In her book The Accidental Project Manager: Surviving the Transition from Techie to Manager Patricia Ensworth describes a common dilemma where a skilled technician is often elevated to a position where the are suddenly a project leader without any kind of training in the necessary skills of project management.
We provide not just help with the implementation of project management software but also the training and instruction in the modern methodologies that lead to better project and supply chain management solutions: Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM), Lean, Agile PERT, Drum-Buffer-Rope, Lead Carpenter and tools from the TQM & Six Sigma methodologies.
The Tools & Thinking Used in Modern Project & Production Management Today
The business environment in recent years has been characterized by increasing competition and a relentless drive for continuous improvement. Several approaches have been developed to assist organizations in meeting these challenges-including:
- Theory of Constraints
- Critical Chain Project Management
- Lean Thinking
- Just in Time
- The Lead Carpenter System
- What We Do and How We Do It
Theory of Constraints
Back in 1989 Eliahau Goldratt wrote what is considered by many to be a pioneering new book to introduce the author’s Theory of Constraints (TOC); The Goal A Process of Ongoing Improvement. Written very accessibly in the form of a novel this innovative work, set down in the form of an easy-reading novel, uses everyday events to introduce the concepts of the author’s theory of constraints (TOC).
TOC is an innovative management philosophy that encourages a shift in focus from dealing with local efficiencies to dealing with the critical chain of events required to complete a project.
The theory of constraints asserts that every company has at least one resource that is preventing it from making infinitely more profit; infinite in that as each constraint is removed in turn a never-ending continuous improvement cycle takes place. Theory of constraints focuses on maintaining and effectively managing the constraintthat is a factor in the product or service that is vital to the business process. To manage constraints effectively your business should adhere to the following steps: identify the weakest link, make the constraint as effective as possible, subordinate everything else to the above decision, remove the constraint, and proceed to do it all over again.
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
In short Critical Chain Project Management is the Theory of Constraints (TOC) as it applies in a more project oriented work environment. Eliahau Goldratt first illustrated Critical Chain: A Business Novel again in the form of a novel in a book by that same name but the definitive book regarding it real world application is often seen as Lawrence P. Leach’s Critical Chain Project Management.
Critical Chain is often seen as the first major development in project management since CPM and PERT. For the last half century Critical Path Method (CPM) and PERT have helped improve project performance. They been applied to of all types of projects from construction to product development to IT development and to shutdowns and turnarounds. However, business needs are now demanding improvements that are beyond what the critical path method is capable of delivering.
Does Critical Chain utilize project networks/logic? Yes. However, Critical Chain is as more of an approach and mind set that it is just a “scheduling technique”. Project teams using Critical Chain develop these networks by questioning traditional assumptions behind how work is performed and are willing to sub optimize tasks and resources in order to optimize the project.
Origins-The ideas behind what is now termed lean thinking were originally developed in Toyota’s manufacturing operations – known as the Toyota Production System – and spread through its supply base in the 1970’s, and its distribution and sales operations in the 1980’s. The term was popularized in the seminal book The Machine that Changed the World (Womack, Jones & Roos, 1990), which clearly illustrated – for the first time – the significant performance gap between the Japanese and western automotive industries. It described the key elements accounting for this superior performance as lean production – ‘lean’ because Japanese business methods used less of everything – human effort, capital investment, facilities, inventories and time – in manufacturing, product development, parts supply and customer relations.The popularity of this book arises form the fact that it ‘decoded the DNA’ of the Japanese system , and formulated universal principles, from which a variety of industries could customize according to their requirements.
Womack and Jones followed The Machine that Changed the World a few years later with Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation which is seen by a lot of people as the key foundation book on the subject. While the examples of Lean Thinking in the book come from throughout industry Chapter 1 of the book starts off profiling Doyle Wilson Homebuilder or Austin Texas and how he applied Lean Thinking to his production methods.
The Key Lean Thinking Principles – The starting point is to recognize that only a small fraction of the total time and effort in any organization actually adds value for the end customer. By clearly defining Value for a specific product or service from the end customer’s perspective, all the non value activities – or waste – can be targeted for removal step by step. For most production operations only 5% of activities add value, 35% are necessary non-value adding activities and 60% add no value at all. Eliminating this waste is the greatest potential source of improvement in corporate performance and customer service.
Examples of waste :
- Inappropriate Processing
- Unnecessary Inventory
- Unnecessary Movement
Few products or services are provided by one organization alone, so that waste removal has to be pursued throughout the whole Value Stream – the entire set of activities across all the firms involved in jointly delivering the product or service. New relationships are required to eliminate inter-firm waste and to effectively manage the value stream as a whole.
Instead of managing the workload through successive departments, processes are reorganized so that the product or design flows through all the value adding steps without interruption, using the toolbox of lean techniques to successively remove the obstacles to flow. Activities across each firm are synchronized by pulling the product or design from upstream steps, just when required in time to meet the demand from the end customer.
Removing wasted time and effort represents the biggest opportunity for performance improvement. Creating flow and pull starts with radically reorganizing individual process steps, but the gains become truly significant as all the steps link together. As this happens more and more layers of waste become visible and the process continues towards the theoretical end point of perfection, where every asset and every action adds value for the end customer. In this way, Lean Thinking represents a path of sustained performance improvement – and not a one off program.
Five Key Lean Principles
Just In Time (JIT)
A close cousin or even brother to Lean Thinking when businesses use the just-in-time production and inventory control systems they purchase material and produce units to meet actual customer demand. In a JIT system, inventories are reduced to the minimum and or zero amounts. The JIT approach has been successful in both merchandising and manufacturing companies because it reduces the amount of raw materials, work in process, and finished goods that have been completed but not yet sold to the customers. As a result, quality improves and costs of goods decreases.Many companies ranging from large to small ones have implemented JIT with a great deal of success. Among the major companies using JIT are Bose, Goodyear, General Motors, Xerox, Intel, Black and Decker, and John Deere. The benefits of using the JIT system include the following: an increase in working capital; quicker response times to customers; defect rates are reduced, resulting in less waste.
The Lead Carpenter System
The Lead Carpenter System is a building and remodeling industry specific project managent methodolgy first really codified by Tim Faller in his book the Lead Carpenter Handbook: The Complete Hands On Guide To Successful Job Site Management where seven key responsibilities are handed of to a Lead (Executive) Carpenter who is responsible for the site management and project performance, Those seven key responsibilities being:
- Customer Satisfaction
- Material Take-offs, and Orders
- Job Site Supervision, Protection of the Clients’ Property & Possessions, Cleanliness, and Safety
- Carpentry Labor
- Supervision and Scheduling of Subcontractors
- Building Code Inspections
- Project Paperwork
The Lead Carpenter is the On-site Manager of both the Project and the Customer Relationship.
What We Do and How We Do It
Paradigm Projects will work with you to determine and design a strategy and process for implementing a business process improvement program in any one of, or any combination of, the above mentioned disciplines.
- We evaluate your needs. We believe we must first understand you, before we can even begin to help you.
- We ensure our talents and capabilities match what you need.
- We help develop an optimum implementation plan, considering your long term goals and current capabilities.
- We believes that your complex challenges require comprehensive, but simple, solutions.Our goal is to find the elegant, simple solution to your challenging issues; without compromises or trade-offs.
- There is a bias towards planned, precise action for practical improvements; moving with high velocity from start to finish.
- Where appropriate and whenever possible, we will transfer our skills and knowledge to you and your employees so they can continue the improvement process.
- We coach, encourage, guide, assist, and challenge you and your people to the next step in your journey to excellence.