When it comes to harnessing the flow of IT operations work, it can be hard to know where to begin. Many teams don't have the visibility they need to prioritize requests or understand workload—two critical ingredients for a productive team. Recently, we sat down with an IT project manager at a leading United States insurance provider to learn why his web analytics team selected Planview LeanKit to visualize their IT operations processes and discover how they have achieved such a massive return on investment.
Q: Tell us about the challenges you faced.
A: As a former all-Scrum shop, we were struggling with the disconnect between timeboxing and the nature of our IT operations work. In IT operations, we are always dealing with unplanned requests, which makes it incredibly difficult to stick with a sprint and deliver our work on time. Furthermore, to deliver our work successfully, we needed to collaborate closely with the web analytics enablement team. Neither of our teams had a clear understanding of the other's progress or status, so it felt like we were in a constant fire drill.
A: After trying to build our board using a few other tools, we determined that Planview LeanKit was the only tool that could completely reproduce our process. Plus, it only took us a couple minutes to figure out how to design a board—a big difference from other tools. Ultimately, we chose Planview LeanKit because the tool is highly visual; it gives us the ability to model complex processes; and it is very easy to use.
Q: How has using Planview LeanKit helped your team?
A: The card colors and icons make it easy to look on the board and see what’s happening with the work, right off the bat. It’s easy for the team to know who’s working on what and communicate with the right people.
Q: As a manager, how is Planview LeanKit helping you do your job better?
A: For me, it comes down to two main themes: process clarity and reporting. Because we are able to see our own process on the board, I don’t need to be constantly asking, “What’s going on with this card? Why is it still here?” I get most of the answers I need by looking at the board or clicking on cards to see the details.
I’m able to generate more insightful reporting, both up and out, so I can keep leadership up to date and also negotiate better for extra resources.
Q: What specific improvements have you seen in your ability to complete new work requests?
A: Depending on the type of work, it used to take anywhere from up to eight or nine days to complete a request. Over the last eight months, we have seen that time steadily improve. Now, it takes more like six or seven days—about a 20 percent reduction so far.
Q: What other productivity gains have you experienced?
A: The combination of adopting continuous flow and using an enterprise kanban solution has been a big deal for our team. Since we are not working in timeboxes, and we have process clarity for our work, there are fewer meetings—and the meetings we do have are shorter. We are able to spend more time working, and less time planning or estimating.
An example of this is we used to spend half a day every two weeks doing our Scrum or sprint planning. The grooming sessions used to take about four hours, but now they are about an hour. Over the course of a year, the time we saved across 15 team members adds up to about 718 hours. Put another way, we will save about 18 weeks' worth of time across the team in a year's time.
Q: How are you using Planview LeanKit to practice continuous improvement?
A: During one of retrospectives, we discussed a part of our process that was not clearly articulated on the board. It was leading to some inaccurate status reporting for our stakeholders. Cards would sit in what we used to call the "post-release validation" lane for anywhere from two to four weeks. It looked like it was taking the Enablement team forever to validate things, when it was actually an iterative process between the developer and the business analyst to finish up the work. We resolved this issue by dividing that lane into four distinct lanes to reflect what was actually happening, which gave everyone a much more accurate understanding of the work status.
Q: What's up next for your team?
A: Our first two goals are to reduce defects by 20 percent and to reduce the time it takes us to complete an incoming request by an additional 20 percent. We will use new reporting to identify pain points and use the data to improve our process and the way we work.
The Benefits of Using Planview LeanKit
Adopting Planview LeanKit gave both teams the process clarity and reporting insight to help them stay in sync, deliver faster, and negotiate more effectively for extra resources. As a result, they realized the following outcomes:
- $140,738.40 | Cost-savings generated by switching to Planview LeanKit—a 1,732 percent return on the team’s initial investment
- 18 weeks | Time the team saves per year by adopting continuous flow and using Planview LeanKit for their biweekly project and work planning sessions
- 20 percent | Reduction in the time it takes to complete an incoming work request
Planview LeanKit equips teams across all levels of an organization with a visual work delivery tool to apply Lean management principles to their work, ultimately helping them work smarter and deliver faster. It allows teams to not only see how individual work contributes to the bigger picture, but it also drives agility across teams, integrates critical existing applications, and enables continuous improvement across the organization.
Interested in learning more? Visit the Planview LeanKit website for a full look into the many different features such as work in process limits, kanban board templates, process and work visualization, Lean analytics, and much more. Or better yet, register for a free trial today to test Planview LeanKit out for yourself and propel your organization toward improved work collaboration and coordination.