Customers are an important part of our development process. The requirements that they deliver us not only define the scope of what is required, but the quality of those requirements have a huge influence on our development activities.
With OnTheSamePage, we define a Definition of Ready – a standard that all requirements must meet before they are considered appropriate for the development teams to start working on. At any moment in time, I can see what is ‘ready’ and what is not ‘ready’.
I can make sure there is enough work ready, to keep the project team busy. I can make sure the things that are most important to the customer, are the things that are ready. I can use this information in my conversations with the customer to keep them focused on the things they need to do, to help keep the project on-track.
The most common question the customer asks me is ‘so, how is the project going’. It sends shivers down my spine. It’s a question I find really hard to answer. We’re 70% through the requirements, but only 62% through the effort and 84% through the budget, doesn’t mean a lot to a customer.
Customers want to know when the value will be delivered. When will be features be available? When will my business problem get easier? And it’s hard to translate progress in to that language. Until now.
OnTheSamePage presents the work the teams are delivering aligned to the customer requests in a way that allows me to have a better conversation. I can see that the work we are doing to solve the customer business problem is 80% complete, and the final 20% is being worked on right now and will be finished in the next 6 days. I can see what we’re working on next. I can even see where the customer requirements are not clear enough so we’re not ready to start work yet. My customer conversations are more impactful.
One of my biggest headaches, is that customers keep extending project scope. But they do it in a way that I don’t find out about it. A quiet word with the project team leads to a commitment to do ‘one little thing’ at the same time as an existing request. Whilst these things shouldn’t be a big deal, sometimes they are. And when you add them all up collectively, it is a lot of extra work. All this extra work can end up not being charged to the customer and can make the rest of the project late. By trying to be helpful to the customer, we can deliver a worse experience to the customer.
OnTheSamePage helps me to solve this problem. All new customer requests are captured as ‘tickets’ in the backlog. Straight away, I get visibility into the new things the customers are requesting. I can create filters to show all the new requests that have been created.
Now I can have a conversation with the customers about the relative priority of their new requests and the impact on project cost. The scope is controlled better and we deliver more projects on-time as a result of this one little discipline.