“Lean” meets “Demand Management” in IT – Managing the Constraints

It has been a few months since I’ve posted, but I haven’t been idle – two significant projects (aside from working very hard at the full-time job), only one of which I can talk a bit about at this time.

Tomorrow (Thursday, 16 Feb 2012) , I am presenting at a conference on IT Portfolio Management in Rosemont, IL – a case study on how we use ideas from Lean Manufacturing and Demand Forecasting to solve a fairly common problem for most IT shops …

How do you react when there is more work to be done than hands for the task? There many approaches, but the one we’ve been using for the past 6 years uses a Demand Forecast process to identify constrained IT project resources.

You know the drill – everybody has a favorite ABAP developer, we only have so many BASIS folks, you can only spin up so many servers in a given weekend, etc. In our IT shop, we forecast all work for the coming months, tied to specific resources – and with simple math, we can see who is available, and who is painfully overcommitted (it’s generally not good form to plan on working your teams 60+ hours per week for 6 months in a row, and we try not to do it).

The key, however, is that we only manage the constrained resources – all other project work just flows through the shop. It’s just not practical to try to force-rank prioritize 500+ IT projects of various sizes – and it’s impossible to keep the list in order when new “hot projects” are added every day.

I’ve posted my slides here – I realize that they do not “stand on their own”, and need some explanation, but if you weren’t in attendance at the conference and are interested in hearing more, let me know in the comments. I could be talked into putting together a simplified set of working tools to help establish a Resource Forecast process in your shop – or, if you want to talk more in depth, just drop me a line!

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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.