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Ready to start planning 2021 - here are some tools to help

As uncertain as times are, right now is peak planning time for your next digital project if you want to be ahead of the game in 2021. So here are a few of the top methodologies you may want to consider.

It may not feel like it right now but at some stage and that stage is potentially mid 2021 Covid-19 will be knocked off the top of the news agenda by a successful vaccine or a highly effective treatment reducing the mortality rates to something close to the flu season.

This damn virus will be replaced a top of the news agenda by the drive for economic recovery. A collective sigh of relief and something of a slightly nervous feeling throughout business and industry.
Are we ready, what have the competition been up to, is our market still there and ready to join in the economic bounce back. We better get planning…here are some suggestions for methods you may want to adopt.

MoSCoW
Anyone who has responded to a public sector RFQ will recognise MoSCoW even if you haven’t used it in your own planning work. It is hugely popular simply because it is simple to apply and communicates priorities with real clarity. If you haven’t used it before and you are wondering … its Must, Should, Could, and Would applied to prioritise project requirements and tasks.
The categories speak for themselves but for the sake of completeness:
“Must have”, mandatory deal breaker.
“Should have” really need this but, if you give me a great reason why not.
“Could have” lets try and get these if the Musts’ and Shoulds’ are there.
“Would have” ok, happy to let these go if needs be.
MoSCoW is a great start point for prioritising deliverables, but in terms of the successful delivery of a project it does need to be used in conjunction with one of the project management methodologies later in this article.

Value Matrix
The Value Matrix A tool that can be used on its own to prioritise functions, requirements of a brief or tasks or in conjunction with MoSCoW. Using the The Eisenhower matrix featuring X and Y axis “Important – Not Important” and “Urgent – Not Urgent”. Mapping each requirement against the four quadrants provides a clear and visible picture of priorities.

As with MoSCoW the simple Value Matrix in terms of the successful delivery of a project does need to be used in conjunction with one of the more detailed project management methodologies in his article.

The Eisenhower Matrix

A tool that can be used on its own to prioritise functions, requirements of a brief or tasks or in conjunction with MoSCoW. Mapping each requirement against the four quadrants provides a clear and visible picture of priorities.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Scrum
Fancy yourself as a Scrum Master? Perhaps a product owner or Product expert. Scrum is based around roles, events and artifacts. You may be Development team member, part of a team directly responsible for developing a digital product or service. In which case you will be involved in most if not all of the predefined Scrum events: Sprints, Sprint planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint review and the Sprint retrospective.

The Scrum Artifacts, Product backlog: this sits with the Product Owner’s role, it’s all the digital project requirements listed in order of priority: features, functions, requirements, enhancements.
The Sprint backlog: tasks to be completed during the upcoming Sprint. Possibly supported by a Scrum task board visualising progress to date documented as ‘To Do, Doing, and Done’ format.
If you are looking for a flexible project management approach for a midsize development team this could be the approach for you.

Kanban

Kanban an Agile framework born out of the Toyota production lines. It is time to get creative. This is a very visual project management method. It aims to visualise the process to identify roadblocks and in turn deliver high quality deliverables. By identifying roadblocks early in the process these can be managed and any impact on the process or quality of delivery avoided. The key states of a project being managed using the Kanban method are: Visualization, Limit WIP, Flow management, Explicit policies, Feedback loops, Collaborative evolution.
Kanban hits its objectives using visuals reflecting the development process. Kanban board, Kanban cards, and Kanban swimlane are all part of the plan. And ok they are in fact a whiteboard, postit notes, and marker pens but used creatively they visualise tasks, process, progress and deadlines set in three columns‘To-Do, Doing, and Done’ – a picture paints a thousand words.

Like most Agile frameworks, Kanban made its mark within the software development industry. However, due to its flexibility it has gained traction in other industries, and is one of a few project management methodologies that can be applied to any project that requires continuous improvement within the development process.

Best suited for: Like Scrum, Kanban is fitting for projects with smaller teams, who need a flexible approach to delivering a product or service. Kanban is also great for personal productivity purposes.

Waterfall

Good old Waterfall. It’s where we all end up when deliverables are delayed. A linear, design process. Its one dimensional, linear approach has seen it lose popularity where complex software projects are being considered or optimising productivity is a priority. The rigidity of the process flow has both positives and negatives: Software requirements, Analysis, Design, Coding, Testing, Deployment.
The Waterfall process clearly identifies when one process starts, ends and the identifies the activity that follows. However while it clearly illustrates any roadblocks it lacks the flexibility to address the issues impacting delivery and fails to provide an alternative path. Clients can also feel marginalised with limited feedback opportunities and UAT making a late entry in the process.

Waterfall still has its place in digital development where deadlines require enforcing or where smaller projects are delivered by small teams with the final deadline being less critical than the quality of the end product.

Agile
Surely everyone working in the digital industries is aware of Agile. Agile is probably the most referred to method of project management around. Well suited to digital development projects due to the various development stages and incremental nature of the process. Agile was designed to address the shortcomings of Waterfall. Based on collaboration cross-functional teams and the involvement of customers it is also designed to provide a transparent and measurable method that recognises the potential for change during a development project.

Agile fosters a belief system among its advocates: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan underpin the methodology.
Agile is commonly used to deliver more complex projects. The product vision statement, product roadmap, product backlog, release plan, Sprint backlog, and increment are the key facets supporting collaboration, flexibility and continuous improvement.

Best suited for larger complex projects it brings the option of flexibility to complex new developments where the intended service may not yet exist.

If you are planning your next digital project please get in touch or give us a call 01132 721 555 we’d love to join the conversation.

Published: 1 October 2020

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