Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Post-Its and Papered Walls

I completed a 3 day planning workshop for a major, complex project we're about to launch at our factory. Wow. By the time we had finished, the pristine white sheets of paper that we had stuck over the walls and windows of our room had become littered with coloured post-it notes and kokie lines. I now view post it notes, markers and white sheets of paper stuck on walls in a whole new light.

I know a lot of people (especially a few of my girl friends) love to use post-its to place in their diaries, on their fridges and as quick thank you notes to friends. I've come to see this as a conventional use of post-its. 

This week, myself and the guys (yes, all the rest of the team were guys) spent time classifying and writing big tasks on post-its, then breaking up the big tasks into smaller tasks and writing them on post-its. Then breaking those tasks into smaller tasks on post-its. Each post-it had the task, name of person responsible, company, estimated duration and set of 3 or 4 filter "tags" written on it.

Hard at work writing post it notes
Then all the post-its were ordered according to logical sequences and processes and a temporary pencil line was added in to show the link between tasks. Each post it and all the accompanying information was then captured on to the computer as part of a database. During capturing, each note was given a corresponding number (according to the database number on the computer) and a red dot, to indicate it had been captured on the computer. Notes with a blue dot were used to indicate a delivery of something. Then processes were linked, and during this time, a blue line was drawn indicating links between the different tasks. By the end of our 3 day period, we had something looking like the below image and an ultra complicated project breakdown.

Discussing process and logic sequences

Part of our final project plan according to post-its

I've never been part of a big project planning session and this was an extremely enlightening exposure to an amazing project planning technique and tool. For the new people (like myself), our facilitator's aim was to ensure that we understood the project planning process so that going forward, we can facilitate other project planning sessions. I'm sure that I will be able to use this tool going forward, as it's applicable to all projects, not only engineering ones. However, this is only the beginning and our facilitator will have regular check-in sessions with us to track our progress and I'm sure there's still a lot to learn from him about the project planning process.

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