1 buffer management
Project Management

How to deliver a software product in the most flexible way?

date: 10 February 2020
reading time: 5 min

Adding buffers to a project is critical in terms of flexible delivery. This pertains to the amount of time that you schedule, as well as the people that you work with. Time-based buffers allow you to meet deadlines, even in the event of an emergency.

People-based buffers, on the other hand, provide you with lots of additional leeways when it comes to creating new teams, or when you have to swiftly scale an existing one up or down.

This is the sort of buffer I want to focus on below, as it is one of the main concepts that help our organisation work in a very efficient way. So, how do we apply this in Future Processing? Let’s take a glimpse.

Managing buffers: people

In Future Processing, we’ve developed our own way of managing people-based buffers, which is not only beneficial to the projects that we work on, but also our organisation as a whole. From onboarding new employees to developing products for our clients – our system of buffers work well in many different areas.

The bench

We have a so-called bench – a group of people who are skilled in various technologies that are useful for our clients. They are ready to join and support teams that already exist or create totally new ones. Buffer leaders know exactly who is skilled in a given area, and they cooperate closely with project managers whenever they need to assemble teams or have to find a replacement or an extra specialist.

Management solutions

The bench, of course, has to be skilfully managed, in order to maximise its potential. So, whenever the buffers are not working on any particular projects for our clients – they are busy learning new skills and gaining priceless experience by helping develop our internal products. These kinds of products are often used to improve the overall performance of our company. Other times, they also serve our clients, such as, for example, the development of a tool that accelerates the process of reporting the number of working hours.

Newcomers who are just beginning their careers in Future Processing are mainly involved in buffer projects, in order to help make their onboarding process a smoother one with less stress. This is where they can learn more about our work culture and gain experience in a safer, less risky environment.

The virtual buffer

We also have virtual buffers – specialists who are full-fledged team members and who, from the team perspective, function in their roles just like everyone else. The one and only difference between our virtual buffers and our regular team members is in the management model between our company and the client. Namely, we guarantee our customers a stable flat rate, so when the whole team is working normally, we don’t charge for any work done by a virtual buffer. However, if someone is absent due to vacation or sick leave, we charge for the substitute buffer.

A virtual buffer is also ready to work as a replacement specialist, in case someone leaves the team for good. The buffer is not only available but also already well-familiarized with the project. He or she doesn’t require any further training or introductions and is able to function straight away as a non-buffer team member. This gives us peace of mind because, in this situation, we only need to find someone to cover the role of the virtual buffer, which the client doesn’t pay for.

Top 4 benefits of having people-based buffers

Having people-based buffers is something that we find useful on a daily basis – it’s a vital part of our company to the benefit of everyone involved, including the clients and the organisation itself.

  • It creates additional value for the clients
    Our clients may rest easy knowing that we have significant buffers in place, in case of emergency, which reduces the risk in the product development process. They can also use this as a card to strengthen their credibility in front of their stakeholders and investors, to assure them that everything will be delivered on time.

  • It provides a high level of stability
    Having people-based buffers allow us to operate without greater distractions. And when the development process is stable, everyone feels more secure and confident.

  • It ensures flexibility
    Thanks to the bench and the virtual buffers, we can react to anything with a high level of flexibility, such as when any modifications or reshuffling has to be done, or if an unexpected situation occurs.

  • It is a good way to improve and broaden skill sets and competencies
    Buffer members who work on our internal projects are constantly learning new skills, which also gives the company a competitive edge. Plus, they are always developing products and features that are valuable to our organisation, making their work very meaningful.

In other words, the buffer of people is our safety valve, our learning sector and our department of improvement – and it’s hard to imagine how we could function effectively without them.

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