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Quick Glance Case Study: Project Estimating

“The SECAR method was a great way to help the team build a simple, standardised, customer centric future state and eliminate process waste”

 After completing a ChangeWise Lean Practitioner training course, one candidate submitted the following work-place project to gain their qualification to LCS Level 1c.

The Business Challenge

Our department was responsible for providing cost estimates for new project submissions, these went on to form the basis of funding decisions.

The Business Needs Discussion Group (BNDG) met every Monday afternoon to complete the above tasks. However, no formal process was in place to manage the requests and allocation of cost estimates. This caused two key issues:

  • Increased risk of missing costs due to not including all areas impacted such as, security, support and project management.
  • Lack of history logged against the request (required to explain how costs were calculated).

A Lean review was scheduled to redefine the cost estimation process, including the engagement of relevant stakeholder/s to use the new process. This would ensure the accurate costing and prioritisation of projects.

 Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

Key people involved from client site

Specialists including Business Needs Discussion Group (BNDG), the estimation team and members of the Senior Leadership Team were involved in the Lean review.

Lean Methodology Employed

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analise, Improve, Control)

Various Lean methodologies were used including Kano, SIPOC, Current State Mapping, Fishbone Diagrams, Cause & Effect Techniques, 5 Whys, Silent Brainstorm, Future State Mapping

Lean Activities and Findings

Kano analysis was used to ensure we correctly captured all the user requirements. We then created a SIPOC diagram to agree the high-level current situation, confirm scope and ensure the correct team were involved in the Lean review.

During this process, we realised that the business stakeholders were using various processes to gain a cost estimate, with some stakeholders submitting funding requests without an assessment of costs to support their request. In order to understand these processes in more detail, we used Current State Mapping techniques.

With a better view of the existing processes, we were able to analyse the issues and drill down into the root causes. This was completed using the fishbone diagram and the 5 whys technique:

  • The Cost Estimation Process is not communicated because there is no standard/single agreed process to follow
  • The estimation team struggle to provide a valid cost estimate due to lack of information provided with the initial request
  • No central repository exists for past project costs
  • A clear breakdown of costs is not provided to the business
  • No funding allocation for initial assessment at the pre-need stage

Future State & Benefits

To mobilise The Future State and agree improvements, we ran a workshop where attendees were asked to take part in a Silent Brainstorm. We then voted as a team for the ideas we liked the most.

Using the SECAR method, we designed our Lean future state:

Simplify

  • Business stakeholders no longer fill in extra forms and all cost estimates recorded in the same spreadsheet. This will then be sent directly to the business stakeholder.

Eliminate

  • Remove the inconsistency in processes and create a single best practice process.

Combine

  • Combine the initial stakeholder request process with the idea and assessment process; so all required information is gathered in a single meeting.
  • Introduce standard templates to record the cost estimates. This will avoid any risk of data being missed.
  • We have also introduced quality assurance of cost estimates by the BNDG. This reduces the risk of the business receiving an inaccurate cost estimate and provides the BNDG with an opportunity to identify any consolidation opportunities for similar business needs.

Automate

  • N/A

Reduce

  • The amount of duplicated stakeholder contacts and the risk of not including everything in the cost estimate provided.

To implement the new process, we invited all stakeholders who touched the process or were impacted by the changes to a report-out. This helped us to gain buy-in, respond to concerns and answer any questions up front.

Photo by Ryan Riggins on Unsplash

In Summary

The Lean review has helped our organisation to significantly improve the cost estimation process for new project requests, specifically in terms of ensuring accurate costing up front and early on. All areas impacted are now fully engaged and the Senior Leadership Team have a holistic view of projects to ensure we are combining benefits/costs where possible.

Interested in looking at how Lean can help improve your estimation process for new projects? Contact us at info@changewise.co.uk and let’s talk about how we can help.

ChangeWise believes employee engagement is the foundation for successful Change. Training and coaching your people to use simple continuous improvement techniques will enable your organisation to continuously adapt and stay ahead in a constantly changing and challenging environment.

For updates and interesting Lean Change insights, connect with us on LinkedIn. 

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