Monday, April 28, 2008

More Throughput, Please

Due Date Performance

Your most important metric, yet the least requested feature in that new project description. Why is that?

No easy answers

For years, I talked (and perhaps even preached) that "Time equals Money." Not enough time to complete all the requested features? No problem, just throw money at the project. Not enough money? Strip out some features in order to finalize the project.

Of course this never works. We somehow convince ourselves that it will, yet the proof is lacking... big time! Consider your last major project. Let me ask you (and myself) a few simple questions.
Was the goal (purpose, mission, end results) clearly stated? A goal without a timetable is a wish; did you have a time line? Did you complete the project on the original (first!) due date? In over twenty years of managing projects, I can tell you from experience that question number one is always crystal clear at the beginning, but looks more like the Tuscarawas River (mostly muddy, most of the year) by the end of the project.

Second question: always. I cannot recall more than a hand full of projects that I have worked on without very demanding time lines. In fact, the only that comes to mind is the writing of my first book, Purple Curve Effect. Yes, that means several other efforts are afoot... but I digress.

Third: rarely. Everyone that has participated in any sort of project knows the dance: lets trade away functionality (or money or time) in order to complete the project anywhere near the due date.

Enter Tony Rizzo. Project Guru of the first order. A few years ago, during an exchange on what else but projects, he mentions the "four accuracies" with regards to projects. I say, "Say what?"

Everyone knows the holy trinity: time, functionality and budget

So, I say, "I give up, what is the fourth leg of the infamous three-legged dilemma of every project model?"

Accuracy relative to deliverables

Sounds crazy. Everyone knows what the project is suppose to do! Everyone knows the budget. Everyone knows the time line. Everyone knows the functionality that is required.

Again, at the start of the project, yes. Everyone would agree that everyone knows everything about the project. But do they? No way. In 99% of the cases it is my expert opinion that everyone is absolutely and hopelessly clueless! Why am I am so sure? Just look at the results!

No way does your last completed project (or any project) look like the "expected" results documented in the original deliverables. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Nixon. It just ain't gonna happened. Unless and until you change your approach. Most everyone has heard the expression, "To keep doing the same thing, over and over, and to expect different results, is the height of insanity." Einstein said it. I've said it. You have probably said it!

So, why don't we change?

We simply do not know how. Period. End of discussion. No room for debate. Subject closed.

Every time the media calls for a new recession (reminder: in the USA, we are not in a recession, regardless the stupid remarks made by otherwise very intelligent people), there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of businesses that simply refuse to participate.

Therefore, make a decision!

Decide not to participate in any economic down-turn

Great. Now what? You are going to need more throughput. Recall that I over-simply this concept, and define it as, "more money in your pocket." Recall also that there are only two constraints: internal and external. Finally, recall that I focus on internal constraints. However, one of my clients is the master at solving external constraints, so I am happy to make the introduction should you need one.

Internal Constraints

Eli Goldratt is brilliant. he gave us the perfect tool to determine where the internal bottleneck is killing our throughput: the "bitch & moan session!" Bill Dettmer refined the process a bit, by promoting the Crawford Slip method to get a better handle on things, and to help shorten the session (as well as reduce the level of frustration participants often feel).

If your business is like the other 99.5% of all other businesses (again, in the USA, as that is my domain of experience), the cause of the bottleneck is going to fall into one of several categories. Yes, your business is unique. Yes, your processes are different that most every other business. I get it. Do you?

If your project deliverables are not significantly accurate (say 97% just to paint a target on the wall), then you cannot increase your throughput.

Let me say that again: poor accuracy with regard to deliverables equals poor due date performance.

Now what?

Pick up the phone.


Jeff 'SKI' Kinsey, Jonah
Hilton Head Island, SC | Las Vegas, NV
Phone: (330) 432-3533

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