Just as no two clients are the same, no two projects are the
same. Thus the characteristics of the solution, the team, the timeline and
whether or not it is an initial implementation or an enhancement should be
weighed before selecting a project management methodology. C5 Insight practices
portions of Six Sigma, Waterfall and Agile; at times independently, and when
In the event a project is an initial implementation where
user adoption is critical, C5 Insight recommends a methodology weighted with
Agile practices. Agile’s greatest benefit is early engagement of critical users
and continuation of the feedback loop throughout the development cycle. Agile projects
consist of iterative releases called sprints, that typically last 4 weeks. Each
sprint engages the necessary Stakeholders, who work alongside the project team,
to ensure that the correct requirements are identified, conduct thorough
testing and report feedback. Each sprint consists of a looped process that
entails prioritization, requirements gathering, delivery, and demonstration to
senior stakeholders, feedback/rework and approval of the deliverables.
The benefits of the Agile process include: engagement of
users early and often, the ability to tackle issues quickly as they are
identified, and firm management of the project timeline and budget. The
prioritization portion of the sprint loop aids in managing the budget and scope
creep while the demonstration enables project managers to hold the team accountable
to deadlines. Additionally, frequent delivery of manageable portions of system functionality,
assists users with the learning curve. Ultimately, this aids in mitigating one
of the largest project obstacles, user adoption.
When engaged in an upgrade or enhancement type of project,
it may be best to consider a more traditional waterfall approach. The methodology
follows a very classic timeline whereby requirements for the entire engagement
are gathered, estimates and specifications are derived from those requirements,
and the work is planned, then executed. Execution is follow by internal and
user acceptance testing. Upon successful closure of user acceptance testing, the
work is deployed to production and the project enters the closure phase.
In this scenario, the client users are already acclimated to
the technology. User adoption is not going to be nearly as large a hurdle as a
brand new implementation. The team can clearly describe the pain points of the
current environment, as well as the enhancements they wish they had. From those
bits of information, the delta can be identified, allowing for estimations,
specifications and execution to occur. The client team can continue to work in
the existing environment without interruption until the upgraded product is
ready for testing. Upon completion of successful user acceptance, the updates
are rolled to production during non-business hours. In most cases, this is the
least invasive approach with regard to ensuring minimal interruptions to day-to-day
Regardless the version of framework a company chooses to
apply to a project, there are aspects of Six Sigma that are beneficial to every
project and should not be overlooked. For those who are unfamiliar with Six
Sigma, the methodology is comprised of six primary components: Define, Measure,
Analyze, Improve, Control, and Leverage Learnings (DMAIC-L). Define is the
concept of selecting a project and determining what measurement will indicate
success. Measure is about documenting the current process and validating how
much time is spent working that process to determine a baseline. The Analyze
phase is used to address root cause as it pertains to the current processes
inefficiencies. Improve is focused on process redesign and implementation that should
result in an improvement as measured against the baseline determined in the
Measure phase. The Control phase is used to set policies and procedures that
ensure long-standing success of the implemented improvements. Finally, Leverage
Learnings is used to assess the project in order to determine pitfalls that
should be avoided in future plans.1
The theory behind the DMAIC phases is subtly called upon in
the manner that C5 engages in both the Agile and Waterfall methodologies.
However the one Six Sigma concept that C5 Insight builds into every successful
project plan is Leverage Learnings. A C5 Insight client project cannot be
closed without team participation in a Lessons Learned session. This kind of
team engagement allows for constructive sharing of: what the team did well,
where it encountered challenges, how well those challenges were mitigated and
what it essentially would do differently given the opportunity. The results of
the session are documented to not only capture mistakes we should not make
again, but more importantly how to continuously improve the framework moving
The results are shared with clients in order to demonstrate C5’s
vested interest in ensuring a productive, long-term partnership. A relationship
built upon mutual respect for making and learning from mistakes, supporting one
another’s shortcomings and collaborating to work together better on future
engagements. C5 welcomes your thoughts and suggestions, do you have any tried
and true project management concepts that you would care to share? Please leave
us a comment, we’d love to hear from you!
1DMAIC Tools, Six Sigma Training Resources,
nice information... thanks
Fantastic article, I believe that Customer Lifecycle Management also plays a significant role in Customer success as it helps you generate and convert leads. If you adapt your marketing techniques to its stages, you will evolve with your customers and give them what they want when they want it. Great read though will surely refer it to others.
Scott, Great Blog! on agile project management, The Scaled Agile is better for the application life cycle management. As Project life cycle have more iteration and backlogs which are consider in the scaled agile model. There are very few end-to-end agile software. Thank You
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