Last week I looked at the advantages and disadvantages of the ‘make or buy’ decision. Remember, the ‘make or buy’ decision is where you decide if it’s better to do the task or make the product in-house or whether you should contract with a vendor to do it for you.
There are pros and cons of doing both – but how do you decide for any particular deliverable on your project what the right thing is for you? That’s where you need a process to determine whether making or buying is the right route forward. Here’s an easy 5 step approach that you can use in your procurement discussions.
1. Review existing skills
What skills do you have in the team and do you have the skills to do the task with your in-house resources? For example, you may have some experienced software developers but no one really has the right blend of skills to build the new module for your system. Or you may have plenty of people with the right skills.
Do you need to have these skills in the team over the long term? This could be if you were looking at providing support for that new software module. If you do have the skills to provide that ongoing support already, great, but if not, it’s worth looking at whether you need to get them. If you decide that you do need the skills in-house to provide long term support, then you may have to produce a handover plan with your third party supplier if you decide to outsource.
2. Review potential skills
If you don’t have the skills in your team already, how much would it cost to get them? How long would it take? Look at what training courses are available, how much they cost and whether they would truly give your team members everything they need to consider themselves an expert.
Alternatively, you could recruit a new permanent or temporary member of staff with the right skills. That gives you another option to outsourcing the work – the person becomes an employee with all the permanence and team cohesion that comes with that.
3. Review time
How much time would it take to deliver this work in-house? Do you have the time to do it internally? Even if you do, what would your team members be postponing if they take on doing this task? This, I think, is the critical question to ask. You can have the right mix of skills and experience to take on the delivery of this work but that does mean that those resources aren’t working on something else. Is the ‘something else’ more important? It’s worth spending some time answering this question with the people involved and some of the senior stakeholders. Get together with a tool like iMindQ and write out exactly what you’d be winning and losing if you took on delivery of this task too.
Once you’ve done that and got a full view of the time it would take you, you can then compare that to the timescales proposed by your suppliers. You’ll probably find they can do it faster! And that leaves your team free to work on other things.
4. Review costs
Compare the costs of doing the work internally and externally. In most cases you’ll find that using a third party works out more expensive, especially if you include taxes and procurement fees which you wouldn’t have to pay when you use internal resources. But at least you’ll know and you can then use this data to help you make your decision.
5. Compare quality
The fifth step is to compare the quality of what you could do in-house (as far as you are able) with samples from the supplier. Get testimonials about their previous work. As they are the experts and do this work on a regular basis I would expect them to be able to do so at a higher quality than you can achieve in-house. However, if your team are all conscientious with great attention to detail and your supplier mass produces the widget you want, you may find that your own team will do a higher quality job! It’s up to you to decide if that matters to your project or not.
Finally – decide! You now have all the facts available to you so it should be relatively easy to make that final decision. Make or buy typically comes down to the project management triangle of time, cost and quality. You should weigh up those areas and everything else that you have learned through this make or buy analysis to make the best decision for your project. Then let us know how you get on in the comments!
We’ve gone through the topic of why use the mind mapping technique for your project management efforts before. And this is a significant topic indeed especially when focusing on the achievement of your project goals and establishing a greater productivity. Now it is time to focus a little more on the benefits of mind maps and mind mapping to project managers and project assigned professionals, as this becomes a greatly popular theme among the project management community.
Concerning the project managers’ effort there is always a vast area of improvements regarding the productive ways to deploy project activities, especially by having in mind the number of stakeholders that need to be communicated, various tasks managed and emails tracked simultaneously, with which ones abilities can often be challenged, considering this information overload and multitasking.
By beginning with the usage of a tool such as a mind mapping software, project people can brainstorm their ideas faster and use mind maps to support the first phase of breaking a project into manageable parts. Project managers can also utilize the mind mapping technique to create better action plans by listing all tasks and assign the resources needed for best time management results.
This free eBook sums up the main benefits for project managers that utilize mind mapping software such as iMindQ to improve their productivity and increase their project organization efforts in order to reach project goals and milestones.
When speaking of the usage of a mind mapping software, tracking a projects progress is also done easily. Users can set alerts for the milestones to make sure they never fall behind and by utilizing the Gantt chart view and Work Breakdown Structure charts they can organize all project data and information supported with mind maps or concept maps.
While managing of a project is concerned, mind mapping can help all project people involved, to better manage meetings with the team and also solve emerging problems more effectively. This can be done by setting a project structure and organizing to the level of having the grounds to be prepared and alert for any issues that may arise.
A useful resource for project managers that are eager to start their mind mapping journey is the meticulously designed user manual for Project Management, representing a dedicated guide to all mind mappers that use iMindQ to aid their organization and planning activities.
Possibly one of the most beneficial arguments of the usage of mind mapping within project management is the effective usage of mind maps with the areas of strategic and project planning. This has also been confirmed as one of the most used areas by project managers with numbers coming from the latest research by the mind mapping community BiggerPlate. By means of having mind maps to illustrate the whole process from beginning to end, covering milestones, resources and deliverables, project managers can have a view of the “big picture” when it comes to their project planning activities, thus aiding their project organization from end to end.
To read more about the benefits of mind mapping for project management, you can download your free sample of the eBook on the following link: “Achieve Your Project Goals”.
Making something means using your internal resources to construct a deliverable, for example using your in-house developers to design some code for your new piece of software. Buying something means instructing a third party contractor or vendor to do it for you.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches and on your projects you’ll probably have a mixture of things you buy and things you make. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each option to help you come to the right decision on your project.
Option 1: Make
The advantages of making a deliverable – taking responsibility for delivering it yourself – include:
Avoiding procurement costs: If you make something in-house you obviously don’t have any of the procurement charges that go with buying it, so you save money.
Avoiding legal contracts: There’s no need to set up legal contracts with departments in your own business, so you can get started more quickly as you don’t have to wait for the legal teams to negotiate terms. Read more »
Six Sigma is a methodology for reducing defects to a minimum through a disciplined, data-driven process. The system was created by engineers at Motorola who wanted to increase the granularity of measuring product failings. They discovered that increasing the observation pool from defects per thousands of opportunities to defects per million opportunities allowed them to observe more accurately how improvements could be made to the existing system. By utilizing six sigma methodology to this end, Motorola documented more than $16 billion in savings.
The Six Sigma method of reducing errors has been utilized across a number of fields beyond manufacturing including healthcare, banking, software development, and sales and marketing. Because the methodology follows a strict, repetitive process focused on testing, measurement, and adjustment, many departments and industries have discovered uses for the method in their field.
By utilizing Six Sigma methodology to improve the efficiency of your project portfolio – specifically with resource, labor, and time management – you can develop a system that is both measurable and long-lasting.
There are two Six Sigma sub-methodologies for implementing change – DMAIC for existing processes, and DMADV for new processes.
These sub-methodologies can be implemented to assist with facets of enterprise project management, creating a system that increases efficiency in an effective and measurable way.
The first step in the Six Sigma process is to define the parameters for the project, in this case being the improvement of resource management. It’s important to explicitly outline which projects will be included in the process, as well as what figures will be measured.
Having a strict definition of project parameters is important for accuracy. In traditional Six Sigma, manufacturers would be measuring the accuracy of millions of products, with specific quality guidelines. Because the goal was to have only 3.4 defects per million opportunities, inaccurate measurement definitions could lead to faulty tests and ultimately wasted analysis.
Additionally, the system for improvement within Six Sigma is supposed to be repeatable. By carefully defining parameters the first time around, you can more successfully evaluate solutions on their effectiveness, and choose the best option for resource management.
At this step in the process, you will measure the current state of your project’s resource management to establish a starting point. While you may not be pleased with the current state of resource management, it is still important to accurately measure and record this information to see how effective different strategies are.
In addition, it’s important to thoroughly measure applicable variables. You never know what aspect of the resource management process could use improvement. Recording any foreseeably useful information can help find inefficiencies to improve upon.
Now you can analyze your measurements to find flaws in the current system. This is where your enterprise project management software becomes especially valuable. Dashboards provide you with the tools to easily analyze your measurements.
Dashboards also present findings from data in interesting and actionable ways. For example, most dashboards allow you to filter out unnecessary information in order to view only pertinent data in side-by-side graphs or charts.
By manipulating such comparisons, you can discover hidden bottlenecks in resource distribution, or otherwise unnoticed correlations. While dashboards can greatly assist in the Six Sigma process, there are also other data analytics tools available online that can help provide analytical insight into your data.
For new Six Sigma projects, this is the stage in the process where solutions are designed based on the analysis. Because Six Sigma is based entirely upon figures and statistics, solutions need to be heavily reliant upon the data discoveries made in analysis.
For ongoing projects that have been through the Six Sigma process before, this is the stage in which you develop a new plan for improvement based upon both observations from measurement and analysis, as well as historical data from previous iterations.
All new recommendations and initiatives need to be highly detailed and specific. General ideas for improvement lack the measurability necessary for future analysis and take away. A general initiative might provide temporary improvement, but will lack the necessary detail to make a lasting impact.
The last step of the Six Sigma process is to control the newly implemented improvements. It’s important to remain consistent in the application of changes in order to fully analyze the effect the intended improvements have on efficiency. Additionally, this is the step in the Six Sigma process where you verify your original hypothesis. Did your change in the process produce the intended results?
Allow enough time after implementation for changes to make an impact before measuring fluctuations in data. The appropriate time of implementation depends upon the volume of products manufactured, in addition to the time required for manufacturing and measurement. At a minimum, you should allow for one month of fluctuation due to the volatile nature of new processes before observing the impact. If you decide to begin the Six Sigma cycle again before allowing the improvements to make an impact, then new measurements won’t accurately express potential for change, possibly ending a winning idea before it has had a chance to show its worth.
The Six Sigma methodology is a time tested solution for inefficiency in production, starting with the first DMADV cycle at Motorola. The solutions procured by this system shouldn’t be limited to manufacturing alone. By applying the principles of Six Sigma to enterprise project management, your team can increase project efficiency in a lasting and effective way.
Staring at a blank risk log can be quite daunting! What is going to affect my project and what should I be planning to do about it? Let me help you get started with these 5 common project risks and what to do about them.
1. Poor leadership
This is a really common problem on projects and one that you might not be aware of during project initiation. Too often project sponsors are really excited at the start of a project and give you every indication that they will work hard and support you and the rest of the team.
The reality can be different.
Once the glamorous bit of getting a project approved is done, the hard work begins and they might not be so interested in all of that. Especially when it involves turning up to regular Project Board meetings, taking decisions and being the active advocate for the project! They won’t act like this because suddenly they don’t want the project to succeed. It is more likely to happen because they didn’t realise it would be so much work and because they are happy to delegate everything to you. Unfortunately, that still gives you a leadership problem at the top.
The only way to prepare for and mitigate this risk is to establish a dedicated project management leadership team. Explain the commitment that is required and ensure they are adequately supported as well. Look out for the first signs that their commitment is waning and talk to them about it. An honest conversation might be able to stop the problem before it really takes hold.