Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE)

Five years ago I prepared report for a Lean transformation for a certain client department. The PCE was less than 1%! PCE is defined as the ratio between the time we actually spent working on a feature to the Lead Time. PCE is an average metric.

The purpose of this blog is to explore if there were only one metric to choose, should it be the PCE and why. Continue reading

Inadequacy of project Percentage of Completion (PoC)

PoC is a widely used metric in traditional organizations to monitor their projects. Normally such projects can have 40+ people with multiple vendors involved. The project is structured into teams some implement Agile others are not. Sometimes the program management wants to become Agile but they are not sure how to structure their team for meeting compliance and regulation expectations, as well as inherited organization’s practices. Continue reading

Manual visual board to improve measurement

In this post I describe a perspective of visual board when it’s used with an automated ticketing system. In current project which I facilitate its Kanban implementation I introduced a practice of process review. During which we found gaps between the board and the ticketing system, for a given card we can have:

– Visual board is correct state while ticketing system is wrong: This was the case for the majority of cards having inconsistency issues. This is rather easy to fix by agreeing and communicating instructions with team on the mapping rules between the states of the Kanban board and those of the ticketing system.
– Both states in the visual board and ticketing system are incorrect: This was failure in the process implementation and would require that we may change our mind on the implementation approach.
– Visual board is incorrect and ticketing is correct: This was very rare and in fact we didn’t encounter this situation.

Discontinuing the visual board and use electronic tool on top of the ticketing system can lead to drop in the Kanban process implementation. The visual board allowed:
– Collaboration among all team members to discover issues which otherwise could not have been found if we use electronic solution alone.
– The manual board can act as data validation process,which is often a missed step of a measurement system. Data captured in the ticketing system is validated against manual board which creates improvement opportunities for the whole process.
– Increased degree of transparency between what actually takes place and what is being reported.
– As corollary of previous point, the implementation of  the visual board has raised the morale level of team members and improved trust.
– Produced accurate data to top management for deriving the overall process improvement.

The ticketing system is not the process; instead it’s a tracking system to help in implementing the process. The real process is what happens at the visual board, and by implementing the agreed on mechanics of engagement among team members. We can’t rely on the data of the ticketing system if the manual implementation of the process is unclear. The data is reflection to a process and in the absence of the process the data can be misleading.

Having a manual board for 2 months period or so before introducing a tool on top of the ticketing system is my preferred approach. This will allow the process to be substantiated among team members and to produce meaningful data from ticketing system.

Blind spot of visual board

The visual board has an orthogonal dimension which we can not visualize, this is the quality of engineering work. As Agile/ Lean facilitator we should be proactive in improving such engineering competencies, even if we are non technical. I suggest implementing the following two concepts.

Maintain waste basket

For me this represents noneffective requirement management. This contains the cards which decided not to complete after we had started working on them. For me this is the materialization of risks ignored during the estimation phase. However, they can be due to:
– Requirement was a wish which we discovered later that there is no need for
– Requirement is beyond economy to be implemented
– Requirement is non feasible based on the current product architecture.

Defect escape

For me this represents noneffective engineering development practices. Defect escape is defined as “For given set of cards, it is the percentage of defects found after being DONE compared to overall defects of these cards”. This percentage should be zero. The engineering failure is more severe if this measure is non-zero for non New Product Development cards, which represent the repeatable type of work. Examples for causes of non-zero value of this measure are:
– Inadequate architecture
– Poor product owner review
– Overlooked unit testing
– In effective code review

What counts, the project or MMF?

The idea of project in operations management helps to understand the demand on the organization by adding the dimensions of required effort, delivery interval, objectives/ scope, client and required skills. Project planning serves to define the previous attributes, while project execution and tracking is a common way for full-filling demand. Continue reading