Work Relay Essay

3556 words - 15 pages

DRAFT

Problem#5: Overlapping project starts

Starting more work does not equate to finishing more work.

Figure 1: Putting more work into play will NOT accelerate progress
It seems like common sense: the more work is dumped in the hopper, the more work gets done. But when the number of resources remains static, increasing volume of WIP merely increases confusion, increases conflict – and decrases real productivity. While everyone looks busy, the true picture often remains obscure until deadlines approach, when the failure to complete projects becomes all too visible.
Failure to establish an effective mechanism to limit WUP remains a major cause of delays and even failures for ...view middle of the document...

The underlying assumption is that anything less than high utilization of every worker represents a lost opportunity for production.
Though appealing, that assumption is flawed. Somewhere in that production process is a step that cannot produce as many units per time period as the rest of the steps. That’s the constraint.
It is hard to change the perception that high utilization everywhere is a good thing. The belief that local optimizations somehow add up to global optimization is strongly held. Until this policy constraint is broken, however, the physical constraint cannot be managed.

1. Overlapping projects delay one another

1.
Overlapping project starts results in too much WIP

2. Too much WIP leads to project fragmentation

3. Too much WIP slows throughput
When projects are late, executives do not meet their goals. So executives try to push more projects into the system, irrespective of the capacity of the resources to do the work. This exacerbates the already difficult situation, introducing bad multitasking and making the project durations even longer.
As uncertainties unfold, individuals can no longer follow the original schedules and they start to work independently on what they presume are their priorities. By definition, such independently-set priorities are unsynchronized, causing a project to be mostly waiting for something or the other; for example:
* Waiting for resources because they have been assigned to other tasks;
* Waiting for specifications, approvals, materials etc., because the supporting resources that were supposed to supply or obtain these things were busy elsewhere;
* Waiting for issues to get resolved, because experts are firefighting other issues;
* Waiting for decisions, because managers have too much on their plates; and
Waiting for all feeding legs of the project to come together at integration points.
Like an engine without a timing belt, everyone is working hard, but the overall project does not move forward. Lack of project synchronization also causes poor utilization of resources, which adds costs as resources are deployed for longer periods of time. Finally, poor synchronization results in firefighting, multitasking, and chaos.

Little’s Law – if water goes into a funnel faster than it comes out, then the funnel backs up

4. Too much WIP increases exposure to change
Longer elapsed time gives more exposure time for changes. Changes generate more work and extend projects. Meanwhile, unfinished work gets ‘rusty’.
Increase the possibility of rework as new information comes to light that can affect the activity.

1. Too much WIP creates the illusion of progress
True progress in a project happens only at the handoffs between resources, when the work completed by one resource allows another resource to start its work.
It’s what you finish, not what you start.
Assumed progress is an illusion. True progress in a project happens only at the handoffs...

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