Virtual Drum

In this episode, we’ll look at how to regulate the flow of ongoing projects. We will use two approaches:

  • The farmer common sense with management rules
  • A slightly more technical notion (but still less than measuring load/capacity everywhere 😉) : The Virtual Drum

The general principle of these two approaches is to prevent the in-process from continuing to get clogged.

1/ The farmer common sense with management rules.

The idea here is to put in place a set of rules to limit bottlenecks:

  • We launch a project if and only if there is a project plan;
  • We launch a project when the critical resource has finished working on a project
  • When there are more than two reworks on the same project by the critical resource, the project goes back to framing
  • Etc.

The idea is to implement these rules with the ambition to have :

  • Frozen projects
  • Projects ready to start or in the scoping phase

This way, the organization will be able to choose what it is going to do. This is an advantage of these rules when they are applied. Indeed, when a project is finished and these rules have been properly applied, the project team will look at the list of projects that are ready to start and will collectively have the choice of doing this or that project.

However, some long and complex projects may require a more technical approach.

2/ The Virtual Drum

The principle of the Virtual Drum is to identify a resource or a critical task area (with the previously mentioned rules) for each project (this area is represented in Orange on the following figures). Then, the project management tool will study the resources that are mobilized within this zone and will prevent multitasking between projects in this critical zone.

The interest of the Virtual Drum is that it will allow you to plan forecasted start and end dates for current and future projects. As indicated, this remains a forecast. But it allows us to observe a trend in the start dates of future projects… And therefore to guide certain decisions.

Virtual Drum, management rules

Virtual Drum, management rules

The other advantage is that it allows you to perform simulations.

If you have a dozen or so projects that could potentially be started; with the Virtual Drum concept, you can simulate different scenarios and observe the potential start/end dates for each of your scenarios.

We are well, here, in the logic of the globally good.

Indeed, it is less precise than the load/capacity approach but it allows a quick observation of trends. And so, it opens up the observation of load/capacity in a different light.

Imagine that you are using the Virtual Drum. That it gives you the start and end information of each project and that you agree on this information. If you now look at the load/capacity of all your resources, you will have a view of this load according to your critical area/resource.

So, this will allow you to use your non-critical resources differently, without flooding the critical resource again.

What is important with the whole series of articles (Fever Chart, Project Plan and Pipeline) is the gain in speed you will observe.

Indeed, the Fever chart being easy to calculate, the pipeline being visible and the project plan being relatively logical, you quickly have the elements to decide. And that’s where the problem lies.

Because where project reviews used to be about displaying the status of the project (and finding the culprits of the delays), now we have to work together to move forward and accelerate the execution of projects.

Finally, what if, in FLOW Project Management, the key word was Management.

See you next season…

S03 – E04 – Some management rules and the Virtual Drum

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