Welcome to the first of twelve articles where we talk about the do’s (and some of the don’ts) of 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/or your project.
This weeks principle is “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”. (Beck, 2001)
Fundamentally a project only exists because a customer has a need. Furthermore the only reason you should be doing the project is to add value, whether that customer is external, to your company, or internal. Often the project is delivering this value by developing a software or analytics product and so it is vitally important to remember that it is the customer who will know the requirements of and likely use this product.
As a project manager and business analyst, I have often been asked to come and “rescue” projects that have gone off the rails. Often this occurred simply because the customer was not being consulted.
A recent example is a retailer who wanted to “go online” due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The original project manager scoped a massive and expensive project and tried to bulldoze the customer into a solution they didn’t want or need. When I took over, the first thing I did, with my business analyst hat on, was speak with the customer. I listened intently to understand the client’s requirements. In doing this, I found that the client just wanted a way for customers to order take-away from the outlet until they could function as a dine-in restaurant again. Once this understanding was reached, the project turned out to be a simple creation of an online shop using a readily available online platform. The customer was not only satisfied with the result but was thrilled with the speed and low cost of the implementation.
Excellent project managers (and business analysts) spend time speaking directly to customers, asking them questions about the projects and constantly trying to determine whether they are satisfied (or not). This is more likely to lead to the delivery of quality products.
During any project, it is essential that the project manager keeps some sort of measurement of this customer satisfaction. Depending on the size of the project, this could be as simple as asking the customer at each meeting or as complex as using Agile scoring systems such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS) or Customer Effort Scores (CSAT).
Once you and your customer have determined the requirements of the project, establish agreed goals. However, listen and be prepared to change these goals. Customer demands can and do change, so ensuring goals are agreed ensures alignment.
And to reiterate: listening to the customer’s needs has the greatest impact on achieving customer satisfaction and project success.
In the next article, we are going to have a look at keeping the customer satisfied during the inevitable change that occurs during any project.
Beck, K. B. (2001). Agile Manifesto. Retrieved from Agile Manifesto: http://agilemanifesto.org
Cunningham, W. (2001). Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Retrieved from AgileManifesto: http://agilemanifesto.org/
Nofuentes, E. (2020, April 22). Measuring Customer Satisfaction – The Agile Way. Retrieved from the Agile Eleven – Agility by Design: https://www.theagileeleven.com/measuring-customer-satisfaction-the-agile-way/
[DD1]By example, what would be a product? Just for understanding on the sentence