Most Projects do not finish on time and/or within budget and/or meet original promised content, be it in construction projects, IT industry, new product development or any service industry.
Even though projects are diversified, the complaints are basically the same.
1. Usually original due dates are not met
2. There are too many changes
3. Too often resources are not available when needed
4. Necessary things are not available on-time
5. There are fights about priorities between projects
6. There are budget-over runs
7. There is too much rework
What is the major cause for their existence?
1st Approach: UNCERTAINITY
2nd Approach: THE COMMON PRACTICE OF MANAGING THE PROJECTS
But uncertainty is the fact of life. You can manage it but cannot eliminate it.
So what’s wrong with the way projects are managed today?
Today the project plans are made and executed with the belief that if we complete each task on time, we will finish the project on time. Due to high uncertainty, task times cannot be determined – they can only be estimated.
People know that the project environment is full of uncertainties and the estimates given by them will be treated as commitments, so they embed lot of safety in their task estimates so as to ensure high probability of completion on time.
Despite having lot of embedded safety, most tasks do not get completed within the estimated time. This can be attributed to below two Phenomenons – Student’s Syndrome and Parkinson’s Law.
People know that the actual time required to complete a task is much less than the given estimates. So they start their work very late near the completion date. But due to uncertainties, most of the time fail to complete on time.
Even if people start on time and finish early, they do not report the early completion because they know that next time their estimates will be reduced and due to uncertain project environment they may not be able to complete on time.
Both the above phenomenon’s ensure that delays in tasks are passed in full to the next tasks and the gains of early completions are lost.
The problem is even more severe in Multi-Project environment. In a multi-project environment resources are common. People know that the projects gets late so they start the project as early as possible. Due to this, number of projects which are open at any point of time is very high. As the resources are common, they are forced to multi-task due to unavailability of inputs, show progress on other projects etc.
This significantly increases the lead time of all the projects.
So what is the right way to manage the projects?
“It is not important to complete each task on time, it is essential to complete the project on time”
Theory of Constraints (TOC) uses Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) approach to plan and manage the projects. It looks at a project as a system and not as a collection of tasks.
Critical Chain is the longest chain of dependent tasks taking into account the critical resource dependencies. Safety is removed from the individual tasks and a buffer is placed at the end of the Critical Chain and at the integration points.
Each resource focus on one task at a time and finish it faster before starting the next task.
Critical Chain Project Management ensures the projects are finished on time, within budget and without compromising on customers’s original specifications.
Though Yagna strongly believes that every company has the potential to earn much more throughput from the existing investment but still it necessarily insists on conducting assessment before embarking on TOC Implementation journey.
It not only creates a buy-in on the problems and the direction of solution but also confirms that there is a good enough business case for the both the parties to move to the next step of Adoption.