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Elyssa Pallai

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Digital marketer and translator, Elyssa spends her time putting NPD and engineering concepts into plain english and working on new and meaningful ways to connect with Playbook's amazing clients.

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You’ve Implemented Agile Project Management Software. So Why Are You Still Late?

Elyssa Pallai- 11/5/20 12:00 PM

Hardware development companies that have moved from manual project boards and sticky notes to Agile project management software or electronic Kanban boards often aren’t seeing the return on their investment that they expected. Why? Project delivery success is dependent on several factors. Some are related to how you apply Agile methods to hardware development. Others are directly related to the capabilities of the software you choose...

Applying Agile methods

For example, when it comes to applying Agile methods to hardware development, there are some methods and principles that are easier to apply than others, such as holding a daily scrum meeting.

The purpose of the daily meeting in hardware development is to ensure the work on the critical path is progressing smoothly (not stuck and being delayed unnecessarily), as well as to actively manage risk. If your daily meeting is effectively a daily status meeting vs. a meeting to actively manage the critical path of work, you aren’t going to get the results you desire.

Teams that progress critical work have projects that move forward faster. Similarly, teams that identify and proactively mitigate risk avoid stumbling mid-sprint, and having to make up for lost time on the backend.

When applied correctly, daily meetings, proactive risk management and completing work on the critical path are just some of the Lean and Agile methods that ensure teams deliver on time.

We have written extensively about applying Agile methods to hardware development and have free training available. There is a lot there, but the payback is well worth the investment in your product development process.

What about software capabilities?

Other factors that may be holding you back are related directly to the capabilities of the software you are using.

Let’s take criticality as an example. Many software tools don’t show you the critical path. The ones that do often don’t show the true path. Instead they base criticality on the last task in the project plan. This usually isn’t the critical path, as there are often lower-priority activities that continue after the last Major Milestone has been reached.

Additionally, tools that do show the critical path only differentiate between ‘critical’ and ‘non-critical’ tasks. This makes ‘near critical’ tasks look less urgent than they are. The result is that these tasks are deferred until after they become critical, causing unnecessary delays.

When teams aren’t working on the critical tasks, the overall project drifts. Each day spent working on non-critical tasks is one day of unnecessary delay on the project.

When looking at Lean and Agile project management software the devil is in the detail. Tools that show true criticality on several levels are worth the investment.

Impact of changes to the plan

Another important feature is being able to see the impact of change, in real-time, to the project board, as well as to the longer-term plan (Gantt view).

The upside to real-time visibility is that teams can make decisions based on complete information and therefore can play a crucial role in project success. Managers instantly know the impact on product launch dates.

Without both the project board and Gantt view, teams are forced to make decisions in the dark. They can't see the real impact of change.

Applying Agile to hardware development

We've highlighted some of the issues that may be keeping you and your team from achieving your delivery goals. If you are struggling to apply Agile principles to hardware development and want more detail around the critical capabilities your supporting tool needs to apply these methods–please reach out. We offer a free, thirty-minute strategy call to answer your questions and assist teams in exceeding their project goals.