We had a chance to talk to Robert Pendergrass, Engineering Manager, about SensorLink's experience with Playbook.
SensorLink develops advanced sensing technology for utility companies, and was experiencing rapid growth. As a result, they needed to standardize their hardware development process. The team looked at a number of solutions and hardware development project management methods including electronic Kanban boards. However, they found Kanban solutions didn’t offer the ability to empower individual team members while accounting for forward planning...
Kanban and Gantt
“We wanted a solution where the team was empowered to take control of their individual activities and task management, as well as plan for the longer term. I knew these capabilities would free me up to do higher-level planning and simultaneously invigorate the team.”
When SensorLink requested a free trial of Playbook, they expected “just a download." Instead, they received training on Lean and Agile methods and Playbook software from the Playbook Customer Success Team. The Customer Success Team also worked with the SensorLink project team to enter their project plans in Playbook, and coached them on effective standup meetings. So while the team was being trained on Playbook, they were also engaged in productive work on a live project.
Lean Agile Tools Offer Unique Solution for Hardware
SensorLink researched many Lean and Agile tools and narrowed it down to the best two. As most of the other Lean/Agile tools were designed for software development, SensorLink felt Playbook was the best solution for the unique issues hardware developers face. For example, Playbook was better equipped to deal with non-work-task resource availability issues, such as procurement delays for parts.
We found Playbook more intuitive for hardware teams and more team oriented (than the other products we looked at). In the daily standups, teams make their own decisions and people get to see the resource interactions, where they fit into things, and where they can contribute to moving the project forward. Potential issues are immediately apparent so they can be dealt with by the team and changes are visible in real-time in the longer term schedule.”
The right team and the right method and tool
SensorLink had the right team in place, they just needed the right tool to support them.
"We had a great team with a diverse set of skills and just as diverse approaches to product development. The fact that SensorLink was up and running in two weeks with Playbook was phenomenal and speaks well of the company and the product. The team and I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome and its impact on our hardware development process. It's been a truly positive experience all around -- from training to implementation."
Pendergrass commented that an additional benefit of the free trial was a smoother transition for team members coming from a more traditional project management background. That is, the training and coaching were very helpful in encouraging a culture shift where it was needed.
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