Three easy Lean steps

In this video titled “Are you sure you are doing projects work?” during Lean Kanban Central Europe of 2012, the presenters have described 3 steps for project work.

1. Process Cycle Efficiency
The presenters gave example of request which took 9 man-day to actually work on while the Lead Time (time from concept to cash) was 60 working days. This produced a low PCE of 15%.

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Limiting Work in Progress (WIP) for both items to be deployed (output queue) and development served to reduce Lead Time. It is an inexpensive way with low risk and proven theory behind it.

2. Estimation
The norm is that estimates are always smaller than both the actual effort and time. Using forecasting based on class of service and work type is more informed way for providing predictability. On the other hand, avoiding estimate can reduce stress on the team. Forecasting based promises acknowledge the role of system in process performance, instead of pointing to people.

3. Portfolio Kanban
Limiting WIP for up-stream project portfolio management can regulate the demand. It will help in deciding the right projects to work on.

Finally, I believe these 3 steps are valuable for ongoing product development and sustainment projects. For new product development, a Lean startup approach could have better yield. However, these 3 steps still have good elements that could be used in new product developement. For instance, limiting WIP for the development team.

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