To put it in the words of John Labellarte, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Milwaukee Valve:
"Things were done more on an ad hoc basis and we were doing far too many projects concurrently without, quite honestly, the realization of how resources were or were not being applied towards those projects. The short version is that not many product development projects were getting completed at all, or on time. And there wasn’t a general understanding organizationally of the collaborative nature in which these projects needed to get done in the future."
Based on their current state, Milwaukee Valve decided to hire Strategy 2 Market (S2M) to perform a formal assessment of their development process. At the same time, Milwaukee Valve was in the process of being awarded a very large order for new products, and it was time to put the right tools and Lean Product Development processes in place to ensure their success.
Milwaukee Valve wanted consistency in delivery, meeting and exceeding deadlines, and maintaining quality. But because they were busy, the solution had to be implemented concurrently with the workload from current projects.
John Labellarte had this to say about the implementation of Playbook and Lean Product Development processes and methods.
"It was a case of both reinvigorating the process alongside the right tools in order to support a new vision of collaborative delivery, where core functions were aligned around strategic goals.
We brought in Paul DeLong from Playbook for about one week. Actually, the implementation of the software was extremely short. I would say probably within two to three weeks maximum, people were up and utilizing the software.
In conjunction with Paul, we had Therese Graff from Strategy 2 Market's help. This was that blended approach that I was talking about. We had Lean Product Development principles as well as core process changes we wanted to make organizationally.
We blended change management with the implementation of Playbook software. Paul and Therese did a fantastic job in setting the tone for the company that this wasn’t just a project, it was a change in process…meaning it was going to be around forever.
We are going to continually work to improve it (the process). This was something that we knew we needed some folks with some strong outside experience to reinvigorate our folks. We had an opportunity to do it better. And our people are really good at embracing continuous improvement. That whole concept really moved us into utilizing cross-functional teams. Once we started to do that, this notion of utilizing the software, developing game plans, and then the huddles and rolling wave planning…fell into place rather quickly.
"(At that time) We were awarded a rather large contract. So, in my view, this was 100% the best litmus test of how Playbook would work, of how the work with Strategy 2 Market would go off, and operationally, organizationally, cross-functional teams, getting everyone...all of the pieces together...how would this work.
I am very pleased to say that we had our first significant major milestone with them (our new client), and not only were we on time, we were slightly early. More importantly, everything worked out as planned. And to come through with something like that spoke volumes. Not only to me as an executive in the company, but the feedback that I got from people involved in the process.
Project team members told me point blank that we would not have done this had we not had Strategy 2 Market and Playbook help us organize and launch the activities that we put in place.
I really felt good about how we communicated with the customer, and more importantly, as an organization, to meet that most important first deliverable...and that was a significant order for our company."
The benefits of Lean project management and Playbook
"It’s early recognition and communication of tasks and this awareness across the organization and all of the functional disciplines of what is required to get this done. It’s an organizational effort that has got to be communicated and have some built in plans for failure. We had successful failures, we had iterations within the game plan. So that when that occurred people said yes we expected this. We consumed some buffer.
We have dashboard metrics that the executive team sees, that the project management team sees and that our customer sees. We have early recognition and communication within Playbook. It is so clearly visible what the critical path tasks are. It’s been wonderful.
We've been working with Strategy 2 Market for about 18 months or so and with Playbook for about one year. And we are completing projects so we have definitely seen the throughput and the ability to stay on task and on schedule... A product development cycle is something now that we really understand with consistency...consistency, demonstrated repeatability, the ability to hit schedule..."