10 MUST HAVE FEATURES FOR
YOUR PLANNING SOFTWARE
In the LinkedIn Critical Chain discussion group, my friend Jan van Egmond put forth his 10 must have features for planning software. A pretty good list, and timely, since I have just finished my book, Addicted to Hopium. While the business novel in this book is focused on throughput, the next will be focused on lead time, and critical chain thinking will be a big factor. The DVA thinking in A2H and the 10 points Jan brings up led me to thinking about doing a comparison.
Thirty years ago, the new Cadillac Detroit Hamtramck plant was in trouble. It couldn’t make demand. It was in start up mode when I went to get my Master’s degree at Purdue University, and was still in start up mode when I returned in January 1987. This crisis drew a small cadre of GM’ers to a bottleneck identification tool called C-Thru, and a Theory of Constraints book called The Goal. By the end of the year, I had formulated the Throughput Improvement Process at Detroit Hamtramck, a method of addressing and resolving bottlenecks on a continuous basis.
From time to time, I like to look at some of the LinkedIn conversations and put down a few comments on them from my point of view. They can be a bit lengthy, I like to take some time and in this blog and go into some more detail. This blog item appears in LinkedIn, but is also available on Roland Lester's website. The link is at the bottom. It's an interesting perspective on production lead time (not project lead time).
Lead time, from a customer’s perspective, lead time is the time from when you made a commitment to the customer to the day you have committed to deliver that product. Lead time is a basic element of customer value. "How long will it take to get?" is usually the second question asked after "How much is it?" If you cannot deliver a product in an acceptable amount of time, a customer will see no value in your product, and will buy a similar product from a competitor who promises shorter lead time.
For retail, instant gratification detects that this lead time essentially be zero, and the customer is willing to spend more money to slake that thirst. Having the ability to both have and maintain that inventory so that lead time is zero makes a happy customer and generates profits.
At the same time, promising a deliver date and failing to meet that date on a consistent basis with a customer deteriorates customer value, since it is seen as an inability to keep a commitment. Your customer may be willing to pay more to a competitor who delivers on time, leaving poor reviews and bad comments in their wake. In the age of instant, widespread communication, having a bad reputation for on-time delivery can leave a long shadow, even if you have a large share of the market.
So lead time is important because it impacts profitability, demand, and customer value.
Now that I am out of the consulting game, I want to spend some of my time trying to spread Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes, especially Clouds. Clouds are used for Conflict Resolution. I will probably add a page to my www.leanontoc.com website to cover some basic training. Until then, I’ll put up some conflicts in the form of Clouds.
Should be interesting, especially the comments. Realize this is more an exercise of examining conflict than coming up with “THE” solution.
Let’s start by showing the training clouds I used in my training class – from Beauty and the Beast. Belle has just run away from the Beasts castle in the woods, when she is attacked by wolves. The Beast suddenly appears, battling and driving off the wolves. He looks at Belle and suddenly collapses from his injuries. Belle finds herself in a conflict — Should she leave the Beast in the woods or take him back to the castle?
Much has been made in the news about the conflict between the FBI and Apple as it relates to unlocking a phone owned by the county that employed the Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Recently a dramatic new twist in the ongoing battle between Apple and the FBI unfolded on Monday night when the U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal judge to vacate its hearing with Apple that was scheduled for Tuesday. Mobile forensic software and solutions provider Cellebrite is the company that has been retained by the FBI to break into the phone.
Saw an interesting question on LinkedIn about a Cloud for Training. I took one that I had done in the past and have put it up for review.
There are two things are work here – one making the assumption that training employees may cause them to leave, and untrained employees will probably stay. The question really gets down to Training or Not, and what will motivate an employee to stay or leave.
One of my favorite Leadership examples comes from my student days at Cadillac in Detroit. You would see this document posted on bulletin boards, in offices, etc. It's called the Penalty of Leadership, and comes from a Cadillac ad placed into the Saturday Evening Post in 1915. It's great insight for anyone trying to become a leader or a change agent.
“In every field of human endeavour, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same.
As a Theory of Constraints expert working in the Project Management, Production and the Supply Chain fields, I have found few software tools that help me create focus on the constraint in a business. LiquidPlanner is one of those tools, with its short learning curve and easy to understand analysis.
I am currently writing a book on some of the key reasons PM fails, called “Addicted to Hopium.” In this book, I talk about the DVA business model – Dependency, Variation, and Analysis – that drives an improvement process that becomes an entrenched routine. The DVA portion of this process fits nicely with LP.
According to a Gallup Business Journal article, 39% of projects fail due to lack of planning, resources, and activities
DVA attempts address these failures with DVA by insisting on collaboration of key resources that yields:
You can look through the LiquidPlanner website and see many, many benefits that indeed make LP a great Project Management choice. But the most important benefit receives little attention – the ability to handle variation. To understand this, let’s walk through a typical set of steps and see where they lead.
The process starts with a simple question:
There is a basic difference between LiquidPlanner and most typical project management software packages -- the ability to add a range of time for the completion of a task. This seemingly small feature allows estimators to have a different solution to the conflict they experience now.
In the Theory of Constraints world, a "Evaporing Cloud" is used to represent this conflict. These clouds demonstrate the logic behind the conflict, to ensure there is understand of the conflict and the resulting action that is taken. Here's a simplified version: