Project Management Practices, and how we do it at Coviam

When it comes down to the process to manage any project – in very simple terminology – it can be widely categorized into either a push process or a pull one. A push process is the one that is fully planned beforehand, whereas the pull process is the one that is more demand driven.

Let me explain this with an example – and one with that of a manufacturing unit (even though I don’t prefer such examples myself). In a Push process, there is a plan or a blueprint that tells you how the manufacturing should go about. Based on a forecast of demand in the market, the raw materials required to manufacture the product is acquired and pushed through the whole cycle.

Coming to the Pull process, the example would be that of a manufacturing unit which prepares customized furniture for its customers. There is a loosely defined process, which can be implemented at the time of need. But the execution actually begins only when there is a demand for it.

Now, applying the same principle, the Project Management that happens in Coviam (and pretty much all Agile companies) is mostly the Push Process – Scrum, in particular. You know what the demand or the requirements are (from backlog grooming & sprint planning), you know when you need to deliver the unit (at the end of the Sprint), and you have the resources to get the plan to the stage of execution, and finally to delivery.

There is also the lesser known Pull Process that very few teams in Coviam use. Kanban – which is similar to a Pull process. There is a bucket in which all the new demands/requirements go to. The team then decides who needs to address this and start the execution of steps in order to deliver it to the customer.

Yes, all Agile processes are mostly adaptive to customer demands, and you can say that Scrum too is a way of adapting to the needs of the end users, I agree. But a Kanban is totally reactive to the demand/requirement. (The idea actually originated from an automotive assembly line which used cards to demand an action against the requirement.)

What I would like to finally infer is that, it all depends on the type of delivery that the teams do and fine-tuning the process so that they are in their optimum best form. Figuring out that sweet spot, and maintaining the team there with just the right process in place – well, isn’t that what Project Management is all about?

-Harshitha Shankar

Also published on Medium.