Friday, September 30, 2011

Capacity Planning vs Capability Planning : How Agile changes Project Management

Traditional PM world starts with capacity planning exercise. Key questions revolve around "How much or How Many". The view point from industrial age is that build capacity and it should take care of building and executing deliveries only limited by capacity constraints. Capabilities are expected to be built inside and hence are not mainstream planning tool.

However, our own experiences and stats about project failures gives the message that there are inherent flaws in this model.

Why not, then, acquire, plan, protect and prioritize capability planning continuously to run the shop. This flip in thinking has dramatic consequences.

  1. The key question that gets answered is "What is needed" vs "how many are required." The requirements are filled just in time, so that relevancy of skills to job is highly improved.
  2. The Capabilities to execute the available capacity gets the attention thereby enabling larger throughput and increasing efficiencies.
  3. Managing Capabilities establishes mature HR processes and seasoned managers who are task and vision oriented than handling capacities which is an administrative overhead. 
  4. Encouraging thinking about building capabilties positions you for a competitive advantage. Building capacity is not a guarantee of success as capacity can lay under used, mis-used, or un utilized and what "Goal", TPS, DELL ways of working have taught us.
  5. Focus on capabilities keeps you ahead of the pack in quality and leading industry on your terms. You are now able to be nimble, agile and helpful to add Just in Time capabilities than being constrained to use the available resources from an old capacity pool.
  6. Capable resources create an innovative environment while just planning for capacity and filling in positions promote laziness and status quo.

SCRUM teams add capabilities while Sprints pull up the required capabilities to deliver a Sprint.

Seemingly risks are higher to focus on capabilities than planning for capacities and filling in capabilities,  but it is counter intuition that works in this case. 

Try it and let me know the challenges you had with Agile recruitments and how you improved your worksphere.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Dad's advice

Well, there were lots. Do this, Don't do this. Do this way, Do I beat you to make you listen (yea, it is allowed in India).
Every step of childhood was a judgmental one. However this is different.  
"Do anything with discipline of time and with your full presence. That will be your recognition and your brand"

How true...

Be it in office: People judge us by the time we make entry and exit time from office, Timing Phone calls, Discussions, Reaching time for meetings, Break timings, all done with a discipline of time really makes people know you better.

Be it in social circles: Time of publishing our tweets, facebook updates, blog posts publishings, hang out with friends, all done with discipline of time really makes your friends look forward to meeting with you. Remember weekly get togethers at a given place and time and how we are eager to get there ?

Be it personal: Time to wife, parents, children, and self – exercise, reflection, thinking, reading all done with discipline of time makes us crave the moments than a haphazard way of spending time multiple ways.

Remember, what we SMS, say with fondness and sublimity, passion and twinkle, to our friends, family and close acquaintances: "I had a great time."/ "I look forward to the times". / "I remember the time…" / “Would want to have those moments back...”

In everything, we remember the time as the primary context and fix the incidents to recall within the context. The incidents that happened in that time are so memorable.

Every time , I realize the statement to be an eternal truth and has a sub-conscious effect on me whenever I get this right. In hindsight, more than achievement, it is satisfaction of a complete day and always ends up on a positive note.

Thanks Dad! Love you!

Agile findability: Use of Concept Maps for Revise, Reconstruct and Resume from Problems

De-construction of a system into its constituent parts to study the underlying problem of parts and prescribe fixes has these days been devoured as a bad idea. The basic premise of these arguments is that while individual parts work in a whole system, there are interfaces, handshakes and undercurrents that bind the parts together to function better as a whole.

This is true. But I don't agree that deconstruction is a bad idea. Initial practitioners, start with Root Cause Analysis by deconstructing the problems into parts and mostly report the findings using a fish bone diagram. Lot of us taste initial success with this method of studying parts and applying solutions to the systems.

However, stopping here means you lose the plot when you enter solving realms of complexity something like relationships and interactions with people, systems, groups, communities, projects, clients etc. While deconstructing these systems, we always need to
  1. Connect and construct them to the source(s).
  2. Always seek to find sources (as problems are inherently complex because of not a single lead, but because it has built up over time in multiple occasions).
  3. Investigate how these parts enabled/disabled others functions in the system or discover the objectives for which the individuals and independent resources were integrated.
  4. Determine the crucial factors among the canvas that needs to be leveraged better to set right actions.

This is where applying Agile principles, we could see a better problem solving approach. To apply the Agile findability of
Revise, Reconstruct and Resumefrom problems, I am going to introduce you to a new thinking and software tool that enables a better approach to fix complex problems.

Concept maps provide much better insights into problem solving techniques. Google for the term and you could learn from articles that suit your reading styles. For this post, I refer to CMAP or VUE ways of using concept maps. I highly recommend downloading both of them and you could be on your way to solve complicated problems by uncovering relationships, the troubles, weaknesses in the links and exposing them solves the problems.

Rather than asking "How did we come to this stage", it is better to ask "What all contributed to this snap". Answering the question then lays emphasis on all connected and unconnected incidents (individuals and interactions in Agile terms) and using any of the concept map tools lay them on a timeline.Using prepositions to illustrate the connections and showing the multiple tracks in a timeline, problem solvers can evaluate the entire map and take a holistic relationship view of the problems depth and solutions at hand.

In many incidents involving people, bringing the connections and non-connections(people not in loop) out is the critical step. Once the information is in public domain, solutions emerge and the problems get solved in a much better fashion than forcing one with own prejudices and perceptions.

While you draw concept maps, make sure you use prepositions to explain the link between nodes. The standard connections and often missing lines (floating nodes) are the sources of the crisis. Reconstructing the lines and visualizing how the links could have been better between entities (nodes in concept maps) gives multiple solution threads to approach a given situation.

Lay emphasis to links and the phrases that determine the relationships. Treat multiple nodes and their linking branches as factors that influences a particular node (Responding to Change vs following a Plan). You are now better prepared to learn from mistakes and make them better by leveraging the factors to turn them to your advantage.

Going back in time to the step that is right is not an option and never a great step. We desire to rewind and start again from where things were right. Hardly this is going to guarantee that problems vanish. Alternately changed equations will force a new set of problems at our hand.

Hence it is important to lay the solution options as a separate concept map on table and see the multiple tasks and confidence building measures from where the links can be strengthened, not only for current job but lay a stronger and confident foundation for future relationships (customer collaboration vs contract negotiation).

After few years of practice, am sure these connections can run in your head and you are the best troubleshooter, deal maker and most effective relationship manager for your organization.

Let me know your disagreements and we can have an interesting discussion :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

EVM Model for reporting SCRUM projects - Introduction

SCRUM is a good operations model. While many consider it as a project management approach, often it is realized that SCRUM lacked lingo for reporting business performance.

As of date, Businesses and projects leaders do not care much for project execution or delivery models. Hence they do not care if we do it SCRUM way or not. Thus SCRUM practitioners and Managers have this bridge to cross so that SCRUM gets main stream.

Business and Project Leaders ask for 3 main measures to be on top of project and enables them for better decision making irrespective of operation models.

1. Am I getting the value for what I spend?

2. Do I know how long and how much it will take to close the project under current conditions?

3. Can I claim with reasonable confidence that project goals will be met successfully and drive my company to be successful?

These measures are available in EVM and hence it is a natural fit for SCRUM projects to associate the EVM lingo in the framework.
Also the concept of Earned Value in EVM benefits more from SCRUM way of delivering sprints.

Before we dive into the working, here is a comparison on fitment and adaptability between SCRUM and EVM.

S.NoSCRUM PhasesEVM measurement Terms
1Project Planning, Product Backlog Planning, Product VisionBudget At Completion
2Sprint PlanningPlanned Value
3Sprint ProgressActual Cost
4Sprint in progressSchedule Performance Index, Cost Performance Index
5Sprint RetrospectiveEarned Value, Sprint Performance Index, Variance at Completion
6Sprint in progress, Sprint RetrospectiveCost Variance, Schedule Variance
7Sprint Retrospective (Using Sprint Burn Down chart)Estimate AT Completion / Estimate TO Completion
8Features/User Stories Burn up chartCost Performance Index

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Teachers Day

For all that learned
For all that shared
For all the provocations
For all the thoughts

For the prods and Nudges
For the Talks and Reflections
For the Moods and Perspectives
For the beats and bash

For sharing the experiences
For kicking the brainstorms
For listening to the reels
For hearing the spiels

With the comments
With the tweets
With the wall posts

The encouragement of all
The time of togetherness
The collection of intelligence
Comes the Wisdom, Learnings

You, my friend,
is my life long teacher.

This needs a special day to wish
and here it is...

Happy Teachers Day!!!

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