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2015 TOCICO International Conference

Transforming Government Track

Bahadir Inozu
Co-Founder and Principal

Mike Hannon
CEO and Principal Consultant
Fortezza Consulting

Hilbert Robinson
Director of the Operations
Project Management Office
Delta Air Lines

Improving Project Portfolio Performance with Buffer-Type Flexibility and Task-level DBR
September 9, 2015

Authors: Bahadir Inozu, Ph.D., NOVACES, LLC, Mike Hannan, Fortezza Consulting and Hilbert Robinson, Delta Airlines

Problem #1:

Project Managers intuitively seek out protection from failure by examining all three buffer types—schedule, scope, and budget buffers. However, CCPM has traditionally focused only on schedule buffers as the primary source of protection from failure. While the consumption of schedule buffer often carries with it the consumption of budgetary resources, this is not always the case; similarly, increasingly prevalent project/task-level methodologies such as Agile typically default to scope buffers. As a result, CCPM’s traditional focus on schedule buffers cause many to perceive it as too limiting to accommodate Agile and other methods in a multi-project environment. Perhaps worse, CCPM’s proven track record of improving portfolio reliability is unnecessarily limited to a single buffer type—expanding to incorporate all three types of protection from failure can further improve its potential to improve reliability.

Problem #2:

Lean, Kanban, and Agile methods have focused recent attention on how to improve the flow of granular task completions, improving team productivity, and helping to push throughput higher. However, these methods typically fail to achieve the low levels of WIP that DBR has demonstrated the ability to deliver. Furthermore, significant attention on granular task-level productivity has been focused in the software-development domain, while DBR has had relatively little application in that domain.

Solution Description

With CCPM’s demonstrated ability to achieve high levels of both throughput and reliability for project portfolios, we will present how buffer-type flexibility can further enhance reliability, and how the insertion of DBR at the task level can further enhance throughput. As an important side benefit, we will also show how buffer-type flexibility can position CCPM as the portfolio framework for a variety of project-level methods, including Agile. Similarly, we will show how the combination of DBR with some Lean concepts can minimize WIP across a set of granular tasks, especially when those smaller tasks are part of a larger task that is on the critical chain. Last, we will show how this approach applies to domains well beyond just software development.

BAHADIR INOZU, Ph.D. is a Co-Founder and Principal of NOVACES, LLC. He is a co-author of "Performance Improvement for Healthcare: Leading Change with Lean, Six Sigma and Constraints Management" (McGraw-Hill 2011). He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and a Theory of Constraints Jonah. He has more than 20 years of performance-improvement experience in government and the healthcare, maritime, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industries. He led more than 20 major applied research projects and wrote more than 70 journal articles and conference papers. Previously, he held the positions of Professor and Chairman of the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering of the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and Professor in the Engineering Management Department at the University of New Orleans. He was also the Director of the Reliability, Operations, and Maintenance Division of Gulf Coast Region Maritime Technology Center for more than 10 years.

MIKE HANNAN brings nearly 25 years’ experience as a Consulting Executive, IT Project Portfolio and Program Manager, Process Engineer, and Software Architect. His background in Project Portfolio Management started at NASA in the early 1990s supporting large, complex initiatives such as the International Space Station and High-Performance Computing & Communications (HPCC) programs. He has managed and consulted on $500M+ project portfolios, and trained CIOs and other senior executives in Federal Civilian, Military, and Commercial environments.  Mike is an active speaker at industry events, including local PMI chapter and community meetings, webinars, PM symposia, and in the Agile community. He is a leading innovator of disciplined ways to integrate Agile, Lean, Critical Chain, and other techniques to drive dramatic breakthroughs in the performance of IT Project Portfolios. He is also the lead author of the recent book, The CIO’s Guide to Breakthrough Project Portfolio Performance (2014).  Mr. Hannan has been a Theory of Constraints Jonah since 2011, a PMP-certified PM since 2005, and has Masters degrees in Information Technology and International Affairs. 

Prior to this position with Delta, HILBERT ROBINSON was Program Manager for Critical Chain Project Management at NOVACES. He is a Certified Theory of Constraints Practitioner and has 16 years’ experience in Performance Improvement, Project Management, Lean Manufacturing, Industrial Engineering, and Theory of Constraints, both in the United States as well as internationally. Mr. Robinson started his career as a Licensed Marine Engineer with responsibilities for the upkeep of all mechanical systems aboard several large cargo freighters and cruise vessels. Mr. Robinson then went on to spend five years as a Design Engineering Consultant at Resource Recycling Systems, Inc., where he performed conceptual design, specification, procurement and commissioning duties for several municipal solid waste management capital acquisitions, totaling several million dollars.

Mr. Robinson later joined The Boeing Company as an Industrial Engineer in the Commercial Aircrafts Division, where he was involved and later led, several Process Improvement Projects both on the production line as well as on a new airplane design program. During his tenure at Boeing, Mr. Robinson participated in dozens of Lean Manufacturing projects, including the role of Co-Leadership of Kaizen events. Mr. Robinson became an Internal Expert in the Theory of Constraints, a role which required him to develop and deliver training content and providing coaching and implementation support to several groups within the company.

After leaving Boeing, Mr. Robinson spent three years as the lead Consultant on the U.S. Navy’s initial experimentation with the Theory of Constraints. In this effort, all four Public Shipyards implemented Critical Chain Project Management on submarine maintenance projects. As a founding partner in Afinitus Group, LLC, Mr. Robinson led several implementations of the Theory of Constraints, presented at National and International Conferences, and has conducted several webinars on the topics of Theory of Constraints and Critical Chain Project Management. Mr. Robinson is a member of the Project Management Institute and the Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization.

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