of doing things. They’ve been practicing routine A for years. They are very good at routine A. Now you’re trying to get them to change to routine B. Even if they agree that B is better than A, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy the next day (Dan Heath).
The urge to resist having to learn this new way of doing things is powerful.
Agile BPM can transform your business by managing structured and unstructured business processes — with the flexibility to improve those processes on the fly — for unsurpassed business responsiveness and success.
Is Your BPM Solution Agile Enough?
Clearly, BPM has been highly successful at automating predictable, repetitive business processes. But it’s failed to provide similar gains in productivity and efficiency in the most critical area of your business – less predictably, knowledge-based work. The tasks and activities — performed by your most highly skilled and compensated employees — seldom follow the predictable, repeatable paths best suited for traditional BPM. Yet improving these processes can provide enormous lift to corporate performance and to your bottom line.
Your BPM solution must accommodate the entire range of work and support human-driven, system-driven, structured, unstructured, and hybrid processes.
The work of the enterprise is diverse, and increasingly it’s social. Recent studies have shown that as much as 75% of the tasks and activities workers pursue involve judgment and collaboration. In short, professionals are dealing with ad hoc or unstructured business process interactions. The solution you deploy must support how work gets done, via free-flowing, dynamic collaboration among team members.
Today, every organization needs to create a consistent, connected experience for all stakeholders working to execute key business processes including: customers, employees and partners. This vision requires a comprehensive system that supports people in achieving their business goals, wherever and however they happen to work. The following are 9 ways to make this vision a reality.
#1 – A common point of access
Stakeholders need a single, device-independent repository where they can find and access all of the digital tools they need to interact with the business – an ‘enterprise process store’ of available processes, to ensure ease of access, visibility of use and consistent governance.
Xpeditor addresses the full spectrum of business processes, from automated to ad hoc, in a single package.
#2 – A 360 degree view of interactions
Stakeholders are increasingly working across multiple topics and they need to gain a dynamic, ‘at a glance’ view of their range of ongoing tasks. They need to replace siloed, app-centric views with one which visualizes their total backlog of work holistically across all processes and systems.
By having all the organization’s processes, projects, and tasks in a single place, it is easy to get a holistic view of what work is being done for a given customer in real-time.
The health, competitive power, and even survival of an enterprise largely depends on its ability to understand and harness the power of knowledge workers who are enabled to take responsibility for providing automatic solutions to meet many of their business needs.
– IBM System Journal, SOA Meets Situational Applications: Examples and Lessons Learned
The speed and efficiency of a responsive organization can only occur if people think for themselves and control their own actions. The notion that some central person can do all the thinking for everyone is a quaint idea from the days of the industrial revolution, when we lived in a slower, simpler and more predictable world.
– Michael Hugos, Business Agility: Sustainable prosperity in a relentlessly competitive world
Knowledge workers are required to make decisions and judgments based on their knowledge.
For decades, many IT organizations have been dealing with developers outside of the IT department as if they were insurgents – their weapons were Excel and Access.
–Mike Rollings (Gartner), Citizen Development: Reinventing the Shadows of IT
Knowledge workers need to use multiple systems to get their work done, often with a combination of enterprise process applications, other data sources, and end-user computing tools such as spreadsheets. They frequently have to work around the predefined process in some way, especially for collaboration and customer communication. The systems may be augmented or integrated in an ad hoc, unsupported manner in an attempt to improve the functionality and information context, which is why automating workflows is so important.
Few organizations, until now, have actively supported the efforts of their knowledge workers to solve problems themselves.
But this doesn’t mean that knowledge workers have simply accepted this. They have gone off and found whatever tools they could to help them get their jobs done.
The tools knowledge workers use today to help them achieve their objectives are like the land of mutant toys.
Value creation is more and more based on intellectual activity rather than manual dexterity or brute strength. But we continue to use the management and organizational structures that worked for the factory and the field. Here success was determined by standardization and efficiency. These in turn demanded adherence to a set procedure. We used people as cogs in a machine when we could not devise a machine to do the job.
Ian James, The Process Consultant
For the past two decades, much of the focus for information technology deployment has been on automating or even eliminating less-skilled jobs. This has been largely effective, and organizations today are able to do far more with fewer people. Workers today spend less of their time on routine tasks than was possible just ten years ago.
These types of automated systems are givens, commodities that can add little additional value to the organization. What are left are the unstructured business processes that have received little attention from management until now.
Harnessing and coordinating these unstructured processes in a way that provides customers with a consistent, cohesive and agile experience is what is needed to become a Customer focused company.How do these unstructured processes manifest themselves in the organization?