When dealing with people, there will always be a variable of change. At the beginning of any project both the client and consultant project team members know the least about what the actual deployed solution will look like. It is a common misconception that scoping efforts conducted during the sales process are the entirety of what the implementation team needs to execute the project.
New Dynamic works closely with business application users and project stakeholders to gain an understanding of the business’ goals and objectives when scoping a project. However, unless a client has invested in a comprehensive envisioning workshop, an environment exists where the client typically formulates new or modified concepts and opinions after the project has started. This is perfectly understandable since neither team has a crystal ball to predict every new idea, additional detail, or unrealized functionality that could arise or be reprioritized during the project.
We must anticipate and embrace change and set the expectation with the client that what they “think” they want or need at the beginning could change once additional details of the requirements are discovered. In Agile, as opposed to other project methodologies, those changes are welcomed. The key is in how we approach the inevitability so that we can work with it. Here are four guiding principles to apply to achieve this:
- Rather than using traditional change management processes that can slow progress, simply negotiate through the changes and document them.
- Have a mindset that changes can be iterative and can happen frequently throughout the project.
- Understand that plans are just documented thoughts in a moment of time. They can change when needed.
- Release the concept of perfection, be flexible, and keep an open mind instead of rigidly sticking to a plan.
Locking a client down to a fixed project scope slows down progress by focusing on finite change management versus embracing change throughout the development process. However, changes to a project do take time and effort, which always needs to be considered. Introducing new functionality or requirements takes time to discuss, validate, analyze, architect, and estimate as a team to ensure everyone is aware of the impact to the project, timeline, and existing development. To this point, when deciding to invest in a configuration or customization that was unplanned, it is important to consider the following:
- Focus on the return on investment
- Ensure users are going to use and benefit from the enhancement
- Determine the long-term use of the feature or functionality. Does it have a shelf life?
- If the customization is costly, take time to consult with the user group and gain their input, including very detailed use cases, from EVERY user that will interacting with the functionality.
- Invest in the time to gather detailed requirements with users and validate them with the development team
- Request that the development team provide an estimate, including any impact to existing functionality to implement the change
As a consulting company and implementation partner, our job is to deliver value through working software that satisfies our client’s business needs. The client is the driver of their budget, but if changes are desired, we will support the client through clear and transparent communication to convey the impact of the change. If we expect change and openly discuss as a team how changes will be handled, the project will be exponentially more successful.