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Process Improvement Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we’ll need to answer questions and provide feedback.”

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Process Improvement processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Process Improvement performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Process Improvement performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Process Improvement practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Process Improvement performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORT- This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORT- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBD- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES- This is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASE- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARD- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAM- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLAN- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE BASED TRAINING DIAGRAM- This is a set of Power Point diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAP- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

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Process Improvement with ‘FOCUS’ Process-Service™

“Process Improvement with FOCUS is a Process-Service™ offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of FOCUS, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

We all agree that “Boiling the ocean” for a lobster fest is a bad idea. The trick in process improvement is to identify the key constraint impacting your project output. Improving any else just won’t produce the needed outcome. Focusing on the key constraint of your process, instead of every constraint will return significant results. However, you must look for the key constraint of the whole system, and not just a part. Knowing what to focus on will do the trick.

During our process consultancy, we address:

Framework- Continuous process improvement is most successful using a performance measure framework. Adding additional information to the framework produces a process knowledge architecture which places process information next to measure information.

Observe- Effect-cause-effect thinking is built upon observation, the cornerstone to the scientific method, and process improvement. Observe performance, form a hypothesis, observe the test, observe the results, observe changes to the process, observe adoption, … yes observe.

Codevelop- Work with the workers performing the activities of the process. Silicate their ideas and engage their efforts. Let them own the new process as if it were their own.

Usability- When the efficiency and effectiveness of a process is countered by usability; usability trumps benefit. Process stability and sustainability comes from ease of use.

Synergy- Build perceived value in the synergistic effect of activity within the process. The perceived value of the process should be larger than the values of each activity added together. The process is a system composed of smaller components working together to accomplish a business objective.

The pmNERDS process consultancy provides a standard process improvement capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Process Improvement practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Initiative Preparation, The Prepare Cycle, propose Practice Cycle, Plan Improvements Cycle, Implement Improvements Cycle, Performance Measure Framework, Project Best-Practices, Product Best-Practices, Portfolio Best-Practices, Program Best-Practices, Self-Assessment, Cascading Scorecards, Capacity Best-Practices.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies, as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

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Process Improvement Performance-Service™

“If we engage pmNERDS’ Performance-Service™ for process improvement, then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our performance improvement consulting practice, for process improvement begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap. Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities. We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending of the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled.

Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Performance improvement consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and use of a standard performance measure framework.

Our Continuous Performance Improvement (CPI) service uses a Best-Practice deployment framework based on performance measures to guide incremental deployments and continuous improvement. Utilizing portfolio, program, product, people, process, and project management as well as other organizational-enabling practices to consistently and predictably deliver standardized best practices leading to process efficiencies and increases in perceived value, better results, and a continuously increasing competitive advantage.

CPI Performance Measure Framework:

The framework contains the Integrated PM domains of Portfolio Management, Program Management, Process Management, Resource Management, Product Management, and Project Management, shown as letter ‘A’ in the diagram above.

Each domain is broken into a set of standard business strategies; Management & Improvement, Operational & Execution, Leadership & Profitability, Employees & Innovation, Sales & Distribution, Purchasing & Supplier Management, Service & Growth as shown as letter ‘B’ in the diagram above.

The business Unit Enabler Types create the 5 groupings of business enables; Technology, Structural, Cultural, Resources, and Knowledge shown as letter ‘C’ in the diagram above.

Each of these groupings contain business enablers; some predefined and others developed for the specific client. These are illustrated in the diagram above as ‘D’.

The Business Enablers then contain a set of practices, some predefined as best practices, others developed for the client. These are illustrated in the diagram above as ‘E’.

For each practice, we then define targeted performance measures, and actual measures. We are now ready to help the organization conduct CPI cycles. Normally the first time we go through all cycle stages, then leaving the business unit to conduct self-assessments, and may come back for annual assessments.

For each practice, we then define targeted performance measures, and actual measures. We are now ready to help the organization conduct CPI cycles. Normally the first time we go through all cycle stages, then leaving the business unit to conduct self-assessments, and may come back for annual assessments.

The engagement has five major milestones or stages; Prepare for the CPI Initiative, Conduct cycle preparation, propose practices, Plan for Improvements, and then Implement Improvements.

By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes. Our performance improvement consulting practice requires a discussion to determine goals, scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current continuous process improvement or CPI process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort.

To learn more, click the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website. We’d love to dicuss this Performance Service™ offering and answer any questions you might have.

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Agile, Waterfall - Wait its WaterGile! (Trademark it!)

How Agile Product Management has evolved in the last few years An interesting thing has been happening in the market, and it’s not just that everything is moving to the Cloud, or that Facebook is about to go IPO, it’s the very real, and very concrete adoption of agile methodologies across the software industry. Originally a concept that gave birth to the Agile Manifesto (I know I can’t believe I’m referencing Wikipedia), Agile has really taken over as a concept everyone strives for, but rarely achieves. Why is that?

From a corporate stand point, many of the other processes at a company, like fiscal budget planning, employee performance reviews, and marketing campaigns, go through yearly planning and longer cycles. Can you imagine if you “iterated” on your performance review weekly, with a full day spent reviewing your objectives and decided what to focus on the next week? But wait – maybe that’s not such a bad way of approaching it, it provides quicker feedback from your manager and peers and keeps you completely aligned. And that is the heart of the issue, people just aren’t sure how much better that faster iteration is for everyone, they have this fuzzy feeling that there’s value to be had, but it’s hard to draw a line in the sand to say just how much.

Most companies and product managers I’ve spoken to strongly believe in agile, specifically in the following:

  • Responding to customers’ needs quickly
  • Outpacing their competition
  • Spending less time negotiating with engineering and more time coding
  • Bringing more innovation to the market
  • Spending less money “keeping the lights on” (unless it’s a huge margin product, I’m working on a blog post on that topic, stay tuned!)

Yes waterfall processes exist everywhere, either hindering teams or worse, forcing them down a path of least resistance on a journey they know is not as efficient. But is Agile really the cure? Forcing an Agile process from development into a waterfall-oriented company is doomed to fail – and really tick off a lot of people. Hence the term I’ve coined: “WaterGile”.

Every time I’ve mentioned this word, I get a resounding “that’s my world!” – followed by hearty laughs and a few silent tears. And it really does reflect what’s going on in the industry today. Agile development teams are islands within larger engineering organizations, product owners are popping up everywhere, and eyes (or heads) are rolling when people say “we’re trying to move to be more agile”.

The one thing I have to say on this is don’t despair, if you aren’t using sprints, iterations and backlogs, you still might be achieving the core values of agile, which is collaboration, customer feedback and responding to change. Just starting to write epics and stories? Good for you! But if you’re not, good for you too! Understand that Agile works well when it fits within an organization, sometimes that’s a longer process than you’d imagine, and often there will always be waterfall-type cross-functional dependencies.

But react to the market, have a mechanism to collaborate with customers, have something in place to make decisions based on that market data, and get those requirements to engineering with the context they need.

Are you WaterGile? Love to hear about!

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