Technological projects. Management & Agile methodologies
Alfonso Ferrandiz||digital trasnformation|5 min read
What implications does the management of technology projects have?
The management of any project it’s an activity which involves two main actions: thinking and doing. An excess of planning and analysis that is not accompanied by activities for development and implementation will have no result. And a development without planning will be, barring chance circumstances, a failure.
A sentence that sums it all up in one line, would be the following from Napoleon Hill: “Plan your work and work your plan”. Many international norms and standards, as PMBOK, ISO 215000, Prince2 or ICB4.0, define best practices for project management, aiming to unify criteria and methodologies and facilitating the emergence of common aspects to all projects (despite, intrinsically, each of them is different).
It’s essential be clear that, when deciding how to manage the project, first thing we must do is defining the deliverable or deliverables (that is, that which has been entrusted to us, be it tangible or intangible). Once this has been defined and the degree of definition of the requirements has been established, we can choose the more suitable management systems and define the life cycle of our project.
Traditionally, the approach that had been applied to projects, was a predictive one. That is, for projects with previously known requirements and few changes. In this case, the project management plan is the roadmap that will fix the different stages, which could be made in succession or in cascade.
For example, let’s think about the construction of a housing estate. The norm will be to define the deliverable (the housing estate), the needs, the deadlines… getting with this our Project Management Plan, which we will follow. Changes have to be tackled using preset procedures and they will be tried to be keep on the lowest possible levels (let's imagine that with the building practically finished, we have to change the beams).
Management systems Agile
This approach, which continues to be applied to a large extent and which, in my opinion, is still appearing in most of the projects although in its hybrid form, it’s currently accompanied by a huge variety of project management systems that we call “Agile”.When we talk about Agile, specially in spanish, a common mistake is to confuse it with “fast”. The correct meaning will be “adaptive”. The main goal is not being fast (although we are too) but being adaptive.
Adaptive approach in the development of a project
This approach is useful when we confront highly dynamic projects which have previous requirements poorly defined. In many occasions, when starting a project, our clients doesn’t know exactly what they want and we are aware that, speaking of software and technology, as the project progresses features will be added or discarded.
The goal is that at the end of the project, the client obtains a deliverable that leaves him/her completely satisfied. Here we should talk about the concept of Acceptance Testing. It’s not just a matter of giving the client a deliverable and then disengage.
On the contrary, once delivered, upon this finished product or a version of the same, the client will do a variety of tests to check his/her satisfaction, allowing future iterations to be made.
A strictly predictive approach won’t be useful as it would limit the ability of the client and the team to introduce changes.
Planning and sprints
But then… Don’t you plan your work?
Of course we do! But we do it in a slightly different way. We organise our work in sprints (pre-determined time frames) and we seek to satisfy our customers with early deliveries (Minimum Viable Product) of working technology. After examining each delivery with the client, changes are introduced and new sprints launched, performing iterations or increments.
Think of it like a Lego figure. We build up the figure and we deliver the first idea. After working hand in hand with the client, we modify the figure and we work again with the client. And so on until getting the best possible deliverable for each situation.
Adaptation to each project and customer needs
In Exponentia, we apply the project management systems which are more suitable for each client and situation, using hybrid or agile approaches and methodologies as Scrum, Kanban, XP, among others. We do not limit ourselves to a specific methodology because, in essence with the values that have motivated the birth of these methodologies and having a wide expertise in them, we apply those elements that are useful in each situation.
Being focused on the customer, who will form part of the team; the promotion of face-to-face conversations over writing; a high capacity to adapt to change; the use of change management tools to make the transition easier for the whole company and, above all, putting people at our centre, are some of the pillars that guide our activity and that allow us to obtain the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
Because no good project, from the vision of Exponentia, will be beneficial to the parties if it does not put individuals at the centre, understanding their needs, seeking to solve their problems and trying to bring them closer to their personal fulfilment.