Parmatur was founded in January 1999 to support companies and organizations to improve their efficiency in product development. The original approach was increased strategic ability together with Pulse meetings in a Pulse room (Obeya).
But why Pulse room and increased strategic ability? This is the background in short:
During the 1960s and 1970s, the use of projects became more and more popular in product development. Working in projects improved the communication between engineers in different disciplines, and made the work faster and easier.
In the 1980s it became clear that there are disadvantages to working in projects. The managers had less influence over what was going on. Evidence of this was found, among others, by the researchers Takahiro Fujimoto, Steven Wheelwright and Kim Clark. They emphasized in particular the importance of managers working on the strategic design for what is to be developed. To get the managers involved again, they proposed the introduction of strategic design.
In the early 1990s Toyota reorganized its product development organization based on these recommendations. Toyota had realized that their projects and the products that the projects developed were competing with each other for resources, solutions and customers. Their line organization became thinner and a new department was created that worked with strategic design. Thanks to this new department, resources, solutions and parts could be shared between the various product lines, which increased efficiency. The result was better products (cars), and new solutions (like hybrid cars) and new brands (like Lexus and Scion).
Toyota was not completely satisfied with the new way of working; the managers were still not involved when the project was underway. Therefore, they developed the concept of an “Obeya”, a large room where decisions were made and daily planning of the projects was carried out. This gave the projects freedom to work independently at the same time as information, knowledge and decisions were shared with the managers.
In the second half of the 1990s, Toyota started to work together with Scania to further develop these ideas. Scania had started working with strategic design as early as the 1960s with their modular system. To preserve this, Scania had avoided introducing the project work form. Thanks to Obeya, Scania was now able to start working in projects.
The ideas about strategic design and Pulse room (as Obeya was called in Europe) started to spread in Sweden. One of the founders of Parmatur worked at Scania during the 1990s, and was involved in the method development.
Parmatur was founded in 1999 with Scania as one of its first customers.
Since then, Parmatur has further developed the ideas with strategic design and Pulse meetings and Pulse rooms into a model, the Pulseguide. A simplified model, Agile Pulse, has in recent years been released under a Creative Commons license.
The Pulseguide (and Agile Pulse) has been developed so that it currently governs all the parts needed to work effectively with strategy and development, such as portfolio management, product management, resource management, assignment management, and of course project management.
The methods in the Pulseguide are based on principles for queuing theory to prevent overloading, game theory to facilitate teamwork, division into smaller part to reduce cost of errors, and information theory to set up a network of pulse meetings. Many of these principles can also be found in Lean production.
To monitor the progress with strategic design and Obeya, Toyota is using a number of key performance indicators. In 2019 Parmatur released an App (the Parmatur App & Agile Pulse App) to do this monitoring easier and faster.
Today (2019) Parmatur has helped over 50 companies and organizations to introduce Pulse. They have vastly improved their efficiency in product development with Pulse. You can contact us for references.