Since our inception in 2005, remote working has always occurred and in some circumstances, the norm.
Given the unprecedented environment we are now operating in, it means that we are working to a 100% remote offering across numerous project kick-offs and live customer engagements. Through our continued use of remote working we utilise a number of reliable technology platforms that make the experience seamless.
Below we have outlined some of our implementation methodology principles:
Prior to project kick-off we will be gathering requirements, outlining the model design, defining the user stories and planning the sprint schedule. The User Story definitions (requirements gathering) are typically seen as the most critical part of the entire project.
Define the key stakeholders & subject matter experts (SME) to be present during the different functional sessions and then agree on a series of remote workshops, via video conferencing facilities, reasonable in length, communicating a clear agenda for that workshop along with expected outcomes. If lengthy sessions are required given stakeholder availability, then ensure you schedule adequate ‘breaks’ in order to gather thoughts and get some space between sessions. We promote this to help stimulate process design if nothing else, but also to simply take a breather. Following these process workshops, we would ask that you write up the user stories offline and then play these back in a wrap up session to the project team. We are available to support in the drafting of user stories as required.
As always, before moving to implementation, the user stories must be prioritised, measured and arranged into sprints. Ensure consensus between parties on the project plan and that they are signed off before starting the build, as normal. Model design is then underway and communicated to the internal SME’s.
In many instances, the implementation phase can be more efficiently run remotely than on-site; having less distractions working remotely than on customer site. The key watch-out being engagement during daily scrum meetings, sprint reviews, sprint retrospectives, PMO & Steering Committee meetings which will now be run entirely remotely. Daily virtual/video stand-ups will take place at the start of each day outlining what was done yesterday, what will be done today and any risks or blocking actions stopping that day’s tasks. You should consider a wrap up call at the end of each day. These in-day sessions can be simple 10-15 minute video calls but important to ensure everyone is clear and aligned on their roles & expectations for that day.
Agree the audience of each meeting in advance and ensure everyone has access to the chosen remote working platform so that you don’t eat into critical meeting time worrying about IT issues. Streamline your scrums as best you can, consider giving a short timeslot to each member of the scrum team and create separate sessions for anything needing a longer discussion but not the entire audience. The Model Building team will remain in constant communication throughout a working day with a blend of group chat and virtual meetings.
At this stage it is critical we establish who the testers will be and to communicate what is expected from them before commencing. Throughout the testing it is vital model builders are available and communication channels are clear. As a team we agree and nominate at UAT lead to consolidate all defects and playback to the project team – these discussions are more appropriate with a small audience.
The key objectives of the Deployment phase are to; get buy-in from the end users, ensure the new Planning Analytics lands successfully and secure a return on investment for the customer. As a natural by-product of the project approach you should be well on your way to delivering on these goals however there are still some remaining tasks to aid in the deployment phase which are mostly delivered remotely in any case:
- Develop communication plan for the end-users
- Develop and agree training plan for end users and model builders
- Handover and discussion of model maintenance and process documentation
- Gather user feedback as we transition to Go-Live
- Document, agree and implement on user feedback
Any engagement can have its own unique challenges and client preferences, but we have been fortunate enough to learn the common threats throughout our 15 years in business.
Whilst we all are dealing in truly unique circumstances, we believe at Budgeting Solutions we are extremely well equipped to continue our successful delivery of IBM Planning Analytics across our new and existing customers.
Our track record of successfully delivering on remote projects is strong and we look forward to working together as we mitigate this shifting landscape.