Lean Project Management

It's all about value

Lean project management is based on "the principles of lean thinking" that revolutionised car manufacturing and went on to reshape all of manufacturing.

The principles of lean thinking are equally applicable to projects and their impact can be as radical impact as it was on manufacturing.

Lean thinking makes business value, not requirements, the key project driver. The "push" of requirements, features and functions is replaced by the "pull" of business vale value. 

Only that work which is essential to deliver business value is carried out. Waste is minimised and value maximised.

We can help you to apply the principles of lean thinking and design projects that deliver regular chunks of usable, prioritised business value. 

As each chunk is delivered, you can evaluate performance against expected value, quality, cost, duration and supplier relationship. No more waiting until the end of the project to get business value or validate key business case assumptions.

But lean thinking isn't just about process, it's also about leadership: defining the right problem, creating a shared vision and using multiple perspectives to generate genuinely alternative solutions. We can help with all of these.

You can read more about Lean Project Management in this article which was also published in Project Manager Today magazine..

Why Lean?

What proportion of IT-based projects deliver what they said they would, on time and on budget? 

We have now posed this question many times to groups of business leaders, technology leaders and project managers. The answer has never been more than 50% and is often closer to zero. If we averaged all of the answers together, our guess is that it would be around about 30% of projects delivering what they said they, on time and on budget. And it turns out  that this figure is consistent with research from the Standish Group and The British Computer Society.

The next question we ask is: do you think the track record has improved significantly over the last 25 years or so?

The answer to this is usually a simple no.

So what's the problem? It's not for lack of investment in processes and procedures.

We believe that it simply isn't possible to estimate cost and duration accurately. The only way we can estimate anything accurately, is to have done the same thing before, over and over again. Anything else is just guessing, especially when a new team is trying to figure out how much it will cost to achieve vaguely defined goal, as is the case for most IT-based projects.

In addition we are all subject what psychologists refer to as optimism bias. This bias not only leads us to be optimistic about project duration and cost but we are also over-optimistic about our ability to conquer the dismal project failure statistics. It is human nature to believe that we are smarter and more determined than those who went before and failed. That's optimism bias.

IT suppliers and their customers are trapped in a cycle of mutual self-delusion that ends up in angry recrimination more often than it doesn't.

We need a different approach.

Gary's Lean Project Management Course is available at Udemy.