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6S for success!

6S for success!
By Cécile Bérubé, PMP

6S BubbleManaging projects is like riding a bike. At the beginning, we hold the handles tightly, afraid of falling. Then, we learn to let go and ride our bike looking ahead while pedaling.

Putting down and controlling all requirements up front, holding on the handles tightly, having stakeholders clearly explain the product objectives solely via requirements is not efficient.

Learn to let go. Building user stories, rather than hammering out all requirements up front is easier to manage with the End Users. It’s tangible and expectations are easier to communicate. Tools are available to facilitate discussions (ex: diagrams, models, prototypes, storyboards).

Poor requirements management is a major cause of project failure, second only to changing organization priorities.¹

6S for success!

Stories, Small and Subdivided
Keep it small, break it down. Plan to subdivide into smaller portions and then distribute. It easier to manage and allows for simultaneous effort.  User Stories are essentially user scenarios that users can relate to, based on their own business processes and experience. Keep a single pool of stories (product backlog) for better control.

Divide any way that works: by user interface tier, system tier, business functionality.

Switch
Expect the unexpected, unpredictability and ambiguity. Respond to change. Make the switch. Focus on the short-term tangible, feasible priority outcomes and maintain the Product Backlog and include the remaining project user stories with from a high-level perspective (must-haves, nice-to-haves, don’t wants) Plan. Prioritize.

Specific (timed)
Keep the iterations to a maximum 2-3 weeks to keep the momentum, motivation and engagement.

Simple
Learn to let go of the traditional approach of managing requirements.Having hypothesis and assumptions are acceptable. Not everything needs to be known up front. As you move along, things will get clarified. Keep it simple.

Agile progressive elaboration
Uncover, clarify, remove ambiguity, validate, often. Iteratively reassessing expectations, having stakeholders voice and clarify all interpretations and assumptions, aligning, resulting in ONE interpretation. Expect change as expectations get clarified. Stakeholders will feel more engaged, motivated, satisfied with short-term tangible results.

Agile Project Management is no suitable for all projects. Project size, complexity, criticality, culture (including active sponsors and stakeholders, capable of handling change) and experience are to be considered. If required, adapt by balancing between Agile and traditional.

What’s your success story?

¹Source: PMI 2013 Pulse of the Profession®. http://www.pmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Requirements-Management.aspx
What the client explained


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Respective Perspective

Respective Perspective
By Cécile Bérubé, PMP

Perspective:“A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”

What’s the relationship with PM you’ll say? Everything!
You may deliver on time and budget….yet, why are projects apparently performing well and then fail to satisfy stakeholders’ expectations?

Communicating expectations/requirements/specifications is subjective and stakeholders do their best to communicate them. However, it’s subjective and may easily get interpreted. Re-assessing expectations with an iterative approach ensures that expectations are accurate, ensuring alignment for stakeholders’ satisfaction. Having different backgrounds, experiences and expertise may introduce different perspectives, which may introduce high project risks.

What the client explained

  1. Ask. Clarify (“Why”), Re-validate. Understand. Get a holistic perspective at the beginning of the project. Assess expectations up front. Do not assume that all projects are the same. Invest early in the project.
  2. Gain trust….and perspective. Get to know the environment. Getting to know the clients’ perspective helps gain trust and understand his reality and challenges.
  3. Facilitate exchanges but do not judge or blame. Leadership qualities and communication skills are crucial in order to gain respect and collaboration from key stakeholders. Conflicts are normal, having our own respective perspectives. Resolve.
  4. Assumptions are just known unknowns! Transform the unknowns into knowns, earlier than later. Clarify system, product, project and stakeholders expectations.
  5. Facilitate but control. Use simple tools, such as short iterative follow-ups, (i.e. weekly, 15 minutes) but do not overload. Ask simple questions, speak the language, be relevant, be prepared, challenge.

#What’s your perspective, viewpoint?