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85% Reduction in time to market

Industry: Grid Solutions

Result: 85% reduction in time to market

How do you maximize a team of exceptionally skilled people to deliver the best possible product to market under a highly constrained time frame? This was the problem a grid solutions company in the Bay area was trying to solve…

According to the CTO, the team, both highly motivated and innovative, was ready to embrace a new method and toolset and decided to implement Playbook.

The adoption of Playbook’s lean and agile approach was key in aligning so many different work streams, and the results were astonishing.

“What we have achieved with a unified method and tool is multidisciplinary communication synchronized at high-speed...We took what is typically a 6 to 9 month timeframe for designing, building and launching high-powered custom transformers down to 5 weeks. Simply amazing.”

LISTEN TO THE CASE STUDY(1 MIN.26 SEC)

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...Playbook added that catalytic capability to use all the other pieces in the right way.”

- CTO, Grid Solutions Company

This Silicon Valley based company is the leader in grid optimization solutions that leverage its patented modular power flow control technology. Driven by a world-class leadership team, the company works with utilities globally to address the unique challenges of the rapidly evolving electric system.

14 Month Project Completed in 7 Months

Industry: Medical Devices

Result: 15 Million in Extra Profit

How do you develop a highly complex medical device in a highly regulated environment in half the time—while you’re busy hiring new people?

As a result of an acquisition, a new division at Arthrex had seven months to build a company and launch a product before their next major trade show. However, their baseline plan showed it would take fourteen months to complete the product.

You can watch the Craig Speier, Director of Engineering, talk about Arthrex's experiences here in a pre-recoded video webinar. 

Fortunately, their Engineering Director had worked with Accuer at a previous company. So rather than jump in and ramp development as fast as possible, they paused for a week and brought in Accuer to set them up with Playbook and the embedded lean and agile project management methods. This allowed them to create flexible plans, communicate correct priorities, and keep everyone informed so that the project wouldn’t slip a single day without them knowing right away. Sure enough, seven months later they achieved their goal of making it to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons conference where they received over 150 pre-orders for their product. Their early-to-market success netted them an estimated $15M dollars in extra profit.

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“The level of communication, the level of accountability, the visibility of progress is unprecedented here. So we are very happy with that.”

- Craig Speier, Director of Engineering

Arthrex is a global medical device company and leader in new product development and medical education in orthopedics. With a corporate mission of helping surgeons treat their patients better, Arthrex has pioneered the field of arthroscopy and developed more than 11,000 innovative products and surgical procedures.

Enhanced Team Collaboration Means Unprecedented Success for Milwaukee Valve

Industry: Industrial Manufacturing

Result: Additional Orders from Happy Customer

Due to a recent increase in new business opportunities, Milwaukee Valve's new product development initiatives had outgrown what the current processes could support

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..."

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A product development cycle is something now that we really understand with consistency, demonstrated repeatability, and the ability to hit schedule...

- John Labellarte, VP & Chief Operating Officer of Milwaukee Valve.

Established in 1901, Milwaukee Valve excels in quality and service from concept through engineering, manufacturing, and installation and service. Today, Milwaukee Valve manufactures more than 5,000 manual and actuated valves that meet the exacting demands and rugged service conditions across many industries.

Toss manual project boards and complete 28 projects in 9 months

Industry: Medical Devices

Result: Twice the throughput

A medical device company had been using manual project boards for several years with great success. However, due to the recent launch of a major new platform, their backlog of sustaining projects suddenly swelled to twenty-eight. Based on prior experience, they estimated it would take 18 months to complete all of them with their already strapped resources...

So they swapped the manual boards with Playbook and were able to complete all 28 projects in 9 months—half the expected time. When asked to explain the results, they listed these as the top benefits of Playbook.

  • Can easily visualize interdependencies
  • Everyone sees the big picture
  • Critical chain management is improved
  • Better detail planning than using sticky notes
  • Can more easily see who is loaded with tasks
  • Much better tool for managing resources
  • Daily Meetings are more efficient
  • Task Owners and Team Members have more buy-in and ownership
  • Improved visibility of things that slip through the cracks
  • Better communication
  • Reduced multi-tasking

“The stickies were horrible, because you couldn't see the big picture. The top-level planning of tasks is good for everyone to see so people can understand what it is going to take to get it done. Yes, things change.”
    --Task Leader
“Playbook is better because the ‘I am waiting for you’ or ‘I need something from you’ is in the system rather than in the stand-ups.”
    --Task Leader

All new staff are introduced to Playbook as part of their orientation. Lean product development is now part of their culture.

 

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“I like how quickly we can see the impact of a delay on a small task. Now we can see when a task has an impact on the schedule.”

- Task Leader

+$1B medical device company.

100% of NPD projects with 50% Less Resources

Industry: Engineering Services for Department of Defense

Result: 100% of projects completed with 50% less resources

RAM had recently implemented Playbook Lean project management software to help meet critical project schedules for their customer when an unexpected 50% reduction in workforce occurred

With only nine months left to finish their projects, they depended on Playbook to keep the priorities sorted and were able to finish their existing projects on time with only half of the originally planned people.

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“My team is empowered. Their day is less confusing. They do their own planning. They are ‘tickled pink’.”

- Sr. Program Manager

Research Analysis and Maintenance, Inc. is based in El Paso, Texas and provides the complete spectrum of information systems services and support to meet Government and corporate customers' needs including technical services to our Department of Defense customers and have particularly strong credentials in research and analysis; developmental and operational testing; training development and implementation; threat systems; and operations and maintenance support for ranges, training centers, and other major facilities.

Twice the Scope, Half the Time…!

Industry: Enterprise IT Project

Result: A project completed in 10 months that could have taken four years

A very large aerospace company had to upgrade one of their Enterprise PLM systems. They had done the same thing before, and due to the high number of customizations, it had taken two years to complete. The problem was, the scope of the project had doubled since the last time—more software, more data, more users and more customizations. The prospect of it taking more time than the last time was unacceptable

Fortunately, the CIO was a fan of Lean and hired Accuer to show them how to run this project using the lean and agile methods on manual boards. The results couldn’t have been better. Instead of taking longer, the entire project was completed in 10 months—even though the scope was twice as large as the time before when it had taken two years to complete.

When asked to explain the results, they listed these as the top benefits of Playbook.

⦁ Takes opinions and emotions out of decisions
⦁ PM knows months ahead of time that the end dates are changing and why
⦁ People know, every day, what their most important task is
⦁ People know, every day, what their next task is
⦁ People know what they are waiting for (if they are waiting)
⦁ Information handoff is faster
⦁ Resources in both departments are freed up months earlier
⦁ In many cases, the resources are working fewer hours on this project than they did on the last similar project, which was smaller
⦁ If we lose a person for their allotted time one day, it extends the schedule one day
⦁ If a single critical resource is not able to work the project for one week, the end date will go out one week
⦁ If we could double the capacity, or availability, of all the resources, the schedule could be cut approximately in half. Cost is the same.

Same cost, shorter schedule, future flexible resources

As a result, the team won a well-deserved company award for this project.

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“There was added expense of hiring technical services and training our team in the methods used. But conservatively, the savings from the reduced project time paid for this expense within three to four months—at least a 300% ROI.”

- Sr. Project Manager

$20B multinational defense, security and aerospace company

The Origin of Playbook: Eight Months Early and 20% Under Budget

Industry: Medical Device

Result: Eight months early and 20% under budget

ConMed Electrosurgery had a consistent track record—new product development projects for their most complicated product line took thirty months on average to complete. However, they had completed one in twenty months on one occasion. So they set a goal to beat that record by 10% and complete their next project in eighteen months

As the division president said, “Cutting new product development cycle time was probably the most important thing we needed to do.”

However, there was one major problem. There was already a major design project that was late that was consuming most of the resources. In order to complete the new project, they were going to have to rely on a new hire in the critical mechanical engineering role, and use a part time project manager from Marketing that had never managed a full NPD project before.

So they decided this was a good time to try something different.

Ken Taylor, the Engineering VP had just read Don Reinertsen’s Managing the Design Factory book and was interested in implementing the principles, so he hired Accuer (the founders of Playbook) to help. After a thorough root cause assessment to determine what was causing the project delays, they customized eight different methods from Lean, Agile and Theory of Constraints. The end result was this project was completed in twelve months—literally eight months faster than their goal, and eighteen months faster than their average. And this was in spite of the fact that it was the second most important project in the company at the time.

An additional benefit to being early was the project came in 20% under budget. As Ken Taylor said, “Not only do you have the revenue increase potential at the end, but we’ve actually spent less money.”

  

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 “Cutting the project time by 50% is not something you can just sort of ignore.”

- Ken Taylor, Engineering VP, ConMed Electrosurgery

ConMed is a global medical technology company that specializes in the development and sale of surgical and patient monitoring products and services.