truly vital component to the success of on-time project delivery. Daily stand up meetings give the team transparency and visibility. Leveraging tools to provide visual assistance, like kanban boards, can help the team literally see backlog, work in progress and completed tasks. kanban facilitates open communication and provides a single source of truth for the team.
As a global e-commerce and integration services company, GXS knew that open communication was needed to ensure it was delivering the right products on time while also meeting high level business goals. Open communication required complete, accurate and transparent reporting in order to make informed business decisions. To accomplish this, GXS used existing agile platforms to enhance its reporting capabilities, allowing product managers to look at historical data and work directly with developers to re-scope projects and determine which features were truly essential to the customer. This visibility and communication allows the executive team to focus on the right information to effectively steer the business and provide clear timeframes to customers.
While collaborative cultures can ultimately create stronger, more productive teams with a vested interest in an organization’s success, the move to collaboration can sometimes be challenging. When organizations adopt agile practices, a fundamental shift in culture is required. Not only does this mean creating a project development plan and establishing methods of open communication, but teams are also required to participate in the decision-making process and to take ownership of commitments. Project leaders are expected to create and facilitate this shift to a collaborative culture.
To facilitate positive collaboration, move the team dynamics from divergent to convergent thinking as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Moving Team Dynamics
5. Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is an important aspect of communication that is often overlooked in the software delivery process. While you can always ask customers what they want, there is no replacement for feedback from actual usage. Putting software in the hands of actual customers can be the most important step towards building the right thing.
Providing frequent demos to customers to validate decisions and to bring in the customer perspective is key. Customer feedback can tell you if what you are building is useful and valuable to your target market. In fact, your customers might surprise you and tell you there is enough value to release earlier than you planned.
The company Gazillion, for example, understood just how important it was to bring in the customer voice earlier in the development process, and how easy it was to do this after implementing agile methodologies. As an online game creator, one of the biggest challenges is predicting what gamers actually want. By putting the game in front of players within four months to test—a process that, without agile, could exceed a year—the company could quickly integrate user feedback to create a better game and deliver it ahead of schedule.
Following these five steps can help you as you strive to deliver projects on time, under budget and can likely help you to build the right thing: a valuable product that your customer wants and the market will buy.