Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why the MVP method is hard – Technical

This is the 4th and last post in the series about why the MVP method, as described by Eric Ries in The Lean Startup, is more challenging than it first appears. Many organisations, large and small, refer to it. In fact it’s sometimes hard to find product road maps or project plans that don’t make reference to an “MVP.” However, few are able to apply even the most basic tenets of the MVP method, and instead fall back on traditional development paradigms which results in what I call the MPP.

Previous posts discussed the organisational and personal obstacles to applying the method. Let’s look at the technical challenges. I find this is something that is often glossed over, Continue reading

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Filed under agile, complexity, Lean Startup, Minimum Viable Product, Uncategorized

Why the MVP method is hard – YOU

Over the last few posts, I’ve discussed how the MVP method is very frequently referenced but rarely used, and there is a good reason for this. It’s not easy. There are many tall obstacles to applying it successfully. My previous post described how the organisational structure can challenge the process. This post is about an obstacle that may be easier to change, but sometimes more difficult to recognise: You.

You want to be a visionary

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Filed under agile, leadership, Minimum Viable Product, Uncategorized

I have a GREAT idea!!!….

I was recently asked what to do when a stakeholder or client asks for a feature or user story that either doesn’t make sense or is based on flawed logic or on a lack of technology or domain knowledge. Sometimes stakeholders’ pet projects, wacky ideas and whims and fancies can be the nemesis of a product owner and her team. They waste valuable time and resources and in some cases they can affect team morale, as the team feels that they are on a fruitless errand.

I have two solutions to this problem: Nip it in the bud or meet them halfway.

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Filed under agile, customer participation, planning, scrum, story writing, Uncategorized

How to avoid missing requirements

A common cause for consternation in development projects is when requirements or features are missed in the early stages. Missing requirements in traditional development can be very painful, as the gaps are often discovered either in Quality Assurance or in UAT, or later, which means the majority of the development budget and schedule has already been spent and addressing these new requirements will set the project back a significant amount of time. When using an iterative and incremental method, such as Scrum or Kanban, missed requirements are less problematic because development is usually still ongoing and the requirements can be added to a backlog and re-prioritized. However, this can have adverse effects on the release plan and overall budget, and there is still the risk of learning of the gap too late.

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How do we write good user stories?

December, January and February are often very busy times for consultants. I apologize for the long delay between posts.

I’ve been working on a few things, including some videos for Business Analysts trying to adapt to Agile, and to establish myself as an independent consultant for Requirements and User Story development. However, the topic of writing user stories has come up so frequently for me lately that I felt a burning need to write something on the subject.

I’ve seen posts on newsgroups and I’ve received questions from clients lately about the “correct” writing of user stories. Do we use “Shall” or “Will” or “Must?” Do we start with “As a <type of user>?” or should we start with “In order to <achieve some value>?”

In short, these people want to know how to write user stories effectively, which is a valid question. However, usually with some probing what I uncover is that what they’re expecting to use the written user story to communicate the need. Continue reading

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Series: Requirements – You’re doing it wrong Part 1

Most of you have probably seen this meme on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. Generally it is an image, probably taken out of context, of someone demonstrating a lack of understanding, with a comment to the gist of “You’re doing it wrong.” While these images are a little extreme, I’m sometimes reminded of them when consulting on requirements analysis. I’m not saying that organizations are often completely missing the boat, but I’m pretty sure that if they stepped back a bit they’d quickly see their problems for themselves.

Before I start with my first topic in this series, I’d like to quote the IIBA‘s Continue reading

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Filed under collaboration, customer participation, requirements, standards, Uncategorized, You're doing it wrong

We all do it.

I’ve been working at refreshing my technical skills lately, primarily by experimenting with Google’s Appengine in Java and learning Python through some online courses. This has lead to a number of realizations, but perhaps the most important was the one I had today. Continue reading

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Getting the Horse to Drink

Lack of stakeholder and user involvement is often cited as a primary reason for project failure and the greatest source of project risk. Unfortunately, whether you adhere to an Agile, traditional, hybrid or mixed methology, getting and keeping customers involved in the development process is always a challenge. I explained previously that the most common reasons customers state for not being involved are that they are too busy, they don’t trust the technical team’s ability to deliver, and that they don’t see the meetings as productive.

The first reason is generally beyond a project manager’s control, and the second is a lack of trust between stakeholders and IT that is often Continue reading

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Filed under collaboration, customer participation, planning, requirements, Uncategorized