Agile 2009: The Basics of Reliable Delivery

The key to reliable delivery, according to Mary Poppendieck, is understanding that Workflow is Orthogonal to Schedule. This is my experience report of the session at Agile 2009.

The Secret of Success: The Story of the Empire State Building Project

The goal of the Empire State Building project was to 1) create the tallest building in the world; 2) bring in revenue by opening the building to the public within a year.

The secret of the project team’s success was Focus on Flow, in this case, getting the right materials to the right people in the right place.

Key Sucess Factors

  1. Teamwork of owner, architect and builders working as one team – consulting and involving experts early.
  2. Hire deeply experienced builders (then delivering to a fixed price contract).
  3. Focus on the key constraint: material flow.
  4. Decoupling – creating ompletely independent schedules allowed swift response to impediments/surprises.
  5. Cash Flow Thinking: each day of delay cost $10,000 ($120,000 today), making speed well worth it.
  6. Design to meet constraints – the schedule was not derived from the building design, the building was designed based on constraints (such as building in the middle of New York, the laws of physics, zoning ordinances).

How to Achieve Reliable delivery

  1. Establish high level system goals. Create high level system design based on the goals. Understand what the the business really needs.
  2. Involve those who understand the details early in the design process. There is no substitute for experience.
  3. Apply teamwork based on respect and trust. Managing by solely by contract-based thinking increases costs 30% – 60%.
  4. Reduce complexity with wise decoupling  (eg reduce architectural and schedule dependencies; provide alternate options for ‘Critical Path’ items).
  5. Understand and manage the biggest constraint – know what that constraint is and how to deal with it.

Tips for Leveraging Workflow and Scheduling Together

  1. Level the workload because it provides greater control over the schedule and increases a schedule’s predictability.
  2. Create the schedule with people with knowledge and experience.
  3. Optimise throughput, not utilisation because lower utilisation delivers higher performance.
  4. Ensure slack is built in because it allows for team to respond to feedback and cope with normal variation.
  5. Limit work to capacity.
  6. Timebox don’t scopebox.

One Response to “Agile 2009: The Basics of Reliable Delivery”

  1. Agile2009 : Jour 1 @ Agilex : Agilité et Expertise writes:

    […] et par l’architecture. Pour plus de détails, je vous invite à lire l’article que Portia Tung vient juste de publier. Auquel je rajouterais la comparaison faite entre l’approche […]

Leave a Reply