Agile Series #7: You’re moving forward when customer’s receive delivery

Welcome to the seventh of twelve articles where we talk about the do’s (and some of the don’ts) of Project Managing Agile Projects.  During this series we will work our way through the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto and talk about how it relates to you, a project manager and your project.

Working software is the primary measure of progress. (Beck, 2001).

The whole purpose of project management is initiating, designing and executing, a successful project. Generally, a successful project is measured by whether:

  • It meets business requirements,
  • It is delivered and maintained on schedule,
  • It is delivered and maintained within budget
  • It delivers the expected business value and return on investment

What makes a successful project should be measured and is often the thing most forgotten by Project Managers when managing their project.

It can be very easy for a project manager to spend many hours creating a specification document – often months in advance.  The documents are created with the best intentions, however, the value to the customer is often questionable. Specifications change as software is developed and it is always in the best interest of the customer to have working software. 

This is what success should be measured against!


Recently, I came into a half-completed project that was created for a membership organisation.  The organisation was having difficulty completing the project on time and on top of this, due to COVID-19, they need to change the process. In the project manager’s view, it was going to create an inordinate amount of work to make the changes to complete the project in time.

This simply was not true.  The reason it “seemed” like there was a lot of work was because the schedule, as developed months before, had it documented as such.  When refined down to the basic Minimum Viable Product (the scope of what is required to complete the job) we found that there was ample time to develop a basic product with user test well before the deadline.

The problem here was that the project manager was more fixated on the scheduled tasks rather than delivering valued outputs to the customer. The project manager’s approach had embedded characteristics of being inflexible and unable to adapt to changing circumstances.

Looking at the project through the lens of delivering value through “working software” as the measure of success, the project was completed and the membership renewals went ahead on time, including all the changes required for COVID-19!

To summarise, successful projects deliver value to customer frequently by way of working product.  It is very easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles, however if, in the end, the project does not deliver value frequently – it should never be seen as a success!

Knowing how to approach project delivery is one thing, but how do you ensure that development is sustainable? In the next article, we find ways for project managers to help the team maintain a constant pace for project development to ensure that they are delivered on time.

References

Beck, K. B. (2001). Agile Manifesto. Retrieved from Agile Manifesto

Foo, D. (2015, July 22). Scrum Part 1 – Agile Manifesto. Retrieved from Daniel Coding

Novoseltseva, E. (2017, August 22). Working Software; go live strategy. Retrieved from Apiumhub

van Amerongen, R. (2008, July 1). Agile software development, the principles. Principle 7: Working software is the primary measure of progress. Retrieved from AMIS, Data Driven Blog