While being in the consulting business for 8 years, I have seen how businesses (clients) have managed to get what they wanted; and that too, much faster and at lower cost than expected! This might sound a bit strange when considering a regular IT project.
So, what’s the ‘silver bullet’ that has made it possible? The simple answer is – working together. This also means making things that are reasonable; and not just making things because these are in the Requirements (it’s a part of a contract that specifies the things that must be done). So, the right approach to achieve the desired results here, would be to adopt the ‘Agile’ methodology.
Although, Agile originated in 2001 from the Agile Manifesto, it still seems to be a new concept for many companies! People still try to do things ‘as we have always done’ with lots and lots of specifications/requirements. At times, even a separate project is initiated to create the Requirements. Finally, those Requirements go to some ‘implementer’ for conversion to the working system. And, when (note when, not if) there’s something that’s outdated in the Requirements, it still needs to be implemented! Not because it’s reasonable, but because it’s in the Requirements! This is completely meaningless!
Then, what is the solution? Though ‘working together’ is the best option, it doesn’t help if Requirements are monolithic. A good start could be converting these Requirements into smaller and more manageable user stories. Then, especially if a contract is bound to those original Requirements, some mapping would be needed. It can be just a whiteboard with post-it notes. If people are working from different locations, some (simple) management tools can be more effective. The most obvious and easily available one is Excel, however, investment in some other useful project management tools can make things easier, at least, towards the end. Using a new tool is always an investment, even if the tool is free or easily available to everybody already (as Excel).
Here are some tools that can really help add value to projects:
- Atlassian Jira offers everything from requirements to bugs through tasks and tests
- Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS), is the obvious choice if project is made with MS tools and MSDN subscription is available
- Generally wikis:
Great technology or a brilliant business idea alone can’t change the world. These need to be combined with the right mix of people and effective collaboration. If done well, there would be no limits to what a project can achieve.