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Know what the business wants & why

Know exactly what the business---the customer or product owner---really needs, short-, mid- and long-term.

Plan Phase

One of the tasks during the planning phase of any new initiative---or iteration---is to "Discover" the business opportunities & needs:

  • In non-technical terms. No screen designs, no data models, just plain English.

  • Without assuming anything about existing systems and "how things are done today".

  • Translate to "pure" functional requirements --- and "nice to haves".

  • Looking broad horizontally, thinking ahead. Mile wide, inch deep at this stage.

  • Let the business "dream a little" about "what could be" and "what should be", so that future needs can be identified and communicated --- without necessarily committing to them (yet).

  • Promote "thinking outside the box", encourage people to not make any assumptions about what is technically possible or not --- so often these assumptions unknowingly keep the bar lower than it could be.

  • Continuously improve, new insights occur all the time, have one "living" shared data structure --- the Use Case Tree --- that gets continuously updated with the latest insights even while parts of that Use Case Tree are already running in production or still worked on.

  • Business clearly decides which strategic use case(s) -- in the tree --- has/have priority. Capture these priority settings and use them to derive the right implementation order of use cases, determine --- with the business --- the shortest path to delivering on the specified business outcomes.

Build Phase

Once a roadmap has been agreed, which is "the contract with the business" i.e. the budget holder or product owner, implementation of the first use case on the given roadmap can commence.

Implementation means, in the context of an EKG and from the viewpoint of the business:

  • Specialists are adding details to the use cases that are on the roadmap.
  • All effort will be visible. Anything that anyone does to implement a use cases is directly or indirectly related to that use case and therefore trackable and traceable providing full transparency to the business around:
    • progress, blockers
    • cost, risk, raid log
  • The business never loses sight on what happens with their budget and agreed deliverables. All reporting to the business occurs in the context of the agreed roadmap, even after delivery.

Run Phase

Ideally, at higher levels of operational maturity, changes get rolled out to production continuously and as frequently as possible so that any given update to production is as small and impact-free as possible.

  • End users get to see results on a continuous basis and will be able to provide immediate feedback in the expectation that their feedback will be heard and possibly lead to improvements in the very short term (which keeps people much more engaged)
  • There will never be any "big bang deployments" anymore. There's no need anymore to send whole departments to training because of a giant new release, everything goes gradually and people get used to it in a more natural way --- boiling the frog in cold water, thereby reducing the resistance to change and enabling a much more engaged user community.
  • End users will be able to relate their work directly to the appropriate use cases as they are defined in the Use Case Tree because the Use Case Tree is part of the EKG itself and advanced user interfaces can link to it. It describes the user's domain in their own terms. Direct feedback loops to all relevant stakeholders are therefore possible which yet again promotes collaboration, end user satisfaction, reduces costs and avoids technologists building something that's wrong or will never be used.
Author: Jacobus Geluk