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Entroids is not project management or Agile (Scrum) tool. Project management, simply put, is managing tasks and collaboration to achieve a predefined end goal. Agile is story board to software. But in most new product developments you operate in high risk and uncertainty where the story and end goals are not clearly defined. Entroids is ideally suited for these projects which are typically engineering & technology related .It embraces that change is inevitable and that good teams need visual dashboards to quickly communicate priorities and have built-in smarts for high performance teams.
Gantt charts work great in some projects like civil construction and smaller task oriented projects. There are tools like MS project and Primevera that are used in construction industry. These tools specialize in managing tasks, resources (man & machine) and critical path analysis etc. On the other end of the spectrum, task management is useful in planning simple projects like organizing an event or finishing the basement etc. In either case, the end goal is not in flux.
In NPD, change is the norm, you are experimenting the business model, validating assumptions, mitigating risks etc. in a dynamic environment. If you tried to maintain all the activity in Gantt charts it is a chore just to maintain. You will find yourself working on the Gantt rather than it working for you.
THINK-PLAN-DO framework will reduce the cognitive load of managing execution in a volatile environment, so that the product manager is not a project sitter any more. You will spend less time planning, improve team communication and help team members become more accountable. The framework has three tiers – the top tier has four tools for identifying your Strategic Needs. The second tier is the Planned Major tasks required for each ‘Need’ in the top tier. The bottom tier is ‘DOing’ what needs to be done “now” in order to advance the planned tasks. By splitting execution into three tiers, you ensure all important needs are identified and nothing slips through the cracks. Planning only the major tasks reduces the number of tasks in the Gantt. All other small tasks should become activities (Actions), like sub tasks of the major task but there is no need to plan them ahead of time in the Gantt. This way it becomes very easy to make adjustments and eliminate waste. There is a small learning curve associated with the framework, but most users get it in less than 15 minutes after which, they love the simplicity and power of the tool.
We believe the 4 pillars of execution in NPD are business model, risks, requirements, and milestones. These would allow the NPD teams to be clear on the most important strategic needs which are to key to achive success. If you have thoughts on this, please contact us at email@example.com
Project management is for managing tasks when the end goal/deliverable is fixed, like a construction project or building a static web application. Entroids Product development tool is for managing execution when the end goal is uncertain and business model / product specification is in flux. See related questions 2 and 3 above.
You can have unlimited projects and any number of team members in a team. But most effective teams are small – under 10 people. We recommend that you only include the core team and have everybody use the tool regularly to realize the full potential of Entroids.
We love to help startups and entrepreneurial college programs. However, we need you to be totally committed to your project and Entroids. Please contact us with your request and show your commitment by send a request email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Entroids works very well with frameworks like Lean Startup and Stage Gate. Stage gate is an idea to launch system that helps you define milestones (known as Gates) at which you evaluate progress, risks and make an assessment if the project can proceed to the next stage. Between the Gates, the product manager manages execution his own way. We have seen that most commonly used tool in Stage Gate process is excel and power point. Entroids will be a great complimentary tool for use with Stage Gate. Entroids is not the methodology but the framework to execute any methodology. Entroids works with any product development system like Lean Startup, Stage Gate or PACE.
The THINK-PLAN-DO framework is not complicated. Most users understand it in less than 15 minutes. The framework is very simple and yet powerful. But if you sign up expecting a Gantt chart or task manager, you might be surprised because THINK-PLAN-DO framework is very different. But, this is more from the unexpectedness rather than complexity, once you get over the surprise and apply yourself to understanding the three tiers of execution you will experience the power of simplification and reducing cognitive load. Hence, it is best to educate yourself of the THINK-PLAN-DO framework. There is a “how it works” tutorial in the help menu in the navigation bar to start with. Also you could read our blog post on the THINK-PLAN-DO framework for New Product Development by clicking here [http://blog.entroids.com/how-to-make-your-startup-execution-agile-and-lean/] [Ashish: insert this webpage link as hyper link on the word “clicking here”.
t.Strategic Need is the short hand for “THINK Strategic Needs”, p.Task stands for “PLANNED Major Tasks” and d.Activity stands for” DO Current Activites.”
The Planned major tasks are limited to a min. 4 weeks length as a forcing function to prevent small and trivial tasks. Are you wondering why? Please trust the philosophy and you can thank me later
The philosophy is to reduce your cognitive load at every tier. The PLANNED major tasks are meant to be only substantial tasks – these are complicated and large endeavors that can be broken down to many smaller steps. You should have only about 2-3 Major PLANNED tasks for each Strategic Need. As you create the major tasks, always ponder for second if you can broaden its definition to include more related activities – use generalization and grouping techniques to make them encompassing and substantially important major tasks. The goal is to have fewer but substantial Major Tasks for each Strategic Need. If you create many tasks for an item, in your next team meeting, see how you can combine them or generalize them. After a while it becomes your second nature.
There are four tools for Strategic Needs, each tool will have several items and each of those will have Major Tasks planned. Now you can see how the number of tasks can multiply and become a spaghetti mess.
The best practice for creating the major PLANNED tasks on Entroids are;
- Major tasks should represent complex and large endeavors
- Use the tactic of grouping and generalizing to create large tasks
- In the details field of the task, list all the actions required to accomplish the task
The nature of the word “Current” implies you have to get these done now .These are the nugget sized actions that are required to keep the major task moving towards completion. We recommend that you list all the nugget sized actions required to fulfill the task in “Details” field and pull them as a current activity when required.
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