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Applying Kanban to IT Processes 3: Short Term Project

by Eli Weinstock-Herman

In the third article in the series, Eli presents us a situation, in which Kanban is used to track the progress of a short term project while staying on top of the equipment being the project's subject. The goal here is to manage the project and refrain from generating additional costs associated with software tracking, equipment deploying, training or doubling up the effort.

The PC deployment tasks

The IT section of this fictional company involves 15 people, out of which just 2 are concerned with assigning and ordering the equipment. They were given a lot of liberty in completing their assignment, and the one thing required from them is keeping the process transparent and report frequently. The team is meant to deploy 160 new PCs and 40 new laptops, and to refresh and redeploy 120 PCs and 10 laptops.

The process

Initially, the process has been set as combined of the following stages:

  • Reception (of the equipment)
  • Inventory (tagging the new equipment)
  • Imaging (installing the OS, drivers etc.)
  • Customization (for the designated user)
  • Office software (installation and trouble shooting)
  • Custom installation
  • Audit (running it and linking assignments for the re-deployed PCs)
  • Deployment (for the end user).

In previous years, there has been a 5% rework, resulting in missed configuration. To avoid this, the technicians have now come up with a tagging system – each unit is assigned a card, with its top right corner serving as a Kanban card, and the rest filling the role of a check-list. The cards also have a check-box for indicating both execution of a stage and its verification. The stages are now visualized on a Kanban board.

The Kanban board

The board has WIP limits applied in a way that matches the longest installation times in the process. The way this is meant to work is facilitating a maximum throughput for the longest installs, to minimize time wasted on waiting for the computation. This goes for the imaging, office software and auditing steps (as they require little human interaction and a lot of waiting). For the customization stages, when this situation is reversed, the dynamic changes and the WIP limits therefore decrease.

The reporting

The team has set to be reporting weekly on their work in a few manners:

  • progress reports – with a burn-down chart
  • inventory to deployment – the average time of delivery (the full cycle) compared to previous years values
  • user satisfaction – successful deliveries compared with necessary rework

The approach analysis

Thanks to the system's transparency, the team managed to balance the delivery and keep to a steady pace. They were also able to adjust the process' rhythm in such way, that enabled them to time the new PC orders with their ongoing work. With the tagging ans assigning of users to units prior to doing the work, a lot of rework had been prevented. Thanks to the smoothness of the process, the team had also been able to provide a constant flow of available equipment, as well as the information on location of all items at all times.

The ability to estimate the completion times more accurately has resulted with direct funds and time savings. Also, the simplicity and readability of the reporting data had enabled the team manager to just present it at review meetings, without the need to extract valuable data beforehand.

Conclusion

To sum up, the results of taking this approach were:

  • Great process visibility, for all parties along the line
  • Better morale
  • Time & money savings
  • Increased productivity
  • Valid, measurable improvement

A great benefit of applying Kanban in this way, apart from the ones listed above, is the awareness it created in showing that Kanban can be implemented to temporary and short-term projects just as well as to manage full-scaled workflows.


Read our article on Kanban for short intense projects »
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