One of the major factors affecting time-to-market is an overloaded project pipeline and overloaded resources. It is often tempting to start another important development project when there is little visibility into the current project pipeline and the impact of development resources. However, queueing theory and pipeline management principals have shown that as resource utilization goes up, queue time dramatically increases and projects are slowed significantly.
Lean product development principles and practices and the theory of constraints indicate that the following actions should be taken to reduce time-to-market and improve overall throughput.
- Use portfolio management to prioritize projects and plan what can be accomplished within a given time period with the planned resources.
- Manage the product pipeline by only initiating projects as resources become available (Kanban).
- Identify and manage the bottleneck resource to increase throughput
- With a larger number of smaller- and medium-size projects establish a rhythm to project initiation and execution.
We can assist with these steps by undertaking the following.
- Establish a portfolio management system to prioritize resources. For further information, see Portfolio Management Consulting and Implementation.
- Establish a multi-project resource planning system. The first step is to have an effective project management discipline in place. If necessary, we can help train and develop project managers or project leaders. We can help setup a project management office (PMO). Once there is an effective project management discipline in place and realistic project plans, we can assist in establishing a multi-project resource planning capability.This often requires additional software tools that can pull in resource requirements from project management systems or high-level estimates of resource requirements for projects. We can help with the evaluation and implementation of such tools. One system that we have found to be very cost effective is the PD-Trak project portfolio management system. The implementation of this type of tool will allow visibility in the resource demand of current projects as well as planned or proposed projects.If the current load on resources is greater than the availability of resources, the next key step is to suspend lower priority projects and focus on higher priority projects. The concept of Kanban suggest that only as resources are freed up should a new project be started.
- The next step is to focus on the critical or bottleneck resource as the theory of constraints (TOC) would suggest. At first, this will be used to dictate when resources are available to begin new projects. But we would then focus attention on other steps to better manage and increase the availability of the bottleneck resource.
- Finally, the theory of constraints and lean product development practices suggest establishing a drumbeat or rhythm to the start and execution of projects. This is appropriate with a larger number of smaller- and medium-size projects. We would analyze the project composition to determine the the feasibility of this step.
- All of these measures require management training in the theory and principals of these resource management practices and well as the use of system tools to assess and manage project resources. We can conduct this training and then facilitate initial planning according to these practices.
For further information, contact Kenneth Crow at DRM Associates