Part of my role at The C2 Group is to manage the process we use for doing what we do, specifically how to turn out work to our clients faster and with better quality. The problem is that our work comes in all shapes, sizes, and severities. When not well managed, it all tends to collide.
In an effort to solve this problem, I needed to find a way to better understand the workflow issues at hand in order to optimize the process that already existed to streamline ticket management. My primary goal was to give clients predictable and acceptable turnaround times on the work they needed without having to ask our employees to work extended hours. My secondary goal was finding a way to protect project timelines while allowing for all other unanticipated support work requested by clients.
I was not the first to encounter this challenge and after extensive research into potential solutions, I selected Kanban as C2’s primary method for ticket management. Kanban is a system developed for lean or just-in-time production. It translates literally to “signal board”, and establishes a visual representation of work that everyone on our team can use to quickly identify work status and backlogs. We built a Kanban board in our development room and trained everyone on the process, ironed out a few kinks along the way, and very quickly found ourselves “Kanban-ing”.
The visual representation of work was a big win for the team, but also demanded that other “rules” be established within the overall process. These rules included:
- Establish work-in-process limits per resource. No one can be doing multiple tickets at one time and do them well. Stop trying.
- Anything that takes longer than a day to do is pulled out of the system. A slow car causes a traffic jam, so does a slow ticket.
- Stop interrupting people working to find out ticket status. They need to work, and the constant creation of status reports is not a value add.
- Work is not pushed out to resources. It is pulled in as they dedicate time available. This allows for fewer interruptions and therefore better focus and better quality.
Within six months we saw huge gains in our workflow. Resources were happier, project timelines were running on time or ahead of schedule, and the impact of supporting “fire drills” dropped significantly. Once the process was in place and working for over a year, we decided it was time for a digital tool that supported this way of working. There were off the shelf options available, but none aligned with what we specifically wanted. So, we built one. And it’s awesome – take a look at this demo.
Stay tuned for a future blog by the man who brought the design (and process) to life in our new tool.