Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Expediting in Manufacturing is responsible for most of the thrashing.  A pretty standard scenario is when a most-valued-customer comes to their sales person and reiterates how critical their order is and expresses in no uncertain terms what the consequences would be if the order is not shipped on time.  Not wanting to endanger the relationship, the sales person pressures the factory to move the order to the head of the line.  
Expediting in the IT world is when the Project Manager convinces the Stakeholders that the only way an effort will stay or return to schedule is if additional resources are added to the project.  The only way the Stakeholders can secure additional resources is by changing the priority of the project so as to bump resources from a lower priority project onto this one.  Rarely are there spare resources available though occasionally projects might be allowed to hire contract staff to manage a resource hole.  In either case, the effect would be a short downward in productivity while the new staff are spun up.  Though I don’t have empirical data to back up the assertion, I believe that the shortness is directly proportional to the length of time the project has been underway.  The earlier in the project life staff is added, the less disruptive it is.  Subsequent to the downward blip, progress should increase proportional to the percentage that the new staff adds to the entire team.  
Note again, if I have a team of 11 and add 1 person, my forward velocity should increase proportional to the 10% staff increase.  If I have a team of 8 and add 4 people, my forward velocity should increase proportional to the 50% staff increase. However, the proportionality will not be equal and in fact, I would expect the first team to make substantially more progress than the second.
There are two interesting points to make here:
First, expediting in manufacturing does not occur until the process is acted upon by an outside force; expediting in IT tends to get its impetus from within.  Neither force probably takes a holistic view of the enterprise into consideration – both are more driven by: I need this for my customer.
Second, the affect of adding additional social interactions to the undertaking, regardless of whether it is manufacturing or IT, is characterizable, but not calculatable.  When I add more resources to a manufacturing line, the majority of what I add is machines whose performance is imminently specifiable.  When I add more resources to an IT undertaking, the majority are people with their subsequent social interactions.  Organizations rarely consider the automation of processes or the inclusion of tools as sufficient productivity gains to warrant the cost.


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