Is Your Project Agile, a Scrum or a Kanban?

Few projects pan out the way we expect when starting out. This is normal in any creative planning phase. We half suspect the ones that follow a straight line are the exceptions to the rule. Urban legend has it; Edison made a thousand prototypes before his first bulb lit up, and then went on to comment, ?genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration?. Later, he added that many of life’s failures are people who did not realise just how close they were to success when they gave up.

So be it to this day, and so be it with project planning too. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to it. Agile, Scrum and Kanban each have their supporters and places where they do well. Project planning often works best when we use a sequential combination of them, appropriate to what is currently happening on the ground.

Of the three, Agile is by far the most comprehensive. It provides a structure that begins with project vision / conceptualisation, and goes as far as celebration when the job is over, and retrospective discussion afterwards. However, the emphasis on daily planning meetings may dent freethinking, and even smother it.

Scrum on the other hand says ?forget all that bureaucracy?. There is a job to do and today is the day we are going to do it. Although the core Agile teamwork is still there it ignores macro project planning, and could not be bothered with staying in touch with customers. If using Scrum, it is best to give those jobs to someone else.

The joker in the pack is Kanban, It believes that rules are there to substitute for thought, and that true progress only comes from responsible freedom. It belongs in mature organisations that have passed through Scrum and Agile phases and have embarked on a voyage towards perfection.

That said, there can be no substitute for human leadership, especially when defined as the social influence that binds the efforts of others towards a single task.

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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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What is Servitisation?

In the current generation, innovation has transformed industries, businesses, economies, and livelihoods. Those who’ve accepted to embrace the changes have prospered and remained afloat and relevant in their respective industries.?

However, failure to embrace change has seen companies like Blockbuster pushed out of business by more innovative and technology-oriented companies like Netflix.?

What does this tell you?

That the only way to stay in business, despite the many challenges your business could be facing, is to remain alert to the dynamic demands of customers, many of which are dictated by technological advancements.?

So, if you’re a manufacturer and you’re keen on diving deeper into technology to stay on top of the game and beat your competition, you must also be expectant of the fast-approaching servitisation-centred economy. Companies like Rolls Royce that have already embraced servitisation are making great gains in their areas of expertise.?

What is Servitisation?

Servitisation can be defined as the transformation of a manufacturing firm from the mere offering of products to the market to providing innovative and invaluable services alongside their products. By so doing, the sale becomes an ongoing engagement and not a one-off event. Cranfield University professors call it “the innovation of an organisation’s capabilities and processes to better create mutual value through a shift from selling a product to selling product-service systems.”?

As foreign as it may seem for some professionals, servitisation has been a need that, though not embraced, its demand remains evident. Nonetheless, firms have hesitated to implement it. Shifting from manufacturing products only to incorporating product-centric services alongside the products is not a walk in the park. It boils down to completely changing the company’s entire structure and processes.

All the same, change is never comfortable, and that’s why it’s always best to focus on the positive for motivation.

Servitisation Case Study

Some manufacturing firms have already embraced servitisation, and they’re reaping big from it. They’ve understood the benefits of offering more value to customers at less cost. What Rolls Royce is doing currently with its “power-by-the-hour” program is a good example of servitisation.

Instead of selling Aero Engines and letting customers take charge of maintenance and uptime, Rolls-Royce now offers a full package that includes a product and relevant services.?

Essentially, what the company is creating is an intimate and long-term relationship with its customers.

The total care package by Rolls Royce means it’s essentially renting out its engines to customers and monitoring data for potential maintenance needs. The plan guarantees that maintenance is only done when necessary and avoidable damage detected in good time. As a result, there is a clear reduction in the overall cost.

Initially, Rolls Royce would make money by basically selling and repairing engines. That meant that the worse the engines, the more repairs required and the more the money the company would make.?

However, things changed when the company realised there is no demand for a product that’s constantly in the repair shop. That prompted Rolls Royce to embrace servitisation.

Servitisation aligns the interests of the customer and those of the manufacturer to ensure everyone benefits. Rolls Royce has been offering this package to airlines since 2010, and the company has seen significant returns as a result.

Benefits

There are several benefits of incorporating servitisation into your manufacturing firm. Below are three of the strongest benefits

  • Financial Stability– Servitisation establishes a more secure revenue stream because of the long term connection between manufacturer and customer. This also translates to loyal customers, meaning more profit.
  • Strong Customer Retention Rate– Being more experienced about the equipment and the constant tracking and monitoring that comes with servitisation; manufacturers are realising that they can keep more customers.
  • Selling a Solution And a Product– Today customers are not just looking to buy a product, instead, they want both the product and the solution to their problem. Meaning you make more money for the product you manufacture and the service you offer to your customers.

Implementation of Servitisation in the Industry

To effectively implement servitisation, there must be an effective two-way flow of information and data in the supply chain. Meaning you may require software like FieldElite for scalable condition monitoring of performance. With FieldElite, for example, servitisation is made easier for you because it enables you to monitor the performance of your assets remotely.

Maintenance and monitoring of assets were traditionally very expensive and time-consuming until the arrival of intelligent software that makes work easier and cost-effective for manufacturers. FieldElite uses advanced learning algorithms to remotely automate the entire process, allowing you to detect, in real-time, the performance and need for maintenance on your asset.

Required Organisational Changes

A few important steps include;

Companies that invest in continuous training and development always have a more competitive edge than their counterparts. Meaning an important step towards servitisation is training the workforce. This is important, considering that the company structure, focus, and process will have to change.

Set up a team that is focused on the challenge, change, and creation. With this, you can easily adjust to industry changes. The team should always work on knowing what should be adjusted and when it should be.?

In the shift to servitisation, adopting a comprehensive service technology is an important step. Such service technology software includes FieldElite. This technology will ensure that you’re able to monitor your product in real-time, meaning you can maintain good performance for as long as possible.

Because servitisation essentially focuses on the customer, take time to study customer behaviour. Knowing what your customers need and want will help you remain relevant in the industry.

Conclusion

As the demand for more benefits and long-lasting relationships with dealers grow, so is the need for manufacturers to adjust. Hence more and more manufacturing companies are leaning towards embracing servitisation as a solution to the growing demand.?

In turn, manufacturers who’re attaching service contracts to their product sales are making more than those who remain stuck in the traditional approach to sales.?

Essentially, servitisation will ensure that, as a manufacturer, you remain relevant to your customers now and in years to come. This is a much better arrangement in terms of saving costs and making more returns. Remember to be successful, you have to be flexible enough to change with demand.

Green Business!

Carbon emissions reduction has evolved beyond simply good citizenship to being a business tool. Implementing ?green? initiatives is now a competitive weapon which defines real business opportunities and bottom line savings that can contribute significant financial value to the organisation while meeting demanding customer requirements for sustainable and low-carbon products.

Energy efficiency is a low cost resource for achieving carbon emissions reduction. Better energy efficiency simply translates to lesser carbon emissions and less energy usage which translates into saved costs.

Reduction of an organisations carbon footprint is each and everyone?s responsibility. Human activities are the key responsibility for the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. These include usage of electricity generated from fossil fuel, heating or driving.

At the corporate level, various measures can be instigated to increase energy efficiency. Some of these can be, having zone lighting with sensors to minimise unnecessary office lighting, timers on large IT equipment, promoting energy efficient behaviour in the office, asking staff to switch off and unplug appliances when not in use and minimising staff travel.
At the individual level; it is the small habits that count; cultivating the habit of switching off unnecessary lights, plugging out appliances that are not in use, using video conferencing or online chatting instead of having to travel to meetings, using public transport instead of taking a taxi/ personal car and using energy efficient cars.

All these initiatives assist organisations in their corporate social responsibility reports and play a role in sustainability rankings which is instrumental to customers who are increasingly considering sustainability rankings in investment decisions, while achieving the goal of cost reduction internally.

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