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10 Evolutionary Project Management Principles – Evo Principle 2 (#3 in the series 10 Evolutionary Project Management (Evo) Principles)
By Tom Gilb

The next Evo delivery step must be the one that delivers the most stakeholder value possible at that time.

Discussion

This is just like a game, like chess, where of all possible moves, you want to select the ‘best’ one.

What is a ‘best’ Evo step? That depends on your current needs and values. In some cases it might be just to get something, anything, delivered at all. Later the focus might shift to increasing the economic value for a customer. Still later we might choose to focus on the most profitable step. So, the notion of ‘best’ may shift. But at any given moment we need to be clear in our project and team minds exactly what a best step is.

In Evo we can often ‘compute’ the best step using an Impact Estimation table. The values of the stakeholders are (we hope) specified numerically so they are clear to all – in performance and in quality requirements. The project budgets for all types of resource should be equally clear and quantified. This setup (quantified requirements) gives us something with which to evaluate the several delivery step options. The option with the ‘best’ quantified, estimated, value-delivery, in relation to costs, should, in general, be the winner. This is very similar to chess-playing logic on a computer.

Of course, value for one stakeholder is not necessarily value for another, so a refinement of this steppriority evaluation is to decide consciously the stakeholders whose value/cost (step efficiency) we want to maximize. For example: out of our internal staff and testers; our new customers; our old customers – which one should we try to please first, and in the ‘next’ step?

The presentations will introduce you to the practical tools with which you can decide, as a team, which stakeholders have which precise requirements, and which Evolutionary steps deliver the best bang for the buck to the favored stakeholders.

Example

“Evo allows the marketing department access to early deliveries, facilitating development of documentation and demonstrations.

Although this access must be given judiciously, in some markets it is absolutely necessary to start the sales cycle well before product release. The ability of developers to respond to market changes is increased in Evo because the software is continuously evolving and the development team is thus better positioned to change a feature set or release it earlier.”

Elaine L. May and Barbara A. Zimmer, HP Journal August 1996.

Tom Gilb is a freelance consultant, teacher and author serving clients mainly in Europe and the US. He has books in print: “Competitive Engineering”, “Principles of Software Engineering Management” and “Software Inspection”. He specializes in software engineering, systems engineering, and technical management. He resides in Norway and London. His most recent papers, book manuscripts and slides are available on www.gilb.com.

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