Thoughts of a project manager about “Focusing on benefits realisation in an agile delivery model”
In the project economy, projects are directly linked to benefits which are derived from the services, products or activities performed for solving any business problem.
The benefits form the very basis why a project is undertaken. For example, automating repetitive manual activities in a business process is not the ultimate objective in terms of benefits. Instead, increased efficiency, productivity gains, cost savings, higher accuracy along with economies of scale are the business drivers for automating a manual process and, hence, the criteria for project success.
It is very important to understand the iterative cycle of benefits realisation through PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust) method for maintaining the cadence of value delivery.
- Plan stage helps in establishing the objectives to deliver the expected benefits in alignment and agreement with the customer. These benefits allow the prioritisation and funding for the outcome and impact-based deliveries in shorter iterations with continuous feedback loop.
- Do stage helps in converting the plan into implementation of manageable deliverables for the realisation of expected benefits.
- Check stage helps in empirical evaluation of data and results collected from the previous stage. This is the inspection stage which allows to compare expected outcomes with actuals to see if there are any deviations with the help of various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
- Adjust stage helps in adaptation from the earlier stage of inspection for improving the process. The benefits expected and realised are re-evaluated and baselines are revised to plan for the next cycle.
In an agile delivery model, the business benefits realisation becomes pertinent; since the features to be delivered are prioritised in the product backlog based on the business value. Benefits are delivered faster in an Agile way of working as it embraces the following important aspects:
- Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - This allows obtaining a quick feedback on the minimum set of features delivered with least effort for learning purpose and testing the hypothesis. It helps in adjusting the development of remaining features accordingly. It also helps in stopping any work which is not expected to give any value to the customer and rather focus on high valued items first.
- Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF) - This allows delivering value to the customer through fully functional feature by launching them quickly in the market. It is directly related to revenue and profitability. It could also help in increasing the market share, goodwill, and competitive differentiation. MMFs also help in planning the releases better as they focus on value delivery to the customer.
- Minimum Marketable Release (MMR) - It is the summation of all MMFs delivered as part of expected features developed in the minimum versions so that customer can realise the benefits by launching them to the market.
- Minimum Marketable Product (MMP) - This is the first MMR used for shortening the initial time to market.
Both the sequential and iterative way of execution of projects will need to focus on delivering the benefits and not just the features as part of acceptance criteria and definition of done to validate the actual benefits.