Delivery Date? Let Me Check My Crystal Ball…

How often are you pressured to commit to unrealistic delivery dates? How do you know if your projections are good or bad? How can you effectively convince others when you’re going by gut feel?

Find yourself constantly asking these questions and more? We recently launched a new feature that helps take some of the guesswork out of delivering real-world estimations.
Abracadabra Delivery Date
When someone is asking you for an estimate, what they’re really asking is, “When can I have it?” What they’re really telling you is, “I wanted it yesterday.” In these situations, project managers are subjected to unreasonable pressures:

No time. Stakeholders hate to hear that creating estimates takes time. And consumes resources. “What do you mean I have to pay to find out how much it’ll cost?” Sound familiar?
Limited information. When estimates are requested and there are too many variables to create a reasonable response.
No benchmarks. Only in the most highly rigorous organizations do you find project benchmarking being captured and managed.
No training. Project managers rarely have formal training in project estimation.

More often than not, coming up with a delivery date is tantamount to crystal ball gazing.  Many project managers find themselves waving a finger in the air, making a “guesstimate” based on an imperfect understanding of the requirements. And however hard you try to account for all the uncertainties, you’re screwed.

Deliver early? They’ll assume you padded the estimate and won’t take future forecasts seriously.
Deliver late? You’ll be roasted for increasing the cost of the project, negatively impacting ROI, and putting dependent business milestones at risk.

In an ideal world, accurate estimates would be available instantly without wasting people’s time and they would be produced in tangent with a complete understanding of the solution you’re planning for. How often does that happen? How many times have you guessed wrong? How much developer time have you wasted creating estimates only to have them discounted, ignored or subordinated to someone else’s whim?

In an attempt to step a bit closer to project management Utopia, LeanKit has recently introduced a Forecasting and Risk Management solution. To learn more about generating accurate forecasts to help you predict delivery dates, please contact sales@leankit.com.

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Get on Board

File this under, “Getting Started with Visual Management.”

I was at a customer site the other day as they had expressed interest in learning more about the metrics and reporting capabilities available in LeanKit.

As we were looking at their board I was struck by the sheer number of cards showing work in progress. Many of them had due dates assigned too. All of them in the past. Odd.

As we dug in they shared that:

Due dates – despite their best intentions – were turning out to be more of a suggestion than a requirement
They weren’t paying attention to WIP limits either. At all. (Hence the number of cards on the board).
Expedited/unplanned work never got reflected on their boards. It just got “handled.”

All of which led to a discussion about what they were expecting to achieve by tracking metrics. If the data on the board wasn’t “real” – the metrics wouldn’t be either. No real sense analyzing them. Yet…

A good reminder that when starting out with visual management, keep it simple.

One of the initial benefits of adopting visual management is that it forces you to lay out your process. That’s the first step. It’s amazing how many different impressions of what actually happens within an organization exist. Describing them in a visible and transparent way exposes assumptions and draws out opinions.

Next, you can visualize all your work; see it flowing through the system. It seems like a small thing – but it can be absolutely transformative. But this is only effective if you really (1) put all your work on a board that, (2) accurately reflects your process.

These first steps don’t require you to do anything differently. It just makes evident what is really happening – IF YOU DO THEM.

Many customers find just this part of the process to be a huge win.

Limit your WIP, monitor metrics, optimize your process, speed your delivery. Yes. Do that when the time’s right. When you have a good handle on your process, you can see ALL your work and you’re ready to look at incremental ways to improve.

Keep it simple – just get your work on the board. Everything else flows from that.

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