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The Focus And The Involvement, Key Elements In Improving Processes

Past week Kirk Botula, CMMI Institute CEO, announced that “a record number of appraisals was reached in 2013”.

Spain is the 4th country in the world in number of CMMI certifications, after United States, China, and India. We should expect lots of success stories communicated.

However, what I hear in my courses and in other meetings with companies that use model is that “processes have their proper life, parallel to the real work”, “people do not see value in applying the processes”, “extra hours have to be dedicated to prepare all the documentation needed for complying to the defined processes” etc.

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Kanban and CMMI

This post is oriented to organizations that have used CMMI as model for process definition and improvement, have (or not) achieved some maturity level, and are interested in evolving their processes to more agile, lighter and Lean-er ones. It is also oriented to Agile organizations that need to refine y formalize their processes, and/or obtain a CMMI certification.

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What is Kanban?

What exactly is Kanban?

What is the difference between Scrum and Kanban?

I see it at project level. Is it also applicable at organizational level?

What do I get from implementing Kanban?

These are some of the questions about Kanban that I am asked by people who consider getting started with Kanban in their teams.

Here I try to summarize my understanding of the Kanban method.

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Stop arranging processes! Look at the entire workflow

“Our processes are too heavy, too bureaucratic”,
“We copy the same information in several systems because it goes to different reports”,
“Following the defined process is like having a parallel life of the daily work. Therefore we create all the paper work before the audits”,
“We need lighter processes”, etc, etc.
Does any of these phrases sound familiar?
How do you resolve the dilemma of having processes that comply with a particular model or standard, and at the same time keep them fit?

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Esteban, the bottleneck (real case)

Esteban is in the software development branch. Projects for different clients, all with their particular requirements, critical issues and urgent matters to resolve. Nothing surprising for a person of the IT world. What is interesting is the situation in which Esteban is:
* He leads 5 projects and is involved in other 8 projects as Technical Lead, responsible for designing the solution.
* All projects use technologies that are new for the IT domain as well as for the team members.
* …

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The effects of the variation

Variation is inherent in any process. Going to work every day takes different time although we go the same way and approximately at the same time. Preparing a routine report also takes different time every time we make it.
The variation in our performance affects the time of project or service completion, the quality of the outcomes, the internal organization of the team activities, the workload of the individuals, etc.

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Bottleneck Law

The law says that every system, regardless of how well it works, has at least one constraint (a bottleneck) that limits performance.Bottlenecks can involve people, information, tools, procedures, and may be internal or external to the organization.
Focusing improvement efforts on resolving the bottlenecks is the quickest and most effective path to improving profitability.

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Little’s Law

A contra-intuitive law that suggests that to meet development or service deadline, we must reduce the work in process, or finish it before starting new jobs. However, in lots of cases exactly the opposite happens: the teams start working on lots of tasks so that the whole project “goes” faster.
This is a must-know, simple math that will help you in lots of critical situations.

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