Improving Lead Times

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By reducing the number of links in your IT production process, you can improve average lead times of your IT projects.

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Improving Lead Times

  1. 1. Improving lead times<br />By Paul Brink, March 2010<br />
  2. 2. 無駄<br />Improving lead times<br />To increase the quality and lead time of IT projects one should focus on waiting time, not on cycle time (the time a product is being worked on).<br />New methods, new tooling and new technology will improve cycle time, but much more is to be gained when focused on eliminating waste and waiting time.<br />The elimination of waste is essential to improve the quality and lead time of IT projects:<br />Muda – Remove all types of waste<br />Muri – Improve work, but don’t push it<br />Mura – Merge sub-processes into one<br />無理<br />ムラ<br />Reference: Brink, P.J. Don’t Improve Work, Remove Waste, February 2010<br />
  3. 3. ムラ<br />Mura<br />Mura is a traditional Japanese term for unevenness or inconsistency in physical matter or human spiritual condition.<br />Mura can be eliminated by production leveling. It is possible to smooth the workflow by having one person work across several process steps rather than have different persons working on one process step; in a sense merging several sub-processes under one person.<br />By reducing the number of links in your IT production process, you can improve average lead times of your projects.<br />Little’s law helps us to explain why…<br />
  4. 4. Little’s law<br />Little's Law tells us that the average number of projects in parallel, L, is the delivery rate, λ, times the average lead time, W, or simply:<br /> L = λW<br />Assume in your organization your IT projects finish at the rate of 2 projects per month and have an average lead time of 6 months. This means the average number of projects running in parallel is 12.<br />Reference: Little, J. D. C. A Proof for the Queueing Formula: L=λW Operations Research: A Journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, 9:383-387 (1961)<br />
  5. 5. L = λW<br />This means that by simply decreasing the number of projects running in parallel, you can decrease the average lead time, because:<br />Projects in parallel (L)<br />Delivery rate (λ)<br />Assume in your organization the average number of IT projects running in parallel is 12 and the delivery rate is 2 projects per month, then the average lead time is 6 months.<br />Reducing the average number of IT projects running in parallel from 12 to 8 will improve your average lead time from 6 to 4 months. <br />Lead time (W) = <br />
  6. 6. But how can you decrease the number of projects running in parallel?<br />
  7. 7. By reducing the number of links in your production process<br />
  8. 8. An example<br />Suppose that an average IT change requires the involvement of the following teams or departments:<br /><ul><li>Change Management to initiate a project team which is overall responsible for the implementation of the change
  9. 9. Architecture Team to establish the architecture
  10. 10. Planning and Control to help with the business case and approve budget allocation
  11. 11. IT Board to approve the overall project plan and total fit in the current project portfolio
  12. 12. BPM Center of Excellence to analyze and implement the business processes
  13. 13. Service Management Team 1 to implement the required changes in application 1
  14. 14. Service Management Team 2 to implement the required changes in application 2</li></li></ul><li>The consequences<br />Every time a team or department hands over their work to the next team the receiving team needs to be immediately ready to proceed with the work otherwise it will result in waiting time (waste). To avoid this, precise load balancing between teams is required, which is very difficult to implement.<br />Work that is transferred from one team to the next needs to be well defined and precisely documented to avoid misunderstandings and bad input. <br />When a team hands over their work to the next team it is ready to receive another piece of work, otherwise the team is underused. Therefore, in general, every team is always working on at least one piece of work.<br />This means that the minimum work in progress in your organization (the minimum number of projects running in parallel) equals the number of links (teams) in your production process.<br />
  15. 15. Therefore…<br />Reducing the number of links (teams or departments) in your production process, will reduce the (minimum) number of projects running in parallel.<br />Little’s law then tells us that by reducing the number of projects running in parallel the average lead time of your projects will decrease.<br />Reducing the number of links also reduces the need to clearly define and precisely document the work (half product) between two teams. This reduces cycle time and with that lead time.<br />Because precise load balancing is very hard to implement reducing the number of links will also eliminate waiting time between teams. This will also improve your average lead time.<br />
  16. 16. So…<br />
  17. 17. By reducing the number of links in your IT production process, you can improve average lead times of your IT projects<br />
  18. 18. Geek & PokeHow To Rescue A Project<br />http://geekandpoke.typepad.com/<br />
  19. 19. Paul Brink<br />Website http://www.xs4all.nl/~pjbrink/fotografie/<br />LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/pauljohanbrink<br />Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_brink/<br />My goal is to challenge my personal opinion to the opinion of others. “The many are smarter than the few.” So feel free to respond.<br />DisclaimerThis is my personal private opinion, not the opinion of the website managers, director or editors or the organization I work for. <br />

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