In many workplaces there will be several different projects going on at the same time. Whether this is creating a variety of different products, or working on services for multiple different customers, it can quickly get confusing and overwhelming. What makes it so hard is that in many cases, each project will be using multiple different people to get it done. These individuals are not assigned exclusively to a single project, so their time has to be shared and scheduled for all of them to ensure everything gets done properly.
One of the best ways to manage this type of situation is with a visual management board. This lean tool can be used for a wide range of different things and adapted to meet the specific needs of any facility. It can be a physical whiteboard that is displayed in a public area that everyone can see, or it can be a digital tool that is accessed by individuals on the computer. However, if is implemented, it must be regularly updated and kept current in order to be effective.
What is a Visual Management Board?
A visual management board (see Figure 1) is used to help allocate resources (most often, human resources) to different jobs over a given period of time. This helps to ensure that each project is given the required attention needed to be completed on time, and without any issues. It also helps to provide direction to employees on what things they should be working on at what time.
For example, if a company has five different projects that are being worked on, they will be listed on the side of the board, like a key or legend on a map. At the top of the board are dates that go out a set amount of time. Each facility will determine what length of time works best for them. Down the side of the board will be the names of the resources that are involved with the projects.
When a project manager or other leader needs a specific person to perform some activity for their project, they will look at their row on the board, and find a time that they are free. They can then add in the project name in the area where the resource’s name and the available date intersect. This is similar to a spreadsheet in this way.
Adding Additional Information
The above example is an extremely simple sample of how these boards can work. In most cases, additional information will need to be provided as well, and that can be worked in quite easily. One common tactic is to use different color writing to indicate specific information. If a project has fallen behind schedule, for example, it could be written in red. Profit driving projects may be written in green. Each facility will come up with their own way of color coding their visual management board.
The Benefits of using a Visual Management Board
There are many benefits that a facility will enjoy when they begin using a visual management board. The following are a few of the most common advantages:
- Improved Organization – With all the information and scheduling centralized in one place, it is much more organized and easy to access.
- Improved Standardization – Having a central management board will standardize how different resources are used and scheduled.
- Reduced Conflict – There won’t be scheduling conflicts over the resources needed for different projects. Everyone will fill out the board with when they have resources scheduled, and other groups can work around with these needs.
- Reduced Time Wasted on Scheduling – One major benefit to the resources themselves is that they won’t have to waste their time scheduling which projects they are working on. Rather than project managers approaching the resources to see when they are available, they will simply consult the visual management board to do all their scheduling.