Monday, April 13, 2009

Project team structure - The Vedic way

Whenever we look at any project, we invariably see the various teams taking the center-stage at various point in the project life cycle. Where do we get this team structure, is it part of modern project management parlance? No necessarily, as we delved into our Indian vedas, we found similar description in the context not so far away from our existing team structure requirements. Lets me share some more...

In our vedas, it has been documented that people are of three basic types - Gyanyoga, Rajayoga and Bhaktiyoga. The Gyanyogis are the ones inspired by intellect, Rajayogis are inspired by Leadership and strategy and the Bhaktiyoga people have complete faith in their masters and are inspired by their devotion.

The start of any new project stems out from an idea that is mulled over and over to give a proper shape and plan. This is done by the people who belong to Gyanyoga category, these are the innovators and intellectuals. In a modern project these will be people in the board of directors or the advisers.

The idea is then converted to execution plan and the team of people are entrusted with the execution within the overall vision and strategy of the project. These are the Rajyogis, we call them the managers in our modern projects.

The team of people that will do the actual execution of the project should have full faith in their managers and should be devoted to the work that is assigned to them. The managers manage their day to day work to evaluate to ensure that the overall objective of the project is met. These people are Bhaktiyogis, also called team members in modern project teams.

So you see our vedas can educate us in all aspects of our lives including the professional...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recession Blues - Companies, think twice and retain your employees...

The market is very turbulent and news of people getting laid off just does not seem to end, in fact the trend seem to be increasing. Pundits are saying that this is just the beginning and the gloom may last till 201o end. What should a company do if they do not have enough work for their employees? Should they feel themselves to be helpless and fire their people. For some companies it is an opportunity to 'cut the fat' and only retain the best talent that they have. Some have planned lay-offs and others are just doing it as knee jerk reaction to the market sentiments as the measure to cut cost. Is this the only option they have - the western model of hire and fire? We think this is not the right approach. After all it costs a lot of time, effort and money to train people - technology-wise, culture-wise and business-wise. Hence when the tide of recession turns, the company will need to go hammer & tongs to recruit people and reinvest time, effort and money to train the new recruits. Should there be some method to this madness and mayhem? We say yes, in such times companies need to be more sensitive to their employees, after all we are in India and companies should take this opportunity to truly treat their employees as family members. Here we propose a conceptual model to come out as a winner and leverage these hard times to imbibe our Indian cultural ethos in our companies and not just survive by firing people and cutting cost.

Numbers attached to this model:
1. Retain the employees with salary cut.
2. Find the differential between the amount saved if employees fired (A = All salary) vs. retaining employees with salary cut (C = Salary Cut). D = A-C.
3. Create of pool of such people and assign tasks with quantifiable results. (R = Worth of results).
4. We need to keep R >= D to make this work.

Variables affecting the model:
1. Resource pool count fluctuation
2. Unplanned entry and exit to the resource pool (temporary project assignment, resignations)
3. Other costs associated with the resources (seating cost etc.)
4. Top management support and commitment.
5. Measuring the results and converting it to quantifiable numbers

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gaps in Quality Processes in our daily lives

Once we know 'What' is to be done, 'How' becomes a very important aspect... rather THE IMPORTANT aspect... why I say this is because 'how' we do it decides the Quality of the 'what' we are doing.... Here 'what' may be anything... I mean 'ANYTHING'.... anything from the time I wake up to the time I hit the sack at the end of the day... it may be related to my brushing of teeth, eating my food, taking bath, driving to work to doing each and every task at my work place to.... And in Quality parlance, this 'How' is called 'Process'.... Hence 'Processes' are 'THE IMPORTANT' things in all aspects of our lives... Unfortunately we seldom realize this quality perspective consciously or even think about it, and this leads to what I term as "Quality By Chance"... Many a time this leads to poor quality in our daily lives - personal. professional and social... Many a times the immediate damage it causes might be minuscle but some times it is ever increasing if nothing is done about it, and may hurt us badly in long run. We typically try to adjust to these problems instead of finding solutions to them, at least not in the early stages.

Let's take a typical day of our life and see how following the quality processes or lack of it impacts on the overall quality of our lives. Starting early in the day our car-wash boys, there are about 350 cars in the compound and this group of 25 boys wash them everyday. They do not have any planned leaves and they just take off whenever there is a need or just like that. They can coordinate amongst themselves and take planned holidays and also the cleaning of cars will not get affected. Other part of it is that they all do washing individually to carry out every task, while this could be devided amongs them e.g. group1 can do the dusting, then group2 would do the wet-washing and then group3 will wipe and dry. This can happen, with a plan with parallel tasks and save on time and effort and also improve the quality of car washing.

The next task is at home, where set of 40 'Bais' (Housemaids) do the cleaning of around 300 flats. There work is highly unstructured and always tend to have some or other scheduling problem. Both, the employers and the 'bais' need to have better communication and structure to their tasks so that the work could be done more efficiently, at the right time and within allotted time.

After this we are ready to leave house for work, if we use our own transport (self-driven or driver), there are umpteen instance on our way where we get impatient (putting it mildly) and try to steal our right of way. This behavior is common across all section of drivers, literacy or financial standing not withstanding, nobody gives a second thought while blatantly not followingh the rules or processes set by the traffic authority. If we give way to others and follow the traffic rules, it may seem like that we are taking longer but it's overall effect would be saving us lot of time. I am sure this can be mathematically, scientifically and socially proven.

If we take autorickshaw, we will struggle to find the generous auto driver who would do ud the favor to take us in the direction where we want to go. If we are not lucky, we could be hunting for the ellusive auto for long time. I know there is an RTO rule that the autorickshaws need to ferry the pasengers whereever they demand to go but I also understand that it is not possible all the time. The simple solution to this could be that every auto carry a small sign of the route they are interested in goin towards. This will avoid the unnecessary haggling with the auto drivers and make our lived easier and less stressed.