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How a Chemical Company Improved its R&D Projects Performance



SCHLENK is an internationally successful family enterprise and one of the leading manufacturers of metal powders, pigments, and foils. To achieve sustainable results in a competitive market, back in 2015, they started exploring new ways to effectively manage and execute projects and to strengthen the business processes.

The Journey to Project Agility

Looking for ways to improve cross-team coordination, increase project transparency, and unlock optimization potentials, they stumbled upon the Kanban method. Praised for the results it delivers in the software world, SCHLENK identified it as an effective way to connect all project stakeholders and create an efficient workflow in their future projects. 

Next, they started looking for a tool that would help them achieve a high level of transparency in their projects and across their teams and would also bring visibility on related work items and process bottlenecks. After evaluating several of the professional Kanban tools on the market, on the ease of implementation, the level of workflow transparency the tools created, and the responsiveness of the provider (customer service), they decided to move forward with Businessmap (formerly Kanbanize).

Beginning with visualizing the work of all teams on Kanban boards, SCHLENK was able to reach a new level of transparency that allowed everyone to easily check what is currently in progress, whose work depends on it, and what is coming as next in the pipeline. Visualizing the workflow and all items that are being processed also made it possible to unhide process blockers and dependencies, which created a better understanding of the relevance of different tasks.

Building End-to-End Project Flow Through Flight-Levels

To be able to visualize the end-to-end flow of project work and interlink the work from different project management levels and from various departments in one place, SCHLENK introduced Flight Levels in the management of research projects.

Portfolio Management with Flight Levels

Being able to structure work in several hierarchical levels through the parent-child card linking option in the Businessmap Software Platform, the Fight-Level structure transformed SCHLENK’s Portfolio board into a real-time status report. This allowed the teams to embrace a more probabilistic agile approach to planning and to see the big picture without losing sight of the details.

Optimized the Workflow Beyond the Team Border & Improved Cross-Team Collaboration

The described work breakdown and linking structure allowed SCHLENK to connect the work of different departments into one project flow and to unlock optimization potential on the coordination level by improving cross-departmental synchronization and removing process bottlenecks.

The result was a smoother flow of information, reduced waiting times between process steps, and a focus on workflows beyond the personal and team levels.

Improved Project Performance

Besides reducing the waiting times between teams and supporting a stable flow of work, monitoring their Kanban metrics, SCHLENK also managed to make process adjustments that significantly reduced the cycle time of their teams and increased their throughput. The introduction of Kanban and the dedicated work management platform by Businessmap led to tasks being processed quicker, more work items exiting the system, and a stable work process on a project level. As a result, the overall project performance was also improved.


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