I'm working in a private technological center, performing only R&D projects for industrial clients and institutions... I'm looking at applying Agile methods to our activities. From all my readings, I'm looking towards scrumban.
But I have doubts about its applicability and how to set this up. We have NO experience on Agile. All is based on project managers experience, PMP or intuition...
So to sum-up, I think that my main doubts are related to: - team size for scrumban to be manageable - issue of resources allocated to multiple projects at the same time (and we can't do it in other ways due to the nature of our activities) - issue of resources required for my project but managed in a different sub-team.
So first let me give you context, and then ask concrete questions:
I'm working in a business unit of about 50 people. We have about 150 ongoing projects. minimum project time 6 months, maximum 4 years. Projects have their uncontrollable lifecycle with intensive sprints followed by lengthy dead time due to delay in the clients feedback, waiting for purchased components, or just fixed long timeframe but at low intensity. We are of many different specialties, so some tasks can only be performed by one person. Executing only R&D contracts we have LOTS of uncertainties and risks and almost no repeatability between two projects. But since we are a private company, we need to ship results to our clients on time, within the fixed budget and with adequate quality... All the projects (mainly related to robotics, machine tools, and factory automation) require many profiles to collaborate at different stages: conceptual design; architecture design, prototyping, testing, redesign, software, electronics, mechanics etc... All this is coordinated by project managers and our head of Operations performs a monthly resources (person hour) allocation based on a project/person matrix.
I'm leading a sub-team, targeting a specific market segment, but we are not autonomous and independent (robotics requires a tight integration of software, mechatronics and hardware integration). So we always need to interact with the other sub-teams, get tasks executed by the mechanical engineers etc...
So my questions are: 1. How can I plan my delivery date and budget in the commercial offers if later on we're using an Agile method, tending to Pull processes...
Related to question 1, how can I maintain a Gantt or any other system to estimate delivery date when using kanban or scrumban??? Are both compatibles? I'm feeling that switching to iterative and lean processes will improve our efficiency and resource allocation efficiency, but that we will lose on predictability (on the other hand, I've never seen a Gantt plan correctly executed on time ;-) ). Is this true?
On what team should I deploy the scumban: on the 50 people?? Hardly manageable, no? But if I do it on my 12 people sub-team, it will not be complete since I need engineers from the other sub-group to work on my projects...? So I would need to "add cards" on the other team backlog and try to fight to get them with high priority...? So what's the adequate team size? And to manage interactions between teams??
Related to question3: how should I manage the multi-projects aspects? I mean: should I try to impose scrumban at project level, or a team level? I fear that project level is not ok, since the resources in my project are also allocated to other projects and I have NO visibility on their current load and task priorities and emergencies... But at the 50 person group level, I fear that it will not be manageable, unless we perform micro-management up to the very fine tasks, with the associated management overhead... and headaches!
I hope I transmitted well our situation, that I understand as quite complex, but found in so many other companies...
Thanks in advance for sharing your opinions and advice on how/if we should deploy Agile processes in our business unit (preferably scrumban I believe)!