Archive for May, 2009

A Primer on Just-in-Time Resourcing

A Primer on Just-in-Time ResourcingSM, Enabling the Concept of Just-in-Time Resourcing (JITR) with Project Workforce Management is a white paper I co-wrote with Randy Mysliviec CEO of RTM Consulting. Just-in-Time Resourcing  (JITR) can offer significant advantages and immediate benefits to professional services agencies, consulting companies and other expanding technology firms needing improved resource planning. “Stop gap” and other measures can compound the problems in handling large scale fluctuations in labor sourcing and management. Find out how JITR addresses the need for optimal resource supply for growing businesses, and how to enable JITR through project workforce management software.

You can register and download it here.

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I have to finish this today

What follows is a memo I sent to our team a few days ago.

After getting several bids and checking references, we hired a company (owned by a guy called Tony) to do the landscaping for our home. It was a fairly big project since the unfinished backyard was not level, was full of dirt and stone. In less than 14 days Tony transformed our yard from a vacant lot into a very nice looking backyard. From past experience, I would have expected this project to take several months. I guess we picked the right person for the job!

He worked side by side with the workers he had hired. Everyone who saw Tony working including our neighbors were amazed. To quote my neighbor “When the owner of the business gets down on his knees, digs, cuts, installs, and works right along with his team … wow!”

He started every single day at 6:30 am and would work until 8/9 pm with very few breaks. He is so intense during work that I would hesitate to interrupt him. He was “in the zone”. It seemed that every single day he had decided (and probably visualized), even before the day had started, what he would finish for that day. Come hell or high water he was going to accomplish that one day goal, and by gosh he did.

When we got a chance to speak, he explained to me how the small bulldozer he uses is 15K more expensive than what other people in the industry use but he chose to invest in it because it allows him to work even when it rains (he does not get stuck in the mud like the others do). Last night we came home after going to the movies with the family, as we approached our home around 9:30 pm I see the whole yard is lit. As we got closer I see his entire crew was still working! He explained to me that they had to finish laying the grass and he uses projectors so he can work after dark.

So much of what he does and how he does things reminds me of us, in the first five years of Tenrox when absolutely no obstacle was too big. We had the same instinct, raw desire, and intensity he has today. Just seeing how he works has re-energized me!

The World economy in general and the United States specifically have experienced a significant almost unprecedented slowdown and huge, real losses. Many very well known companies were wiped out or had to resort to substantial layoffs to try to adjust to the new market forces of slower growth and lack of credit.

I hope more of you will remember Tony when you come to work tomorrow. Focus on results, have a specific achievable target for every single day you are present at work, get into the zone, and finish what you started instead of jumping from task to task, accomplishing very little.  This kind of attitude will ensure that we (Tenrox) remain unbeatable. Who can compete with that!?

Work as if you have to.

It is surprising what a man can do when he has to, and how little most men will do when they don’t have to.
- Walter Linn

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Project Management War Room, One Year Later

About a year ago, during a customer visit I noticed an interesting combination of hi-tech/low-tech project management and planning techniques which I later called the Project Management War Room and wrote about here. We implemented our own versions of this war room for our R&D and Professional Services (PS) teams. The results have been something to write more about!

After nine months of trying this out ourselves, I can report that both the R&D and PS war rooms have been highly effective. Both teams hold a 30 to 45 minute weekly project status meeting in the war room. I attend some of them just to keep in touch but read the minutes of their weekly meetings pretty regularly. Since the creation of the war rooms I have observed a noticeable improvement in project execution and a significant increase in our team performance consistency.  It seems that a wall full of visual information, key project dates/timelines on the wall, yellow or red flags if projects are late,  bug stats, weekly action items per project manager on flip charts … all in one room makes people more accountable and responsive for their projects and deliverables.

Here are a few best practices we have come up with so far:

  • Keep the information on the walls to the absolute minimum to reduce overhead work and to make sure the wall gets updated regularly. We write project/feature name, the developer/consultant who owns it, the expected completion date, and the status (shown using a color and two to three other pieces of information such as delivery date, number of bugs open for that module). The key is to use colors, large normal and bold characters, and simple timelines to convey the bottom summary status. More detailed information is maintained in computer files/databases. We use a projector and drill into the detailed by looking at project and workforce reports when we need to. However, 99% of the time, the information on the walls is all we need to focus on and discuss during our war room meetings.

  • A new item we have added of late is we write the original estimate for the project or feature and current spend level. This has also helped us quickly see which parts of a project are going off plan. I have included a sample of the project boxes we have on our R&D wall.

 

project_box

The service team was tracking a lot more detail on their wall. After attending the last meeting I could see how their version was not working as well as that of R&D. I could not tell, at a glance, where the issues are and what action is being taken. There was too much information to go over in 30 seconds which is my maximum attention span for such things. I asked the service team managers to take a good hard look at how R&D is doing it and to adopt more of their keep it simple approach.

This simple combination of good old fashioned paper printouts, sticky notes and timelines on the wall, flip charts to look at the big picture, and a computer/projector so we can drill into the project reports is working very well for us.  The visual impact of the war room, the intensity it has brought to our project teams and the performance improvements we have gained is incredible.

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