The Organizing Network
NumbCrunch is a high-tech company that pioneers innovative solutions for rapid analysis, optimization, and assurance of system of systems and processes to a variety of government and commercial customers. One of their core capabilities is data analysis. NumbCrunch has a strong quality focus and joined the US Air Force mentor-protege program to bootstrap their quality improvement efforts.
Given their data analysis capabilities NumbCrunch’s executive management established the goal of quantitatively manage their process performance within 18 months mandated by the mentor-protege program. To achieve this goal, NumbCrunch hired two consultants, one to help implement and track their project management and engineering improvements efforts and the other, PPQC, to help implement and track their quantitative management efforts. However, the PPQC support did not start until the deadline was only 12 months away
This approach would have worked, but the internal NumbCrunch person responsible for planning and managing the effort was not up to the task. He did not delegate responsibility for the necessary tasks and activities; he basically tried to do everything himself. After three months it became obvious to the NumbCrunch executive management that there was a problem. The deadline for completing their activities for the mentor-protege program was now 9 months away and there was no progress. The mentor-protege program funds a business’ process improvement efforts, and the major risk now was that NumbCrunch would have to refund the funds to the Air Force, which was a non-trivial amount. NumbCrunch’s executive management fired the person in charge, replacing him with someone who was more capable and able to plan and manage the work.
At the start of my involvement I facilitated a workshop to empower the NumbCrunch team with the knowledge and skills to quantitatively analyze their process performance, look for the statistical stability in their data, build meaningful process performance baselines, and build predictive models that could be used to statistically predict the achievement of NumbCrunch’s project and organizational goals. Building this internal capability takes a good deal of time for analyzing the historical data and then using the analysis results to quantitatively manage new work.
Meeting the deadline that was twelve months away was achievable, but a risky stretch goal. I initially kept at an arms length and monitored their weekly progress, which was rapidly going nowhere. After the three month loss due to the wrong person managing the effort caused NumbCrunch to restart their implementation. In order to mitigate this problem, I mentored them by conducting a series of document reviews to evaluate their quantitative analysis and providing recommendations on how to move forward as rapidly as possible.
Because of issues with the data analysis and the delay in providing useful quantitative tools for the project managers to use, it was clear that NumbCrunch would not meet the mentor-protege deadline. I recommended to NumbCrunch’s executive management that they explain the situation to the Air Force, report the progress they were making, and ask for a six month extension, which the Air Force granted.
Through additional reviews and mentoring during the remaining six months and the six month extension, I empowered NumbCrunch to overcome these challenges and successfully meet the mentor-protege deadline and requirements.
As a result over this time period NumbCrunch experienced a 55% reduction in the number of software defects injected during product development, as well as a 30% reduction in schedule overruns.
The bottom line result is that over the 18 months I was engaged with NumbCrunch, they achieved an overall cost savings of $1 million.
NOTE: Due to confidentially agreements, I am not able to publicly disclose company names, etc. The names have been changed to mask any confidential information.
About the Author
Henry Schneider/EmpowerMentor is the owner and principal consultant for PPQC, an elite, highly specialized consulting company that rapidly delivers analysis and tailors solutions to empower and mentor organization to turnaround their business and achieve their business goals.