As with most lean tools, it can be done in a simple way, the tough part is having the discipline to follow the process. From a technical side, each team set up shared folders on their network. One for work in process and completed projects. When they were ready to start a new project, they would go to their supplier and pull the next project from their "Completed Projects" folder and move it to their "WIP- Work In Process" folder. When they completed it, they would move it to their "Completed Project" folder and so on.
This process in and of itself is pretty simple and straight forward. It provided a simple way to visually move work through the system with no complex software or added cost. The novel part was that the team developed limits within their respective folders and an elaborate reaction plan.
It was not a work to keep working as long as the suppliers Completed Projects folder had work. They would work till their Completed Work folder hit it's limit. At that point they would stop and check with their customer to see what the issue was and why they hadn't pulled anything as they were off takt. If they could help them, they would.
If they couldn't help them, they would go back to their process and see if anyone else in their group needed help. If not, they would then look at their special project lists and any outstanding kaizen items. Finally, they had developed in skill and out of skill development plans. One electrical engineer noted that a hydraulic system follows a lot of the same rules as an electrical circuit and started to train on how he could jump in to help as they often completed their designs before the mechanical engineers.
Over time the teams became much better balanced and understood each others functions which further helped them improve their own designs. They also weren't getting way ahead and creating additional mistakes. In addition to balancing workload, they improved their flow and reduced lead time and overtime.
The teams also played with various magnet boards and small dry erase cards that they put up to show visually where work was in the system and derive performance metrics around the system. Over time, once the discipline was installed and they knew what they wanted, they could then start to look at ways to automate or get software to help. But the last I heard from them, they were still using the simple folder and magnet board process.