Monthly Archives: April 2014

What do managers do when their project teams are unsuccessful? You probably do what most managers do and send them for project management skills training. There is some evidence that shows more skills equates to better performance.

But this relationship between training and project performance is really just a correlation. Yes, training equips your team with valuable knowledge and fires up your team for success, but having a trained project team does not guarantee a successful project. We know this because after years and years, and millions and millions of dollars, we still have less than stellar results.

Watch this video below and learn what you need to build a foundation to consistently deliver projects on time, on budget, and in scope.

The Project Execution Maturity Model from Pinnacle Strategies on Vimeo.

Learn more about how to improve project execution by reading some of our ebooks and watching more of our videos. In particular, our ebook Visualizing Projects introduces visual project management which reduces the number of meetings and makes them suck less and pushes the team forward.

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Deadline Clock

Being on time begins with setting the expectation with the customer, promising delivery when it can actually be completed. Order delivery promising must reflect available capacity. Just as you manage cash, you must carefully manage the capacity of your business. There should be a process to commit the capacity, just as there is a process to write checks. Incoming orders are demands on your capacity account. Who is accountable for ensuring that the account doesn’t become overdrawn?

Sometimes, there will be demands that exceed your capacity. A rush order. An important deadline. An escalation and reconciliation process makes certain that both the customer and the business are satisfied. The order promising process is a negotiation to find the real needs of the customer and determine how to meet them profitably.

Quick Response

A necessary part of the promising process is the requirement for a quick response process. This process ensures that emergency orders are handled properly, and if possible accommodated. Customers have emergencies. They sometimes want a product faster than you normally produce it. How do you handle this/ You want to find as many ways as possible to say “yes,” but not every emergency is one to which you should necessarily respond. Is the rush order for someone who has never ordered from you before? Will this order be the beginning of a relationship or is it merely a one time request? Or, is the order needed by a regular customer who buys a significant amount? Should there be a difference in how you respond? does the customer service representative decide or is it up to the account manager? What if overtime is required? Who can authorize the expenditure? The scheduler? The plant manager? The responsibilities for answering these questions and the process for making the decisions must be spelled out and agreed on before you get the call. Otherwise, you may have one person making promises, but another is accountable for the results.

An escalation process keeps everyone honest; preventing you from saying “no” when you should say “yes.” Sometimes, the customer wants to have the product but plant capacity is already booked. What then? How is the customer’s voice going to be heard? The reconciliation process escalates the request to the next level of management.
 
Buffer Diagnostics Reveal Your Opportunities for Improvement

Buffer diagnosis is the process of reviewing your “almost late” order events and finding the resources that are causing these events.

Regularly gather snapshots of the state of your plant; your buffer status. Which parts are almost late? What resource is causing it? Compile these snapshots into your database. They become a documentary of your plant’s performance.

At least once a month, formally look at your film. Which resources are causing the most disruption? These are the ones that will become your next bottleneck – the one that affects your customer.

These resources are the ones eligible for improvement efforts. Without a targeting mechanism like buffer diagnostics, you are shooting in the dark.

My next blog post will finish up discussing the last key parts in building a reliable delivery system. Check out the full white paper titled “How to Build a Reliable Delivery Process” here.

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How to Build a Reliable Deliver Process Teamwork

The entire team must participate to make delivery reliable. It isn’t just the operations or production departments. Perfect execution is a commitment for the whole organization.

Involving people begins with measuring the right things; setting the right expectations for performance. Management decides what the measurements are; what get measured gets done.

There seems to be so many different things that are measured, that it’s hard to pick one single measure that expresses progress towards the mission of the organization. This is analogous to a sports team that is unaware of the goal of the game. We agree that the main objective is to score more points that the other team. If we do, we win. The offense scores, the defense prevent scoring. Each subgroup has its own measurements, but the objective of the game is always foremost in player’s minds.

Reliable delivery – not efficiency – is the goal of production. The purpose of production is to make products for sale, not to spend as little money as possible. But, looking at the way some managers behave, you would think that the opposite is true! Think about a restaurant. Why should we have a kitchen in the restaurant? It makes the food customers eat. It’s the same in manufacturing. Why does a factory exist? It makes things to sell! The number one goal for the system is customer satisfaction.
  
Management must establish on time delivery (to commitment) as THE key performance indicator. Research demonstrates that this component of your service is the most important gauge of customer satisfaction. If you’re doing well here, you can be confident your customer satisfaction score will be high. It’s also an indicator of the stability of your order fulfillment system. Good on time delivery performance indicates a stable system, one that is under control. If you can’t keep promises, your system is out of control; it’s unstable.

The point of the measurement is to create a unity of purpose. What you measure tells the organization what is important. Without a common purpose, you team can never be unified.

My next blog post will focus on the order promising and buffer diagnostics parts of the system. Do you want to read ahead? Check out the full white paper titled “How to Build a Reliable Delivery Process” here.

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race track

The Production Manager Owns Execution

Often, the responsibility for execution is split up among functions or it’s not clear who is responsible for the entire process. There can be no question of who is responsible for execution. Having a single person accountable for the ensure order fulfillment process provides leadership for the entire execution team. The production manager is responsible for executing the plan. In effect, he is the “Race Boss” of the order fulfillment process. The scheduler creates a plan that can be done; the production manager gets it done.

Focus During Execution

Since the planning is centered on the constraint resource (the drum), the main focus of production is ensuring this resource actually accomplishes the plan. Flawless execution of the schedule at the constraint resource (the drum) sets up the flow for the rest of the team, creating a synchronous current of work. If that resource executes its schedule properly, the other resources can achieve their schedule with little management intervention.

Even with a carefully thought out plan, people don’t always follow directions precisely – you have to watch for compliance. A critical part of controlling execution and early identification of problems is accomplished by monitoring schedule conformance.

Act Early

We know that even the best plans don’t always survive reality. When things don’t work, you have to do something! It’s amazing how many people watch the numbers, notice that performance is not satisfactory, but never act to correct it! Measurement is not enough. You have to respond to the measurement.

We talked earlier about inserting buffers into your schedules. Managing these buffers assures that exceptions do not become emergencies. By tracking the buffer remaining, you can get a fix on the remaining time in the system to compensate for variation, giving you an opportunity to create early action. The buffer management process show you the almost-late orders, providing you with an early warning so you can act early.

Release on Time, Deliver on Time

Many people think that early release means early finish. The the contrary, early release means late finish! Work released into the system too early creates confusion and chaos by causing people to do work that is not needed now, delaying what is really needed. While your resources are happily “getting ahead” on some work, the capacity that’s needed for more urgent work is consumed forever, creating overloads on downstream resources and the scramble to finish on time – not to mention the confusion of trying to figure out which order out of 30 is supposed to be worked on now, deciding wrong, and then finding that vital order when it’s inevitably too late.

Orders released too late are – well, late!

My next blog post will focus on teamwork, the third part of the six parts of the system. Do you want to read ahead? Check out the full white paper titled “How to Build a Reliable Delivery Process” here.

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Planning HTBRDP

Install a Master Scheduler
A single, master plan drives the Maximum Flow System and the planning process is the responsibility of the master scheduler; he/she owns the process. While that may seem like an obvious statement, to many, it’s not. Those organizations do not employ a master scheduler or even have a formal planning and scheduling process – at least a process in the sense of a rigorous series of steps with checks and balances. A master scheduler manages and controls your organization’s capacity in the same way your controller manages your bank account. He or she writes “checks” against the capacity “balance” and ensures the customer needs can be met without overdrawing the account. Your capacity is as valuable to the business as your cash. Someone must be responsible for monitoring and managing this resource.

Make the Schedules Real
The master scheduler must create a realistic schedule, one that can be accomplished, not a wish list or a club to beat up the plant. While that also seems obvious, in many companies and organizations the schedule is used as a club to point out the shortcomings of production, saying in effect, “If production would follow the schedule, everything would be fine!” Equally ineffective is the schedule presented as a wish list, “Here is everything we have promised, try to get everything out.” Having a clear plan that has credibility is critical to driving execution behavior.

The schedule is a statement of the strategy; a “best” basis from which to execute; the strategy to win.

Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR) gives you an edge in maximizing flow and productivity. Furthermore, DBR schedules are very reliable. The reliability of DBR schedules are what make them useful for creating a realistic model of execution and a reliable tool for decision making.

The key to the reliability of the schedule built using DBR is its focus on the main bottleneck resource of the system and its built-in protection against common-cause variation (buffer). It doesn’t try to plan every resource interaction in the system, so the plans it produces are much more reliable.

The planning process itself is also simplified. Since the bottleneck determines overall system capacity, planning is centered on that resource only, providing a simple plan that models the entire process.

Protect Deliveries with Buffers
Time buffers protect the delivery date; they are shock absorbers that protect the plan from process variation. Just as shocks on the heels of running shoes absorb the variations in the running service, time buffers absorb the normal variation that exists in every process.

Some people don’t like the idea of adding time buffers to the plan –  they perceive it as waste. However, time buffers are a necessary safeguard against late deliveries. Don’t skimp on them by trying to be “Lean”; the goal of your order fulfillment process is to make the customer happy not efficient. Demonstrate that your order fulfillment process is under control by maintaining high delivery performance, then work on improving the process.

Time buffers aren’t just added randomly to any resource or area; they must be added to strategic locations in the process. First, buffers protect the drum resource and this, the output of the entire process. Second, a buffer protects the due dates of the orders. This assures that all orders are protected from variation.

My next blog post will focus on synchronized execution, the second part of the six parts of the system. Do you want to read ahead? Check out the full white paper titled “How to Build a Reliable Delivery Process” here.

Schedule a Consultation

Click Here

Planning HTBRDP

Install a Master Scheduler
A single, master plan drives the Maximum Flow System and the planning process is the responsibility of the master scheduler; he/she owns the process. While that may seem like an obvious statement, to many, it’s not. Those organizations do not employ a master scheduler or even have a formal planning and scheduling process – at least a process in the sense of a rigorous series of steps with checks and balances. A master scheduler manages and controls your organization’s capacity in the same way your controller manages your bank account. He or she writes “checks” against the capacity “balance” and ensures the customer needs can be met without overdrawing the account. Your capacity is as valuable to the business as your cash. Someone must be responsible for monitoring and managing this resource.

Make the Schedules Real
The master scheduler must create a realistic schedule, one that can be accomplished, not a wish list or a club to beat up the plant. While that also seems obvious, in many companies and organizations the schedule is used as a club to point out the shortcomings of production, saying in effect, “If production would follow the schedule, everything would be fine!” Equally ineffective is the schedule presented as a wish list, “Here is everything we have promised, try to get everything out.” Having a clear plan that has credibility is critical to driving execution behavior.

The schedule is a statement of the strategy; a “best” basis from which to execute; the strategy to win.

Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR) gives you an edge in maximizing flow and productivity. Furthermore, DBR schedules are very reliable. The reliability of DBR schedules are what make them useful for creating a realistic model of execution and a reliable tool for decision making.

The key to the reliability of the schedule built using DBR is its focus on the main bottleneck resource of the system and its built-in protection against common-cause variation (buffer). It doesn’t try to plan every resource interaction in the system, so the plans it produces are much more reliable.

The planning process itself is also simplified. Since the bottleneck determines overall system capacity, planning is centered on that resource only, providing a simple plan that models the entire process.

Protect Deliveries with Buffers
Time buffers protect the delivery date; they are shock absorbers that protect the plan from process variation. Just as shocks on the heels of running shoes absorb the variations in the running service, time buffers absorb the normal variation that exists in every process.

Some people don’t like the idea of adding time buffers to the plan –  they perceive it as waste. However, time buffers are a necessary safeguard against late deliveries. Don’t skimp on them by trying to be “Lean”; the goal of your order fulfillment process is to make the customer happy not efficient. Demonstrate that your order fulfillment process is under control by maintaining high delivery performance, then work on improving the process.

Time buffers aren’t just added randomly to any resource or area; they must be added to strategic locations in the process. First, buffers protect the drum resource and this, the output of the entire process. Second, a buffer protects the due dates of the orders. This assures that all orders are protected from variation.

My next blog post will focus on synchronized execution, the second part of the six parts of the system. Do you want to read ahead? Check out the full white paper titled “How to Build a Reliable Delivery Process” here.

Schedule a Consultation

Click Here