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What does not work – Queuing Theory


Queuing Theory

Queuing theory is the study of waiting lines and is associated with business in determining resources needed to achieve service business throughput objectives, but it does not just apply to services and material handling.

Queuing Theory and Billable Hours

I have worked at companies that had a target for billable hours, that well in the 90%. That is, 90% or more of the hours the employee worked, had to be assigned to specific project work. The organization treated the time an employee was at work and available to work on specific projects, at nearly 100%, so for example, in a 40-hour work week, it was expected that 36 hours or greater were dedicated to specific project activities.  This was recorded in the project schedule.

Queuing Theory and Product Development

The impact of queues on product development and knowledge management in general is explained well in this Harvard Business Review article a snippet of which is found below:Continue reading


Poor Process or Poor Execution


Poor Process or Poor Execution

I have used both conventional approaches to projects, as well as agile.  In fact, i have used some of the agile techniques in conventional projects with success. I know, anecdotal but perhaps an interesting anecdote.

Conventional projects have had considerable high failure reported (Standish Group Studies for example).  The problem become, why these conventional projects fail.  For example, I have been on projects where the project manager is seldom seen, where conventional project processes are ignored or executed poorly.  There can be many reasons for failure, poor process, poor execution or poor strategy, can end in the same failure.  It is like a play in football, if the offense executes it well, we may get a touchdown. If we have not play, or execute a good play poorly, we might fail in both cases.

So the question becomes what is the root cause of the failure? For example, I wonder how the strategy was selected for … Continue reading


Product Development – what does not work.


What does not work -duration

Besides wasting time planning out many months into the future as if we could see and control that far ahead, there have been studies over the years that have established an inverse correlation between the length of time a project runs and project success rate.  Perhaps this does not sound so odd, given the more tasks we have or the more work we must do, the greater the risks. Consider a product and the opportunities for failure, the more parts, the more opportunities for failure or more failure points.

There is no silver bullet when it comes to product development. However, there are some things that studies tell us what does not work.

Duration

First, the planning and long-term project or treating the job like we know the details 6 months to 3 years in the future.  There are studies from the Standish group that illustrates the project s longer than 6 months in duration have … Continue reading


Things that Secretly Sabotage Projects and Teams -Cognitive Bias


(Lexington, NC, September 28, 2018)  – Cognitive biases are always at work, playing dirty tricks behind our perceptions. Jon M. Quigley, Founder and Principal, Value Transformation, will address this issue in his latest presentation, “Things that Secretly Sabotage your Project and Team” to be held on Thursday, October 4, 2018 from 07:00 pm to 07:50 pm at Turbine Hall, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Project managers and teams of all organizations have experienced this common conundrum: their team members are capable, intelligent and well equipped, yet do things that appear to make no sense. The signs of bias at work here are hard to see, but that is most likely the case.

In his talk, Jon Quigley will reveal how cognitive bias impacts work, the most common biases we are likely to be affected by, and how they influence selection of strategies, team development, and other areas. The takeaway from the session will include ways to transform a group of … Continue reading


Common Cause and Special Cause Variation


Variation!

Though sometimes we may refuse to recognize it, the world is a full of variation, even in the things we think or believe are constant. For example, my wife has been known to say, “you always do…” or “you never do…”, to which I retort, I am human and I am not that repeatable.  I say that, but it is not just humans that are not so repeatable.  Everything has variation, and understanding this variation, is important for product development, project management, manufacturing, product testing and so much more.  To master this work, we need to understand this variation as completely as possible.

Common and Special Cause Variation

Shewart is credited for developing the concepts of special and common cause [1].  Special cause variation, are variations that are outside of the expected (intermittent) range of possibilities. Common cause variation, are the variation expected, we know about these, these are predictable, provided we have put some effort into learning about … Continue reading


No Estimates, Business Case, and Sunk Cost


In our earlier posts, we explored abuses of estimates, and then the need for the estimates in the business prioritization or what projects shall we undertake, and securing the resources to accomplish the objective.

Business Case

In the prior blog we discussed the connection between the estimates and the business case for the work.  The business case, as we have seen, compare the costs for undertaking the project against the return or income generated.  some of these comparative approaches (IRR) allows the organization to compare the proposed project against other investments the organization could otherwise undertake with this amount of money, but in all cases we are trying to understand if the proposed project is prudent use of the organizations resources or if it is a low return and high risk endeavor.  We wold not want to spend $1Million to make $250 Thousand.

Estimates and Gate Reviews

We will derive the estimates, but our organization may … Continue reading


Instead of No Estimates


Instead of  No Estimates

Instead of no estimates, we should consider adjusting our approach to estimates that eliminate the abuse, and still allows for the answers to the business questions, “does this project improve our bottom line” allowing the business to determine if the company really wants to undertake the project, and if so, do we have the talent and resources to undertake this project.  Answering these two questions initiates the next steps to actually create a project and being planning and doing the work.

Besides the techniques below, we can estimate from top down, estimation comes from managers and executives, or bottom up, that is those doing the work or closest to the work, provide the estimates. There are draw backs and benefits to each of these approaches.

Estimating Techniques

There are many techniques for estimating.  Experience suggests organizations may not use much more than the least helpful, expert judgement.

Analogous Parametric PERT Simulation (Monte Carlo Analysis) Expert Judgement Analogous

Instead … Continue reading


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