Are you looking to improve your product development processes? Our Project Management expert, Mike Saint-Jean provides his insight into why adopting or optimizing your own AGILE approach will be the pivot that increases ROI in product development.
As a consultant, I have frequent discussions with clients regarding new project management approaches, processes and policies of risk mitigation, and change management as they integrate new technology into their product. After some years, I have found that the motivation to pivot their approach comes from common challenges they face:
Customer expectations and scope keeps changing
Our products and integrated technology is more complex than expected
Project teams are distributed internationally and controls are challenging
Timelines and release schedules change constantly
Why should I change my Project Management Approach to Agile?
The principles of Waterfall project management dictate that you should not have a working solution until you finish your timeline. What makes that more challenging is that the customer is allowed to request product changes whenever they want. With that said, it’s doubtful to expect a fixed scope with today’s technology trends. Instead, you should plan periods of scope adaptation so that by the time it is delivered, your product value is optimized. When it comes to large solutions developed using Waterfall project management have complex development schedules for each team and won’t allow this kind of flexibility. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if we could change our scope on the fly so that we didn’t have to waste more time and money than necessary?
Waterfall and Agile Project Management Pyramid as described by the PMI
We also find that many companies practice Agile ceremonies on the team level without receiving the benefits of flexibility or cost reduction, this is a symptom of a broken practice or process that must be diagnosed and resolved immediately. Ad-Hoc Agile and Scrum-fall are the frequent result, you may also identify the symptoms on your own. You are looking for teams that are proactive, self-sustaining and communicate the status of their work or impediments often. Agile teams that have visibility to higher level goals do this regularly. This routine comes from Agile qualification, a well-defined process, consistent feedback cycles and the higher level of progression data they collect from these cycles.
In which areas does Agility provide value?
This is not an academic analysis, this is the reality of many project managers which I had the opportunity discuss with in various industries. In the latest State of Agile report, a survey sample of 40,000 correspondents from the executive to entry level reported that their ability to modify scope, increase productivity and quality drove their decision to Agile adoption.
Survey results for Agile Adoption rationale, reported in State of Agile 2020 report
When do we identify how much Agile is good for me?
Following our initial discussions, I typically invite you to a workshop where we conduct an Agile Potential Analysis. In this exercise, we walk through open questions regarding planning concepts, controls and structure to see if there is some area of improvement they’re interested in. Admittedly, I noticed that although this tool is excellent for an in-depth analysis of one’s product development processes, it’s not a quick activity. There are over 500 line-items and many business leaders can make an self-assessment and decision not long after we get started.
I’m ready to find out more, what’s next?
Now, we have broken that in-depth assessment to identify nine key factors of a successful agile product development process. These factors were then compiled into a simple checklist that leaders can take to a meeting, or on their own, and complete in a matter of minutes. This reflection allows those who want to be competitive or market leaders to identify areas for improvement while giving themselves a pat on the back for things they are doing well. Afterward, I invite you to call us if you have questions. Ideas are free.