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 . 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
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.
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, 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.
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
Estimating and Business Case
Our last post explored the abuses of estimates. I thought it best to recognize the abuses, thinking acknowledging these thoughts from the no estimate crowd, may make them amenable to a discussion of how other see the problem and perhaps, eventually, a movement toward a solution that all find acceptable.
Individuals cannot do all the things they want to do, and so to it is for businesses. Whether the business is for profit or a nonprofit, there are limited funds and available talent, that put constraints upon what can be undertaken. These constraining factors lead the organization to optimize the projects that are undertaken to both fit within the capabilities and constraints, but also to maximize the benefit, the benefit being profitability for the for profit, and biggest benefit to the most constituents for the non-profit concern.
In addition to these afore mentioned constraints and benefits, we have risk. There is risk associated with … Continue reading
I would like to start off with has anybody seen an appropriate study of estimating when it comes to doing the work? Not a study that already knows the conclusion they want, but an actual scientific study. The thoughts below are not based upon anything like that but, having seen many estimating boondoggles. I have also read portions of the works of Barry W. Boehm, and Constructive Cost Model which is a tool for estimating, many years ago.
I find myself in many discussions with the #noestimates crowd. I am not a no estimating person. The latest “exchange” was around the abuses that estimating brings. This I am in full agreement with them. I just do not go as far as they would to say, no estimates because people are abusive in this regard. My retort, people abuse antibiotics, but we do not ban these. It is interesting to note that most if not all the people I … Continue reading
Below is the result of a collaboration with John Cutler. He posted a document on Google Docs, and I liked the outline so much I felt compelled to post my thoughts In fact, it was surreal adding my contents to the Google docs and John coincidentally showed up on line, at the same time and was approving my contribution as I was writing it! I had to write fast to stay ahead of him. I wrote the top level part of the outline, making it easy to think about that topic and what can and often does go wrong. It was such an interesting collaboration, unscripted, accidental, and fun. We had talked about making a short video, teasing out a few of the more interesting ones and talking about them, but the new father has plenty of other more important work. In fact, the collaboration was so easy, it turns out making a decent outline in WordPress … Continue reading
Team Building Phases
Teams are not as easy as throw our collection of individuals into a room together and bang, thus is a team created. We are fond of the description of the steps a team will go through by Bruce Tuckman we list below. Our experience suggests this list to be a reasonable list of the phases a group goes through to become a team.
forming -the collection of individuals are put together storming the clash of personalities as well as social mores norming – the group establishes the group’s norms and mores performing – the collection of individuals are now performing (the sum is greater than the individuals) Collection of Individuals
It takes more than placing people together in a room and pointing them at an objective, will not necessarily turn this collection of individuals and turn them into a team. This story is about the start of a project, actually the first time this collection of people worked together. … Continue reading