The all-to-common problem
It’s natural to be both excited about new technology potential and concerned about the risks.
If it helps, we feel excited and cautious at start of every innovative technology project we take on. And these are the projects we accept because the factors are right. Long gone are the days of simple technology software that you build and use for a decade. It's been replaced by our new era of technological advancement that is astonishing to everyone in the field that is paying attention.
There is a common story behind technology project failures. Maybe this sounds familiar?
- An opportunity to innovate is identified. It is high value and/or important to staying relevant.
- Leadership planning leads to a direction approval. A project is started. It's exciting.
- Foundational planning and design is completed. Enough confidence in the plan leads to project approval.
- People, money and time are allocated. The project is kicked off.
- For the first few months, everything appears to be on track. Communications are confident.
- Decisions become increasingly technical, new unexpected problems lead to new unexpected work, one red flag surfaces after another.
- The project devolves into a fog of complex option trade-offs, invisible background work and progress uncertainty.
- It's clear that project costs are outpacing progress. Work is constrained by diminishing budgets and communications shift to expectations management.
- The project ends (with or without a solution being released) and the focus shifts to what went wrong.
Hindsight discussions on the cause of failure reveal that the project should have ...used a different technology stack ...focused more on change management ...conducted more user consultations ...been more agile. The list is endless, but in our experience you can ...'place a trendy singular project failure reason here'.
Although these reasons for failure may contain truth, the real problem was likely a lot more foundational. Your project was missing the solution leadership, processes and experience necessary to do something this complex.
Our leadership at Hive One has spent 20 years implementing complex innovative solutions across a wide range of organizations and technologies. We have the proven processes, broad relevant experience and leadership to define and deliver solutions that exceed expectations.
How do we do it?
At a high-level, our approach is based on 3 foundational aspects. Clarity of direction, excellence in execution, and strong project control.
We always start by maximizing innovation opportunities and creating a strong baseline understanding. We select a focus group of Hive One and client resources that have the right skills, perspectives and expertise – and engage in deep candid planning conversations.
With your goals guiding decisions, we explore user/consumer opportunities, organizational opportunities, and technology opportunities to refine and understand the solution. All key features and process steps are evaluated for their individual cost/benefit and cost/benefit to the solution as a whole.
The outcome of this phase of work is a high-level system and service design with clear costs/benefits – and a newfound directional clarity across the core team. These vetted software and services designs are the basis for approvals and execution planning.
Iterative Execution Excellence
The service and software designs are converted into a backlog (list) of discreet work. This list is prioritized for risk and dependency and is the foundation for our iterative design and development processes. These processes include full client transparency and regular reports and check points. At a high level, four parallel activities happen in this phase:
- The features for the current iteration of work (sprint) are organized into high level feature designs and descriptions that the team can use to size the effort, identify high-level tasks, and establish a clear sprint goal.
- Following our agile principles, the detailed conceptual designs, workflows and information models for the iteration (sprint) are articulated into foundational requirements and acceptance criteria for sequential execution and assignment of development work.
- Following our agile principles, the specific designs, prototypes, requirements and or acceptance criteria for the next sprint of work are reviewed and approved by the stakeholders to ensure directional clarity and acceptance prior to the development of the feature. This ensures validation and feedback loops occur at the right point in the project to ensure that the risks of missed or changing requirements and rework are mitigated.
- Following our agile principles, the feature(s) in each sprint are developed, tested (unit, functional, and compatibility) and merged into the developed solution where they can be demonstrated, tested and accepted.
Each iteration is used as an opportunity to reward good work, make necessary adjustments, communicate the emerging solution and build interest and momentum with stakeholders.
Transparency and Control
Every iteration of work starts with detailed project planning and ends with a demonstration (where possible), retrospective on areas to improve, and a detailed financial and progress report.
Dedicated times are set design reviews and expert breakout sessions so that necessary answers and problems can be resolved quickly. To avoid unnecessary meeting overhead, every meeting has a specific purpose, attendee list and outcomes. Meetings that do not have a purpose are not held and people that are not required do not attend. For all work that would be negatively impacted by scheduling and holding a meeting, we leverage instant messaging (IM) communications and establish standards for how these communications should be used (to minimize disruption) and enforce fast response times to reduce dependent work delays.
All work that will be conducted by Hive 1 is stored in a master project plan with a high-level estimate for all known work (scope). This allows completed work (scope) to be compared to the time and budget used. This information is converted into detailed reports on all work and burn down graphs. Thes reports clearly show project control at the work item level - and estimate when the project will be out of time and budget if the project is continued at current rates with current work (scope). This approach also allows all work (scope) decisions to be immediately reflected for their cost and time impacts to the project.
Find out how our leadership, experience and processes will maximize your success.