By Mike Alfoni, Project Manager Rebuilding Center

Starting last summer the warehouse team with the support of Lean Portland started developing a project management and decision-making process for how things “get done” around here.  We were faced with too much to do and unclear communications about priorities and expectations. So we took the lead from Lean Portland and moved ahead with a basic project tracking board for the warehouse.

The goals here are to create a fast system that allows for us to visually see and review the projects going on in the warehouse and in specific areas.  As we have a lot going on and limited staff, this will allow us to focus on no more than 2-3 things per staff in the warehouse outside of daily tasks, and also help us prioritize what moves into workflow next.

To achieve faster turnaround on change, to ensure change or projects stick/are completed, and to generally reduce stress and empower people to manage their work, we are planning on being rigid about doing only the things on this board and then to also only be working on the top 3 listed. No more!

We have a basic system (in the middle) for judging impact vs. cost, and so if something “feels” like it “must” be a priority now, we have a tool for figuring out if we complete the existing projects on the board… or move it off and move the new item on.  At least it is something to get the capacity management conversation started. This is a customized tool based on the PICK chart named the “Priorotizer 5,000”(!!).

We use this as a tool during warehouse meetings to help let people know what is going on. Staff can get to know it easily. Eventually, we envision this tying in directly to goals, metrics, in-warehouse tools to better manage projects and the day-to-day, but we’re starting here – to focus on one step at a time.