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Fast-Moving Projects #1 – Start with ‘Why?’

Bogdan Górka - 4 September 2018 - 0 comments

If you’re struggling in managing your projects, I invite you to read this article in the hope that it inspires you to launch the agile transformation of your team and switch your methods of project management into Kanban Project Management. This topic aroused the most significant interest during #JiraDay2018 conference.

When beginning the application of anew management method, it’s very easy to fall in love with the very mechanics and novelty of the method, without any prior reflection of what we want to achieve by introducing these changes.

Who is the Kanban method for?

The Kanban method brings best results if you and your team/organization answer ‘Yes’ to most of the points listed below:

  1. Managing our projects is difficult to translate into a standard methodology based on forms, templates, and phases. Our projects are too short, and there are too many of them.
  2. Our projects are short (a few weeks maximum) and it’s the coordination of participants’ activities rather than planning that emerges as the more significant problem. The Gantt chart isn’t handy for planning tasks because we still plan on a regular basis what will be done in a given week.
  3. The number of our projects (what we understand as projects) is sometimes 20 or 30 per month. In each of them, there are several or dozens of tasks involving a few people in our team.
  4. We receive more projects than we can implement. We do not collect data systematically to demonstrate our real workload. That’s why we are always overloaded with work (or so it seems to us?)
  5. We’re not able to unambiguously determine how long it will take us to work on a particular project because there are so many parallel projects that make it all impossible to determine.

Of course, this list does not cover all the possible aspects your team might find challenging in project management. Try to form your points together with the team during a brainstorming session and make sure that you actually operate in the environment of fast-moving projects.

A day in the life of a large company

The introduction of new methods of work and management is a change that needs to be backed up by enough “energy” to succeed. This energy is the long-lasting motivation and conviction to achieve the goal.

Do members of your team identify with these statements? Ask them.

  • I have too much work; I deal with too many tasks, I’m confused and find it challenging to deliver assignments on time and matching the required quality.
  • Sometimes I forget about tasks that I have to accomplish during the week, or I tackle all tasks for a little bit, and then I still take my work home the weekend to finish at least one thing.
  • I keep my tasks in emails, my notebook, and an Excel spreadsheet in which I write down the most critical tasks.
  • Sometimes I come to work on Monday, I spend half an hour staring at my emails, and then I still don’t know what to do and what needs to be finished this week.
  • I run from meeting to meeting; sometimes I don’t sit at my desk until the end of the day and start working at 4:00 PM.
  • Some weeks, I somehow “reach” Friday without knowing what I have done and what still needs to be done (and I’m probably late with).
  • Such chaos causes a lot of stress; I feel that I might make a mistake and get fired (or quit the job myself).
  • I’m looking for a different job because I’m working really hard here while others are spending time going out of coffees and lunches.

Do members of your team have similar thoughts? What do they think? Do they really want to plan and account for their work? Maybe transparency regarding their tasks will hinder them at work? Conduct a workshop with to check what is right for your team.

Before beginning any changes in the organization of your work, check with the team that the transparency and workload which is part of the administration of task management is a price you’re all willing to pay.

What do you need to run the change?

The energy toward change is vital to make the transition from the existing methods of work to the Kanban method successful. Many people are afraid of changing their current status quo. Some fear of transparency and that fear must be definitely lower than dissatisfaction with the current situation for the transition to work. The internal belief in the need for change will help you and your team overcome fear and reluctance to learn new processes and support new systems.

If you think that your team has enough energy to test the change of working methods, then you’re ready for the next step, Task inventory. 

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