First there is a project , Then there is no project, Then there is a project…
A koan is meant to bring about deep reflection on a topic with the intent of taking the practitioner closer to the goal of enlightenment. These concise and clever proverbs contain gems that afford a better perspective on complex topics. In this post I will use the mountain koan to dissect the phases of a project and illustrate three key points:
- We should not lose “beginner’s mind” and the lofty idealism of the project plan
- It is difficult to see the forest through the trees while “inside” the project
- There are missed opportunities by ignoring project postmortems
Kaizen for the Creative Agency Project Manager
Literally translated from Japanese to English, Kaizen means “Good Change”. The inference in business terms becomes improvement, or the process of continuing improvement. Kaizen’s history in the business world began with manufacturing and is closely associated with 5S Lean, but like any simple theory based in the scientific method, it can be applied to broad range of industry. I would argue that holding the principles of Kaizen as a core value is especially imperative for the Creative Agency Project Manager.
Lack of Time Sheet compliance is a common issue among creative agencies. No matter what the firm’s billing scheme is–fixed fee, retainer, or time and materials–capturing the effort spent at the task level of projects is critical in these three areas: Estimating, Productivity Analysis, and Financial Accounting. To counter this problem I propose a tiered system of bonuses as an incentive program for increased Time Sheet compliance for creative agencies. Continue reading
Hi, my name is Damian, and I have a problem with the current state of estimating in creative agencies. Do you also have an agency that is averse to estimating? Have things gotten out of hand? Hurt feelings? Damaged relationships? Maybe it’s time to start the healing process and have an intervention. Let’s review a 12-step program that can lead your creative agency to a rehabilitated estimating process.
Is your process plagued by bottlenecks? Does one of your project resources have a gnarled stack of job tickets on their desk? The uninitiated may look at that resource as the weakest link in your process, but a closer examination would point the finger to poor scheduling. Drum Buffer Rope (DBR) seeks to provide a solution to this resource overload through a limiting WIP principle.
How does your creative agency estimate task durations?
If you’re like most agencies, you’re using a mixture of historical data tempered with solicited resource input. I.E., I’ll start my estimate by looking at what we did last time (if available) and I’ll ask the resource how long they think it will take. The CCPM method then adds another step that many in the creative agency profession would find shocking: cut those durations estimates in half!
Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business
Currently reading David Anderson’s book – Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business
Really enjoying the case studies presented in regards to the benefits of limiting WIP to increase efficiency.
Kanban has a great use in any situation that could use the structure of a pull system to enter work into the flow.
“Kanban is becoming a popular way to visualize and limit work-in-progress in software development and information technology work. Teams around the world are adding kanban around their existing processes to catalyze cultural change and deliver better business agility. This book answers the questions: What is Kanban? Why would I want to use Kanban? How do I go about implementing Kanban? How do I recognize improvement opportunities and what should I do about them?”
The Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) methodology promotes scheduling projects in a way that is cognizant of resource constraints and avoids multi-tasking. There is a lot of ground to cover on Critical Chain Project Management but in this post I want to focus on a key area that may be one of the hardest to swallow; limiting Work in Progress (WIP) by staggering project schedules.
Your firm may use software solutions to track project tasks and schedules, but there is also a physical, tangible asset in you work flow: the job bag. Instead of reinventing the wheel to create a perfect system to track their location in your agency, let’s “borrow” from the established technique of Kanban. A Kanban Board may be the perfect tool for the creative agency Traffic Manager to track physical assets through your agency.
A Spaghetti Map is a visual depiction of a physical work flow borrowed from the Lean Manufacturing world. Its primary function is to map, and subsequently revise, processes. By performing this exercise you will measure distance and duration, and more importantly, visualize the patterns your processes take.