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.
I have been working on issues that impact all aspects of implementations of continuous improvement, including Throughput Improvement, Project Management, and Inventory Management. It turns out, in my opinion, there are basics that fit into all of them, with some specifics that fit PM. Many of these match with the ten you mention. I have put these together in the Dependency Variation Analysis (DVA) Business Process that is outlined in my book, Addicted to Hopium. I took the liberty of matching up the points you outlined with the key aspects of the DVA model. Here’s the features I get:
And then a couple of items that are more software specific:
My tool of choice is LiquidPlanner, which was not developed as a Critical Chain tool, but actually is one. If we look at your ten criteria, we see it fulfills all ten:
I have added Variability, because we have acknowledged that variability exists, but have also decided that we don’t understand exactly how to handle it properly at the input stage in the CCPM world. So we’ll handle it at the end based on a rule of thumb. Some software has figured these algorithms out.
I also added Constraint Management, because we found ourselves managing both the chain and the resources who were the constraint.
I took out Agile Integration because, without a better definition, I think that just means it’s clear, and easy to use in a collaborative environment with the customer. And since Agile is mostly for very dynamic changing environments, it may not apply in all project environments. Software development is certainly very dynamic, but doing engineering to order or manufacturing to order, while stressful at time, is not. A good planning system is still required.
I added SaaS and cloud based because of the need to be independent of IT during the start of the implementation. The costs, obstacles, and such of involving IT can kill a project before it gets started.
Issue and Document management is great, but I would reluctantly have to declare it a nice to have, because it can be handle other ways outside of the software. But it’s as close to a Must Have as it gets for me. Oh, what the hell. Let's leave it on the list!