Jul 9th, 2022
Posted on Nov 17, 2021 Tools & Tips
The project discovery is where we learn and map business processes, gather requirements and diagram system architecture. At its most fundamental level, discovery establishes the problem that needs to be solved.
In a project’s post-mortem, we can often blame an incomplete or inaccurate discovery for a poor end-result. Where does discovery go wrong? How can we help get a complete and accurate picture of what the business is really asking for? The following are common mistakes made during discovery and some tips on how to avoid them.
The X/Y Problem is a phenomenon that occurs when we confuse a suggested solution for the real problem. Here is an example: The Sales Director says they want an email to be sent to notify Sales Management whenever a Sales Representative discounts a product.
On its face, this is a simple requirement. But what problem is being solved? By going a step further and asking ‘why,’ we may discover that:
At the end of the day, an email would not address any of the real problems; it only suggests a flawed solution. What might be a better solution based on an understanding of the actual problems? Remember to step back and ask ‘why’ when you’re offered a solution or requirement instead of the problem.
Depending on the project sponsor, the project team may be kept from having direct access to the actual subject matter experts. This is common when IT acts as the project sponsor and offers up their own SMEs.
This is often done with good intentions. They don’t want to bother stakeholders and feel that they have a good enough understanding of the business process to deliver requirements.
How to Avoid
Don’t take requirements from anyone but the business. Unless requirements are strictly technical in nature (ie. The System will allow logins from a particular IP Range), they should come from the business.
It’s best to hear from the ones who do the work. They know their problems and their process, and they stand to gain the most from a successful implementation.
These subject matter experts also drive adoption. If they don’t feel like they’ve been consulted or involved in the project, they are less likely to feel that the solution serves their needs. Ask for the source of the requirements you’re given. Ask who else should be involved in the discussion. It may lead to a longer discovery, but it will result in a more successful implementation.
Projects are less likely to fail if there are informed customers giving meaningful input during every phase of requirements elicitation, product description and implementation.”
Nothing stops a project in its tracks faster than a ‘that’s not what we wanted!’ All too often, the work starts without agreement or consensus on what work should be done.
At best, this can lead to last minute scrambling and unwanted project delays. At worst, a total project collapse.
How to Avoid
Avoiding this starts with facilitating alignment. At EightCloud, we push to speak the business process language of our clients. We want to be able to explain to our customers what their business processes are and what problems they face – consistently checking our understanding.
Seek sign-off where possible. This includes business process diagrams and requirements documents. Add clear definitions of done for work and acceptance criteria for requirements.
Every step of the way ask, “are we still on the right track?”
We do a disservice when we focus on the individual processes in a vacuum without remembering the larger vision. What are the bigger processes at play and how does your implementation align with strategic initiatives of the business? Each process should serve the whole and each requirement should serve a process.
Failure to take a step back can result in a disjointed user experience, gaps in functionality and poor design.
How to Avoid
To avoid this, seek to understand the project goals and align with the overall business strategy. This may mean pushing the business to define processes they haven’t before and to find synergies between processes.
Author: Grant Ongstad, Senior Salesforce Consultant
We engaged EightCloud to assist us with the development and implementation of a custom application. EightCloud provided outstanding service and expertise throughout the life of the project. I’ve been managing projects in the public sector for nearly 15 years and can’t remember an engagement that went smoother than this one. Their expertise and responsiveness was as good as I’ve experienced in the industry. I would not hesitate to partner with EightCloud again."
- Tim Vessey, Washington Department of Natural Resources
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