Top 3 Steps for Building a Successful Methodology
A while back I wrote about how to get methodology buy-in. I’m here today to talk about the top three steps you need to execute in order to build out a successful methodology for your organization.
Get Input, Lots and Lots of Input
If you’re going to write a ‘how-to’ manual on project delivery for your organization you darn well better know what your organization does and what are the key delivery points for your projects. For example, if you’re a COTS software organization with a somewhat repeatable delivery process, it’s incumbent upon you to understand the typical delivery model, what works, what doesn’t work and what customers are expecting from your organization. You need to know the industry that your organization is serving (hopefully you’ve already got that background before you’re hired). Find out from the people who actually are doing the work – what do they normally do. Talk to executives, see what pain points they have with the current delivery model (or what they want from a new one). During these discovery sessions you should be asking as many questions as humanly possible to get an overall understanding of product and/or services delivery within your organization. If there’s an existing methodology, study it and understand it. If there’s not, find out what common traits other past projects have had and start from there.
Identify What’s Working Well – and Don’t Change It!
A lot of times when implementing a new methodology (either from scratch or modifying an existing one), a lot of the good is thrown out with the bad. It’s important to realize that there are probably some good aspects to what is happening today and it’s crucial to identify those strengths. Perhaps there’s a good process in place already for listing out required documentation, or maybe an established way of deploying projects to a test environment that everyone understands. It’s absolutely critical that you are not replacing or supplanting good work habits that support successful project delivery within your organization by steamrolling them with something else.
Be Open to Change, and More Change
Probably the biggest piece of advice I can give anyone when putting together a project delivery methodology is that you’re not going to get it 100% correct right out of the gate. Be prepared to tweak, change or augment whatever you need to make sure that projects are getting out the door successfully. Your job is to ensure that the methodology establishes a foundation for good, consistent project delivery. Be open to changing your approach if something is not working. And once you’ve rolled your methodology out, it’s very important to not become complacent with it. You need to always be vigilant for changes to your organization or industry that perhaps requires you to change your typical project approach. Now you can’t be radically altering your delivery methods every six months (that’s called “no methodology”) but the strongest organizations realize when it’s time to alter their approach ever so slightly.
Remember that methodologies are meant to make our projects go smoother, not just add work or additional paperwork for the sake of adding it. The best methodologies are those that provide guidelines and finish lines but allow the team members to be creative in how they get there.
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