Could Kanban Be?Best for Knowledge Workers?

Knowledge Workers include academics, accountants, architects, doctors, engineers, lawyers, software engineers, scientists and anybody else whose job it is to think for a living. They are usually independent-minded people who do not appreciate project managers dishing out detailed orders. Kanban project management resolves this by letting them choose the next task themselves.

The word ?Kanban? comes from a Japanese word meaning ?billboard? or ?signboard?. Before going into more detail how this works let’s first examine how Japanese beliefs of collaboration, communication, courage, focus on value, respect for people and a holistic approach to change fit into the picture.

The Four Spokes Leading to the Kanban Hub

  1. Visualise the Workflow ?You cannot improve what you cannot see. The first step involves team members reducing a project to individual stages and posting these on a noticeboard.
  2. Create Batches ? These stages are further reduced to individual tasks or batches that are achievable within a working day or shift. More is achievable when we do not have to pick up where we left off the previous day.
  3. Choose a Leader the Team Respects – Without leadership, a group of people produces chaotic results. To replace this with significant value they need a leader, and especially a leader they can willingly follow.
  4. Learn and Improve Constantly ? Kaizen or continuous improvement underpins the Japanese business model, and respects that achievement is a step along the road, and not fulfilment.

The Kanban Method in Practice

Every Kanban project begins with an existing process the participants accept will benefit from continuous change. These adjustments should be incremental, not radical step-changes to avoid disrupting the stakeholders and the process. The focus is on where the greatest benefits are possible.

Anybody in the team is free to pull any batch from the queue and work on it in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation. That they do so, should not make any waves in a culture of respect for people and a holistic approach to working together. All it needs is the courage to step out of line and dream what is possible.

The Kanban Project Method ? Conclusions and Thoughts

Every engine needs some sort of fuel to make it go. The Kanban project management method needs collaboration, communication, courage, focus on value, respect for people and a holistic approach to work. This runs counter to traditional western hierarchies and probably limits its usefulness in the West.

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Spreadsheet Woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and Other Regulations

End User Computing (EUC) or end User Developed Application (UDA) systems like spreadsheets used to be ideal ad-hoc solutions for data processing and financial reporting. But those days are long gone.

Today, due to regulations like the:

  • Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act,
  • Dodd-Frank Act,
  • IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards),
  • E.U. Data Protection Directive,
  • Basel II,
  • NAIC Model Audit Rules,
  • FAS 157,
  • yes, there?s more ? and counting

a company can be bogged down when it tries to comply with such regulations while maintaining spreadsheet-reliant financial and information systems.

In an age where regulatory compliance have become part of the norm, companies need to enforce more stringent control measures like version control, access control, testing, reconciliation, and many others, in order to pass audits and to ensure that their spreadsheets are giving them only accurate and reliable information.

Now, the problem is, these control measures aren’t exactly tailor-made for a spreadsheet environment. While yes, it is possible to set up a spreadsheet and EUC control environment that utilises best practices, this is a potentially expensive, laborious, and time-consuming exercise, and even then, the system will still not be as foolproof or efficient as the regulations call for.

Testing and reconciliation alone can cost a significant amount of time and money to be effective:

  1. It requires multiple testers who need to test spreadsheets down to the cell level.
  2. Testers will have to deal with terribly disorganized and complicated spreadsheet systems that typically involve single cells being fed information by other cells in other sheets, which in turn may be found in other workbooks, or in another folder.
  3. Each month, an organisation may have new spreadsheets with new links, new macros, new formulas, new locations, and hence new objects to test.
  4. Spreadsheets rarely come with any kind of supporting documentation and version control, further hampering the verification process.
  5. Because Windows won’t allow you to open two Excel files with the same name simultaneously and because a succession of monthly-revised spreadsheets separated by mere folders but still bearing the same name is common in spreadsheet systems, it would be difficult to compare one spreadsheet with any of its older versions.

But testing and reconciliation are just two of the many activities that make regulatory compliance terribly tedious for a spreadsheet-reliant organisation. Therefore, the sheer intricacy of spreadsheet systems make examining and maintaining them next to impossible.

On the other hand, you can’t afford not to take these regulations seriously. Non-compliance with regulatory mandates can have dire consequences, not the least of which is the loss of investor confidence. And when investors start to doubt the management’s capability, customers will start to walk away too. Now that is a loss your competitors will only be too happy to gain.

Learn more about our server application solutions and discover a better way to comply with regulations.

More Spreadsheet Blogs


Spreadsheet Risks in Banks


Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets – obstacles to compliance in the Healthcare Industry


How Internal Auditors can win the War against Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in your company in an age of Business Intelligence


Still looking for a Way to Consolidate Excel Spreadsheets?


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Spreadsheet woes – ill equipped for an Agile Business Environment


Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Woes – Limited features for easy adoption of a control framework


Spreadsheet woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and other Regulations


Spreadsheet Risk Issues


Server Application Solutions – Don’t let Spreadsheets hold your Business back


Why Spreadsheets can send the pillars of Solvency II crashing down

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Finding the Best Structure for Your Enterprise Development Team

An enterprise development team is a small group of dedicated specialists. They may focus on a new business project such as an IoT solution. Members of microteams cooperate with ideas while functioning semi-independently. These self-managing specialists are scarce in the job market. Thus, they are a relatively expensive resource and we must optimise their role.

Organisation?Size and Enterprise Development Team Structure

Organisation structure depends on the size of the business and the industry in which it functions. An enterprise development team for a micro business may be a few freelancers burning candles at both ends. While a large corporate may have a herd of full-timers with their own building. Most IoT solutions are born out of the efforts of microteams.

In this regard, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg blazed the trail with Microsoft and Facebook. They were both college students at the time, and both abandoned their business studies to follow their dreams. There is a strong case for liberating developers from top-down structures, and keeping management and initiative at arm?s length.

The Case for Separating Microteams from the?Organisation

Microsoft Corporation went on to become a massive corporate, with 114,000 employees, and its founder Bill Gates arguably one of the richest people in the world. Yet even it admits there are limitations to size. In Chapter 2 of its Visual Studio 6.0 program it says,

‘today’s component-based enterprise applications are different from traditional business applications in many ways. To build them successfully, you need not only new programming tools and architectures, but also new development and project management strategies.?

Microsoft goes on to confirm that traditional, top-down structures are inappropriate for component-based systems such as IoT solutions. We have moved on from ?monolithic, self-contained, standalone systems,? it says, ?where these worked relatively well.?

Microsoft’s model for enterprise development teams envisages individual members dedicated to one or more specific roles as follows:

  • Product Manager ? owns the vision statement and communicates progress
  • Program Manager ? owns the application specification and coordinates
  • Developer ? delivers a functional, fully-complying solution to specification
  • Quality Assurer ? verifies that the design complies with the specification
  • User Educator ? develops and publishes online and printed documentation
  • Logistics Planner ? ensures smooth rollout and deployment of the solution

Three Broad Structures for Microteams working on IoT Solutions

The organisation structure of an enterprise development team should also mirror the size of the business, and the industry in which it functions. While a large one may manage small microteams of employee specialists successfully, it will have to ring-fence them to preserve them from bureaucratic influence. A medium-size organisation may call in a ?big six? consultancy on a project basis. However, an independently sourced micro-team is the solution for a small business with say up to 100 employees.

The Case for Freelancing Individuals versus Functional Microteams

While it may be doable to source a virtual enterprise development team on a contracting portal, a fair amount of management input may be necessary before they weld into a well-oiled team. Remember, members of a micro-team must cooperate with ideas while functioning semi-independently. The spirit of cooperation takes time to incubate, and then grow.

This is the argument, briefly, for outsourcing your IoT project, and bringing in a professional, fully integrated micro-team to do the job quickly, and effectively. We can lay on whatever combination you require of project managers, program managers, developers, quality assurers, user educators, and logistic planners. We will manage the micro-team, the process, and the success of the project on your behalf while you get on running your business, which is what you do best.

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Field service and its impact on your bottom line

There are many pointers to successful field service in any business. Generally, labour hours, parts, technician efficiency, performance indicators and other bunch of data are the most important. However, the icing on top is the total revenue. If you are in business, you must be cocksure that it’s making money, and when you don’t rake in enough you need to make some business decisions quick!

For the most part, field service companies will always have a field service management software to handle all the data. But how will this affect your outlook? 

Will this cause a direct increase in revenue? 

What will still need to be changed so that the ship stays afloat?

Increase your service jobs

As expected, the best field management software will guarantee a positive increase in appointments per week. On average, the field service team should expect at least a 50% increase in work turnover. There is a direct relation between the revenue you should be making and the number of calls in your schedule since the only way of making more cash is to get more work done. It is not recommended to raise costs because it increases the risk of losing customers easy when they can’t meet the extra expense. Field service software will help you bring in more customers and also manage technicians.

If you have much of the hard work done for you then you?d have more time to run the show. This is why premises are trying out software because they answer many problems like:

  • Automation and improved work order management
  • Fast dispatch from an array of drag-drop scheduling tools
  • Easy-to-use field service apps for technicians to receive and submit work orders
  • Can be integrated into account systems for faster billing time

Manual operations are costly and prone to error, and they don’t come cheap. Do away with them, reduce costs, sit back and watch as new customers steadily stream in. Grow the business by building lasting relations with your workforce and customers.

Increase technician?s abilities with mobile

If you want to get more profit, bank on technicians who complete service calls. Their task is obviously the hardest. They have an unpredictable job; at times they need to come up with quick responses or they may also be required to dig deep as well. The work does not need to be slowed with an endless paper trail while they could be elsewhere giving their all. These technicians require a working mobile field service management app.

As expected, field service leaders who use a mobile field service software report close to 20% increase in service visits per technician. This translates to each technician taking nearly a fifth more calls in a day. And as we had said before, more service calls can double the profits. How can technicians get extra time from a field service mobile app?

  • No need to drive to work to pick orders
  • Less time using the phone looking for service or parts information
  • Reduces the time needed to go through paper-based work
  • Less time driving to service calls because information is routed to their mobile phones

Increase revenue from technicians

If time is spent seamlessly, dispatchers will find time in a technician?s schedule for an extra service call. With all this being done within normal working hours, the business stands to increase its bottom line. This is what makes the business grow. Not by increasing technicians but by optimum utilisation of the current staff to get maximum profit. The logic is straightforward ? a technician working 8 hours each day taking six calls a day will make more revenue than the one who takes four, because they are paid the same each, but the business benefits from the extra service calls.


The business stands to make more revenue per technician if it uses field service management software. The margins can go as high as 40% because the technician has all tools needed to get the job done faster. You increase revenue from field work too. Let technicians benefit from automated process and have all the tools for work that they need right on their mobile devices.

The target is always your bottom line

When field service leaders inquire about field service software, they need to know how it affect the bottom line: how they will spend less time drafting schedules, how each technician will increase revenue, how the business will grow. Simple as that!
Field service management applications bring a lot to the table. 

Don’t waste your time crunching a lot of numbers or sorting out schedules since this is what such an application should do. Automation, optimisation and mobility are all ways of increasing revenue. Let us help you reach your goals using our top shelf field management software. This will not only help your bottom line but will let you have more time to venture into untapped potentials.

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