Agile Project Management was originally created for software development, but it is really helpful for all areas of businesses and even for general life.
Created in 2001 by a group of “lightweight methodologist” looking for a solution to flexibly the software development process whose most important goal was to satisfy the users’ needs identified the involvement of the non-technical users in the total project is absolutely necessary. After more than a decade, business people continue perceiving the IT development as lack of time in their agenda.
As Steve Denning explain in his article “The Best-Kept Management Secret on the Planet: Agile” When a bold new idea challenges an entire way of thinking of an international community, if the idea comes from an unexpected source, it can languish in obscurity for decades, even though the solution to a problem that needs to be solved is staring the experts in the face.
Business people needs technology to do their business, there is no way to conduct a business without technology intervention. But, how is the relationship between businessman and technology guys?…
… I have been a liaison between business and technology for a long time. When any business manager wanted to work with the “geeks”, they asked me if I could handle the situation. I was a business person from Finance area with a lot of patience to explain the needs to the geeks. At the beginning of 90th, the participation of business people in IT projects was considered a loss of time, but when the IT people did not deliver the solution, it was an IT problem. Thanks to the group of experts in the technology information and computer fields met in 2001, the solution was identified, but the implementation has found a lot of barriers.
As I perceive it, the happy medium to establish the collaboration between “Suits” and “Geeks” is to incorporate the business needs in the solution development. When there is a need, there is a “wanter”, and he or she has his/her own story to explain their need. So the User Story technique is the right tool to solve the gap between the business and technology people.
The most important thing is to understand the meaning of User Story. It is the most simple way to express a somebody’s need as “As a (Who), I want (What) because (Why)”. The User Stories is an Agile technique that conceives the project focusing on the final user’s need.
The understanding for both groups has been difficult. However, the companies that have adopted the Agile methodology have overpass the current tough economy situation, and they are making money, while a lot of companies continue using traditional methodology have succumbed. The current economy doesn’t have space to spend months in the planning phase of a project, writing extensive documentation, do a dozen presentations and get “20” approval signatures. If you are managing the projects like this, you will probably be canceling most of the project at the planning phase because your budget is consumed by the planners trying to convince the head of each area of the company.
The right way is to ask the heads of the areas what they need and more importantly, hearing their stories.
Let’s do a typical example to understand the value of the user stories for Business / Technology Relationship:
The situation- a distributor of “XYZ Trade Mark Vacuum Cleaners” has at large salespersons, when the salespersons receive a credit application to buy a vacuum cleaner they have to come to the office to process the customers’ credit applications. In the meantime, the customers could find the vacuum cleaner with other provider and buy it. So, the waste of time to process the application produces a loss for the company.
Once the requirements show explicitly the business’ needs in their own words, the IT people can design a solution that satisfies the business persons. The key in the Agile method is the division of the solution in small functional deliverables to satisfy the customer’s needs. The objective is to understand the needs and provide the best solution in steps or modules until the customer’s total solution is reached. The customer will view that each deliverable improves, eases and makes more efficient his/her business. The customer does not have to wait until the end of the project to obtain the business value that he/she identified with the user stories.
User Stories is an Agile tool created to automate business processes and provide solutions that satisfy the business people. This simple, but incredible methodology could be applied to any business or personal situation, including technology or not.
Be in contact…
Marisol Mojica – Management Consulting Services