The Crystal Clear methodology explained

In today’s fast paced and dynamic project environments, it is very common to see multiple projects running simultaneously. Due to this, you have to dedicate a small team to each project. This has given rise to a host of burgeoning project management methodologies. Crystal Clear methodology is one such strategy. This article will instill in you all the key properties of this methodology.
A cuboid crystal.

What is the Crystal Clear methodology?

Crystal Clear is a member of the Crystal family of methodologies. It embodies agile project management methodology and other lightweight project management practices such as lean and extreme programming. It exerts more emphasis on people instead of processes. Crystal Clear methodology is an ideal choice for small, remote teams comprising not more than 2-8 people.
Not just limited to Crystal Clear, the entire Crystal family of methodologies focus on efficiency and ensure project safety by following a set of key principles. Let us look at seven properties of Crystal Clear methodology in detail to give you a better idea.

1. Frequent delivery

Be it a small project or a multifaceted one, Crystal Clear project management methodology ensures frequent delivery to clients every few months. This allows project teams to glean feedback from users and make necessary changes. On the other hand, it gives client a running prototype to test and check if it is in line with their requirements. Additionally, developers can focus better, unearth loopholes in development processes, and fix them quickly to deliver a refined final product.

2. Reflective improvement

If your project is missing its targets and is moving towards failure, Crystal Clear methodology can act as a savior. You can easily revive your project back from the land of dead by reverting back to the drawing board and pinpointing what went wrong. Arrange a meeting with stakeholders and discuss what changes and improvements you can make in the next iteration to prevent your project from going downhill.
A short team meeting each week is all you need to salvage your project. By continuously reflecting back on what has conspired and tweaking accordingly, you can easily achieve success, even if you did not exactly have a stellar start.

3. Osmotic communication

The term “osmotic communication” might seem a little confusing to many but let me explain it. While team members are constantly swimming in a deluge of information, osmotic communication refers to filtering out unnecessary information, giving team members an option to focus only on the pertinent information. The best way to ensure osmotic communication is to make your project team come together under a single umbrella and collaborate face to face. This will help them answer important questions as a team and conduct fruitful discussions regarding the project. You can also use a task management tool to keep all your team members on the same page.
It cuts down on the overheads of communication and helps you get expedient and effective feedback. Moreover, every team member is fully aware of project priorities and who holds which key piece of information. Minor bugs and small issues are resolved before they can escalate into larger, more fatal ones. Even though osmotic communication is critical to large project, it is quite challenging to manage as your team grows.

4. Personal safety

When you are working on a project, things might start to bother you, tempering with your productivity. This could be anything from unrealistic schedules, overwhelming workloads, to an annoying colleague. Team members should clearly communicate their concerns to their project managers. This will help foster trust down the project hierarchy. On the other hand, it is important for project managers to ensure the safety of team members and provide them with a conclusive working environment that is conductive to their creativity. Project managers should empower their teams to:
  1. Confide the ignorance of a particular team member.
  2. Expose a mistake made by a team member.
  3. Concede to one’s incapability on an assignment.

5. Focus

Focus is a critical success factor when it comes to projects. If your team can focus better, it will boost their productivity and enable them to achieve more in less time. Project managers should ensure that all team members are fully aware of their roles and responsibilities. If your team focuses in patches, it will not be enough to ensure success. Maintaining focus throughout the project is important but difficult to achieve, especially when you are boxed in by distractions. Keep disruptions at bay so that your project team can deliver optimally.

6. Easy access to expert users

Ensuring easy access to expert users is important because:
  1. It gives your team an opportunity to test and deploy deliverables.
  2. it helps you glean rapid feedback.
  3. It ensures updated requirements from users.

Ample research suggests that having a direct link to expert users is crucial for your project success. It further emphasises on the fact that you must alleviate your dependence on indirect links with users and focus instead on developing direct connections with expert users.
Few hours every week with expert user can be very valuable for your project. This will help you identify different user roles and answer questions such as how each type of user will interact with your system. With a clear picture in front of your project team, developing a customer centric final project will be a piece of cake.

7. Technical environment with automated tests, configuration management and frequent integration

It involves the use of automated testing methods, managing configuration and frequent integration. Although, most teams manually test the code but a reliance on automated testing methods is burgeoning. It saves your team members from the hassle of manually testing code and gives them the much-needed peace of mind.
Configuration management systems offer project teams the freedom to choose a particular configuration for release and provide a roll back facility in case of any system failure. Furthermore, it also offers developers the liberty to develop code either separately or in a combined form.
The frequency of integration depends on the situation at hand. In an ideal case, your team should integrate the system twice a day. In worst cases, the system integration is done every other day. Frequently integrating the system can help project teams in detecting mistakes early. To achieve the best results, it is important for project teams to conduct continuous integration with tests.

Crystal Clear - A picture of the author
Key words: Project management, agile project management, tip, Crystal Clear
Author: Irfan Ak is a tech savvy & experienced digital content strategist at Branex, a web design agency, he is working with SaaS and several other brands on their content marketing strategy. He is also a regular contributor on various authoritative websites that created value for them. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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