Continuous improvement within Agile PPM and Product Management is continuing to rise on the agenda with many of our clients.
In most implementations, clients prefer many quick increments in the implementation over a ‘big bang approach’ – and there is plenty of good reasons for this.
While many organizations prefer this approach when it comes to implementations there are still quite a number of especially larger organizations that ask for a big bang approach to achieve the big wins early on.
This typically comes out of the waterfall method of IT solutions where most of the solution is specified before the implementation begins. There are many benefits to breaking it down in small increments. Most noticeably, we have found that the large scope will typically take from 4-9 months to implement whereas our timeboxed/agile approach will produce the minimum viable solution in less than 7 weeks.
During 4-9 months a lot will happen in the organization that will change focus, priority and processes on which the tool implementation rely on. The success criteria change. Roles change.
The advantages of a fast incremental approach are many:
- Embedding the process: While the people responsible for the purchase and roll-out of the new tool may be very familiar with the details (perhaps they have even defined the new process to be supported), the wider audience in the organization needs time to accept and adopt. The simpler it starts the smoother the transition within Agile PPM and Product Management.
- Optimize: Within the first 4 weeks of use, we can check back with key users and monitor their progress. Often this is done with metrics on data quality and process adherence (skipping steps). This feedback allows us to optimize and tweak the next increment before the ‘mold has settled’.
- Cost boxing: Enabling customers to move in increments is a very efficient way to control cost of the implementation. Faster feedback loops will help the success criteria “good enough” or minimum viable solution for a given field. Fast increments in process improvement will ensure that the business will see results now – and can divert budgets, prioritize project investment faster.
- Look for extreme flexibility in the tools. Roles, reports, fields and flows should be easy to change with zero programming.
- Try to avoid the classic waterfall approach when procuring tools, if what you really want is fast increments and early adoption. This is often requested even though the business expects agile implementations. These two approaches need to be aligned between procurement and business to get the right tool, with the most cost effective implementation
- Keep focus on primary pain points. Obstacles will soon appear when we take our eyes of the primary target. The most configurable tools, also allows for many stakeholders and processes to be supported. That is positive, but it does indicate you need to be firm in your success criteria for each increment and use your ‘parking lot’ continuously for great ideas, that are out of scope.
My experience is that Agile PPM is best achieved when process owners/management drives the project and interact with the implementation team directly (it is not a typical IT project, particularly when solutions like Focal Point is cloud based). Accept fast increments with the aim of delivering the “minimum viable solution” – and progress to next increment based on new prioritization.
Written by Jon Tollerup