Experts today are coming up with various approaches towards project management and execution, which are strongly based on the customer’s response to the product. The ideas of ‘agile’ and ‘lean’ come from the same need and philosophical point of view. While, both are quite different from each other principally, and difficult to deploy – they can be implemented to achieve better outcomes in manufacturing, automobile, aviation, and IT domains.
On viewing the progress in the above areas and success of large enterprises, our team came up with the proposal of fabricating a framework using these methodologies, and a mini-scale implementation of the same in government enterprise. Yes, you read it correctly “Agile & Lean in Government Enterprises”. When we declared this thought of ours, many six-sigma lean practitioners and scholars came up with queries on -Why government? Well, the answer to this question is simple. Ask yourself, which aspect of your life is not linked to the government? Whether it is poor electric supply or low maintenance, raising prices of commodities or the unemployment, the finger is somehow pointed towards the government. Thus, there is a need to adapt a good methodology to improve its performance, as this is going to affect the whole nation.
Some of the other challenges that are expected to be encountered in any Govt. Department, while trying to implement any such methodologies, are:
- The venality at different levels that influences the place of the work
- The intervention of higher officials makes it puzzling to go with the sole objective
- The projects are in focus of media, which is the main reason that arises questions
- Targeted by many political workers, groups in order to make most out of it
- The implementation has to face huge delays as everything need to be consulted with the authorities, and wait for their reply
You must have heard about agile and lean implementation in many different industries, but directing this concept towards the government departments and officials, as a framework is something that is completely novel. Six Sigma Lean methodology is something that is already been applied in the some of the government departments, at various parts of the world, but hybridizing it with agile is what makes it unique. So you are going to be a spectator of this completely innovative scheme, and what it brings to the table.
This idea is linked with many opportunities to bring an improvement in the current system of government, leading to a far better state with enhancement in every department. However, with this comes great challenges, meaning that this won’t be a piece of cake. One of the hardest things about this is that the government is not one organization, but a sum of many different organizations working under different rules and regulations. So, there needs to be a different set of principles that are needed to be applied to this. For this reason, we can work on only one department at a time and now we have to choose that one department for our framework as an assignment.
Negotiations led us towards construction (Building, Road, Bridge, Metro, Airport, Stadium), as this was the only sector where already many of the lean principles have been introduced. Adding a little charm of agile into it, can give us a healthier strategy. Although this methodology is open to all the fields under the term from railways, airports, roads and so on, the idea behind choosing construction was that, it was already stacked with different approaches related to agile and lean.
But, is construction worth investing in? To know this, we have designed a set of questions which can help us evaluate the feasibility of this entire framework. The framework to be declared successful, when it meets all the criteria which includes:
- The project is completed within the budget
- It is completed within the given time frame
- Sustainable positive results are attained
To accomplish the goal we decided to apply lean six sigma methodology with some amount of tailoring, as they are helpful in attaining a good progress for different projects. Lean can help in adding worth and increase the outcome of the project, while eliminating the waste.
The objective is to eliminate them so the outcome can be enhanced. One possible way to do so is by using a different approach. By this, you can say that the language that can persuade officials and look into the better side of the coin. Like using the word “cost cutting” for lean and “better outcome” for agile. This is the easiest way how you can reduce a bit of political influence from it.
If you see the previous statistics of the evolution of construction worldwide, then it becomes completely evident that this is the sector which needs immediate attention, in terms of improvement in almost all aspects. The worldwide figures from the year 2014-2015 show that there are almost 80% projects that were over budget, and 60% were those who ended up with poor quality. This doesn’t end here, as 90% of them did not even meet the deadline. This shows the faults in the construction sector management. In addition, few more shocking statistics collected from different reliable sources for all types of constructions are quoted for reference:
- More than 20% waste in any type of construction
- In more than 30% of the construction projects, major to medium severity defects detected within 5 to 10 years of construction
- More than 15% of the construction projects have very serious, life threatening defects within a span of 10 to 15 years
- More than 20% of the constructions life expectancy is 10 to 15 years lesser than it was projected at the time of construction
- In a country like India, more than 1500 calamities happen and more than 14,000 people die every year due to accidents from defective constructions
- More than 7% of the constructions get demolished and rebuilt completely every year
To avoid such challenges, we have accommodated a pre-construction quality and testing section in the framework. The aim is to test every material or instrument before using it, so that there is no damaged piece used. Besides this, everything is analyzed and if any problem or hurdle is seen, then the task to be started over again at very early stage.
That is why after starting the work, we have to remain flexible towards any editing or modification that needs to be done in each rise, on the path of accomplishing the goal. Of course, those cannot be entertained at a later stage. For this, there needs to be good collaboration and communication with the team. This can be attained by calling up a postmortem meeting which is similar to a retrospective after moving a little ahead in the work. The goal is to assess things that went well, and that need to be amended. There are couple more tailored agile techniques that gave us upper hand to tackle very specific scenarios pertaining to construction in our framework. In this way, a better and closer to the perfect project can be achieved that can satisfy all the needs.
As mentioned before, a similar approach can be applied to different government departments (and not only in construction). This can help them improve and come up with things that can fulfill all the needs of the consumer, in this case, citizens.
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