What is Project Acceleration Technologies (PAT)?
At Intel Corporation in the early 1990s there was frustration with project delays. Teams scrambled to try and recover. Tensions were high. Recovery efforts, in many cases, made things worse. By trying to recover the late items, without getting relief from the original dates, other items became late and the overall project fell farther behind schedule.
Faced with this quandary, a new approach based on commitments was developed. While not totally an Intel original (some of the concepts had been used in the Polaris Missile System Program in the 1990s) Intel took it to a new and refined level. Teams that implemented this approach not only made their schedules but were able to deliver more 30% faster!
Documented by Timm Esque in his book No Surprises Project Management: A Proven Early Warning System for Staying on Trackthis approach is being used at other organizations such as Symantec, Applied Materials, Freescale, Papyrus, Marvel, and others. Recently, some of the tools described in Mr. Esque’s book have been automated (see more information below).
In PAT the teams develop schedules focusing on deliverables, not tasks. Owners of deliverables commit to a date that they develop. While top-down dates are received and tracked, they are not the committed dates unless the teams feel they are feasible. The team commits to what they know they can deliver and experience shows that teams make a higher percentage of dates they commit to than dates that are dictated to them.
“Map Days” are used to develop the schedules. The entire team, when possible, gets together in a room to build the schedule. The “customer” or customer representative starts by describing what they need by when. The customer starts from the end point to build a logical set of deliverables they need by when. They also indicate what deliverables they will deliver to the “supplier” teams and by when.
With this information and prior homework the supplier teams present their own deliverables. Starting from today and moving forward, they list what deliverables they will deliver and by when as well as what deliverables they need, from whom, and by when.
These discussions clarify everyone’s understanding on what each deliverable consists of as well as bring to light any differences in dates between the supplier and the customer that may lead to issues. The objective is to negotiate dates that are acceptable to all before commitments are finalized.
These deliverables are “plotted” on the wall and transferred to an Excel matrix used to track progress. A highly automated matrix, this tool automatically identifies deliverables that are due soon, deliverables that are late, as well as disconnects between commit dates and need by dates. In addition, it plots a Performance Against Commitments (PAC) chart that quickly tells the team and management how they are doing.
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