My project management video on YouTube has over 22,000 views. Why? Because everybody does projects and has to manage them. Even if you are a manufacturer or distributor, you do projects.
And we’re all desperate for help. Different surveys estimate that somewhere between 90% to 94% of projects finish late.
So most of us struggle to get them done. Click on the video and see if you agree. It’s only 9 minutes long and you get an overview of the Theory of Constraints Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM).
And to make matters worse, the requirements or specs of the project change often while the project is in process. Which means that not only are we challenged to finish projects in on-time, it’s difficult to finish in spec and in budget.
The challenge is in executing what I describe in the video. It’s not physically hard to do, but it’s counter intuitive and if you don’t have the experience you can get easily stalled.
But, no worries — I’m going to get you started in the right direction, right now. Here’s how you can start tomorrow!
Multitasking is probably the biggest issue. In June 2011 before Dr Goldratt passed he was telling us about a client that had implemented CCPM to the letter, and they had improved, but they said that they felt like they were still doing a lot of multi-tasking.
Upon further review there was still quite a lot of multi-tasking going on at the department level. Historically when we reduce the number of concurrent projects and stagger the starts, we had believed that we had reduced the multi-tasking enough. In this case and as it turns out, in many cases there can still be too much multi-tasking.
So the negative effects of multi-tasking are even bigger and more devastating than we thought. A slight reduction wasn’t enough. Which really isn’t that surprising when you consider all the studies that have been done. Here’s just a few:
Meyer found that “multi-tasking exponentially increases the number of errors made and often the time more than doubles.” (article in Time magazine 2006 by Claudia Wallis)
One study estimated that multi-tasking caused work estimates to increase by 200% to 300% and that total project duration increased by 15% to 25%. (Brown, 2005 article Only Full Time Work)
“You lose 20% of your time [when you context switch between 2 projects]. By the time you add a third project to the mix, nearly half of your time is wasted in task switching.” (Weinberg, 1992 book Quality Software Management Volume 1: Systems Thinking)
And if that wasn’t enough, it can also effect our future ….
UCLA reports that “Multi-tasking adversely affects brain’s learning” (July 2006)
So let’s start by reducing the amount of multi-tasking you’re doing.
First find out how many projects (or tasks) each person has on their plate. Also find out if they deal with other interruptions during the day. For example in many engineering departments the engineers may each have 10 or so projects they’ve been assigned but they also have to deal with plant production problems as they come up.
1. How many projects or tasks do they typically have?
2. What kinds of things tend to disrupt them?
Now if the things that disrupt them can be off loaded, then that’s a no brainer. But that is not always possible.
We can’t always control or reduce the disruptions, but we can limit the number of tasks/projects each engineer has.
A good rule of thumb is 3.
Each engineer is only allowed 3 tasks or projects (depending on the environment) and they must finish one BEFORE they are assigned another. No exceptions (unless the project is cancelled).
Three is plenty for them to work on, especially considering there will likely continue to be plant emergencies and disruptions.
Start applying this new rule and really stick to it, I’ll bet you see a big improvement fast!
The Israeli Airforce did just that(and only that) and improved substantially the amount of aircraft maintenance they could provide. They went from 135 days to less than 30 days on average for each engineering problem.
I’m sure that instruction raised a lot of “yes, buts” and questions. Good — you’re thinking! Go ahead and post them below.
It’s natural to have questions and I’m sure you will have lots more — that’s only part of implementing CCPM. The good news is that Dr Goldratt did a 5 part series on how to implement Critical Chain Project Management. And, he used a “strategy and tactics tree” to explain it.
The strategy and tactics tree was developed years ago and then forgotten until early to mid 2000s when I was with Goldratt Consulting. It’s one of the thinking processes that very few people know about.
S&T trees can be difficult to write. But reading one and using one to communicate your strategy and tactics is pure poetry. Imagine if everyone in your organization was perfectly clear on what they were supposed to do and why, and how it connected to the overall goals of your company ….
And modifying one from a template is very achievable for most.