Change Management Engagement Management Software Development

Avoid Project Management Pain


stingProject managers drive change. They sit at the helm of a chartered operation intended to deliver specified high-quality business benefits on time and within budget.

Project management is a noble and difficult endeavor—part science, part art—and effective practitioners must be skilled and experienced in a host of related disciplines too numerous to list here (but look here).

Various bodies of knowledge, certifications, and best practices arise and proliferate with increasing frequency intending to help increase the project manager’s likelihood of success.

cosmetically hemoglobin a1c fasting Avoid Some Pain

Here’s the bad news: despite concerted and well-intentioned efforts, projects often fail to realize expected results. The perceived gap between delivery and expectation may prompt some project managers, sponsors, and would-be benefactors to consult the Schmidt Sting Pain Index for a scientific ranking of their pain.

Worse yet, much of that pain is avoidable. The key? Providing appropriate levels of organizational change management (OCM) to positively affect the people side of change.

Why? Because even the best IT project that meets quality, time, and budget objectives can still fail to deliver desired business results and return on investment by failing to address user adoption, utilization, and proficiency.

Prosci presents evidence gained through longitudinal surveys indicating that projects with excellent OCM are six times more likely to meet or exceed objectives than those with poor or no OCM (96% compared to 16%).

Brilliant! Because most IT projects implement solutions that must be adopted and used for business benefit, focusing on accelerating and improving user adoption, utilization, and proficiency makes sense.

In fact, not integrating OCM planning with project planning is like asking to be stung.

That’s what Schmidt did.

How integrated are your project and OCM plans?

Rapid JAD Time Management

Bending the Dimension of Time for Quality


Bending Time in the Quality Triangle

So much to do. So little time. If only we had more time. Have you felt this way about a project?

One colleague of mine likes to say, “Time, money, or resources. Which one do you want to sacrifice?” This is another play on the Project Management Triangle of Quality.

Time x Resources = Scope

If your time is fixed, then the only way to increase scope is to increase resources.

If your resources are fixed, then the only way to reduce time and still get the same scope is to sacrifice quality; or maybe not…

Bending Time

What if you can bend the dimension of time? Get more stuff in the same time, all the while increasing quality. This is in effect increasing scope without increasing time or resources.  This is the proven method we implement and what you can put in practice through the implementation of Rapid JAD. Expand time. Expand the possible.


Do it Now or Do it Later?


Three Simple Note-Taking Tips
Guaranteed to Make the Most of
Your Meetings

“Tomorrow.  Tomorrow. I love you, Tomorrow.  You’re only a day away.”

So sings Annie in the eponymous movie or Broadway musical.

Aileen Quinn singing Tomorrow in the 1982 movie Annie
“Annie” – 1982

But waiting even a day, or any time, really, may be too much when you are capturing information in a Rapid JAD session or any information-gathering interaction.

And tomorrow is much too far away to start getting value out of any business meeting.

Using just three simple Rapid JAD principles can guarantee greater value–faster–from any information-gathering session.

Who Will Take Notes?

From the beginning of time, note-taking in meetings has a long history of modest improvements at best (OK, the creation of writing was a big step forward) and long-lived deficiencies at worst.

You’ve been in that meeting where the note-taker, or scribe, is drafted as an afterthought.  “Anyone willing to take notes?” goes the plea.


Assuming any notes are taken, here are some glaring problems:

  • Interpreting even your own good meeting notes after the meeting can be challenging
  • Interpreting someone else’s notes can be even harder
  • Basic content and relative importance can be muddled or lost altogether
  • Time for revising or transcribing information is limited, and never as much as you were counting on
  • Memory fades (if I’m remembering correctly!)

There is a remedy: whenever possible, ensure that you are capturing input as fully as possible in real time during the Rapid JAD session.

“Taking Notes” Just Grew Up

No one would think that listening closely and then relying upon memory would be an acceptable substitute for even the most rudimentary note-taking in a JAD session.

Of course we take notes! But not all notes are created equally.

What makes a good note?

  • Accuracy
  • Completeness
  • Consensus

What makes a good note possible?

1. Captured Now

Most would say that note-taking is a real-time event by definition.  Almost always true, yes.  So how can we improve upon what’s going on during a real-time note-taking session?

Capture the note in its final resting place such as a meeting minutes template, a requirements document, a wireframe or process-flow diagram or other artifact.  This can eliminate transcription or copying, and if a note belongs in two or more artifacts, go ahead and put them there now, that is, during the note-taking session.  Why wait?

2. Made Visible to All

Now that we’re capturing information, consider the value of letting others in on it.  By projecting the notes (on a screen in the meeting room or on a networked computer screen for remote participants, or both), all can see the note-taking process.

Yes, it gets suddenly harder to spell while typing in front of others.  Use this as a humorous moment and then get on with the task.

This facilitates an immediate feedback loop: listen, type, view, read, respond.  Beyond demonstrating that you are capturing key information (or not), this transparent process helps ensure that the notes are, in fact, accurate and complete.  And when they are, you will have won consensus (if not unanimity) and the trust of your team.

But wait! There’s more!

3. Revised Quickly

I’ve already mentioned the real-time typo that will be pointed out (and corrected) in real time, but revising quickly has a greater, more liberating quality: it relieves you from the tyranny of having to get it right the first time.

If your first take is not perfect, revise!  Expect it.  Welcome it.

Revising quickly has a second liberating quality: note-taking is really information shaping.

Add. Delete. Revise. Until, by consensus, and to the best knowledge of those participating at the time, the captured information is as accurate and complete as possible.

So don’t wait.  Make capturing information the center of every Rapid JAD session. Whenever possible and practical, display notes on a screen for all to see.  Revise, revise, revise, and confirm notations with participants to ensure accuracy, completeness, and consensus.  Store in an accessible collaboration tool and notify or distribute artifacts to parties according to the project’s communication plan.

When capturing notes in this fashion, you’ve used the Rapid JAD session–and the Rapid JAD principles–to create an artifact accepted by those present and ready for action or wider review, as appropriate.

All of a sudden, doing notes later–today or tomorrow–seems silly.

Sorry, Annie.


Rapid JAD Advances Engagement Management


Why Engagement Management?

Engagement Management is all about business and information technology (IT) teams working together. This may sound easy. Just talk and draw some stuff up. But effective and efficient communication at the level needed for software systems development can pose many challenges. Perhaps you are familiar with this great cartoon which illustrates the challenge of clear communication?

All of these individuals–the project manager, the architect, the developer, the salesman–can read and hear what is to be built, carry on a discussion about the project, and then set about working on just what they think they understand.

However, as Erik Jul points out in Visible to All, communication can be difficult. The larger the project, the more complex the solution, the greater the risk when it comes to clear communication.

Rapid JAD has a solution we call Engagement Management.   

Engagement management tightens the communication link among team members, customers, and stakeholders because all communications are:

  • Planned in advance
  • Clearly documented
  • Revised as needed, and
  • Available to all.

Making project information such as action plans, risks, decisions made, tasks, designs, and workflows readily visible aids the essential two-way communication needed to go from project inception to successful project delivery.

Who Needs to Be Engaged?

A communication plan will identify the stakeholders, their interest in the project, the format of the communication, how often to communicate, and who is responsible for the communication. Of utmost importance is identification of the business expert who will, on a daily basis, be available to answer questions that come up from the IT team. This business expert will be appointed by the business as the Product Owner.

The Product Owner, representing the business and the Project Manager, representing the IT team, work together on details of the communication plan and who will be responsible for the various pieces of the plan. Even in a large organization where tools are readily available, there still needs to be discussion and planning between the business and IT around communication.

Where Should Engagement Take Place?

Rapid JAD addresses two types of engagement: people (meetings) and artifacts.

For people, the ideal place for engagement is in the same room with a projector or shared visual display. This is not always an option as teams can be geographically separated. When geographically separated a tool such as Go To Meeting makes it easy to share what is being seen in one location with team members in another location. Some tools also provide video conferencing which is a plus for geographically separated teams. Whatever tool is used, shared visibility is key for people who are getting engaged with the system development. You want all members of the engagement capable of viewing the same objects.

For artifacts, visibility is again a key factor. Not only is collaboration important, artifacts need to be visible to all. Where do you put the project vision? Where do you put the requirements? Where do you put the designs? The workflows? The tasks? The issues? Project artifacts must be readily accessible and visible to all who are part of the project.  This engagement factor is key to success. 

What Focuses Engagement?

Artifacts, and their related processes, focus engagement.

Regardless of what is being worked on, team members from both the business and IT need to be engaged and jointly developing and reviewing project artifacts. Key artifacts for engagement are:

  • Project Vision
  • Requirements
  • Definition of Done
  • Change Management Plan
  • Story Boards / Wireframes
  • Business Workflows
  • Technical Designs
  • Design Decisions
  • Issues
  • Tasks
  • Risks
  • Milestones and Timelines
  • Team Roster & Contact Information

How Do We Accomplish All of This?

Collaboration tools greatly enhance engagement.  While the use of Collaboration tools varies from company to company,  half of the 379 respondents to a poll on the Intranet Professionals LinkedIn group indicated that their company uses SharePoint. To ensure success, regardless of the collaboration tool used, both the business and the IT team must be able to access and use the tool.

Collaboration tools provide a way for everyone on the team to be engaged with the current artifacts. Whether you are concerned with business workflow, interface design, technical decisions, or even project vision, having one location with the current information is critical.

The tools you use for engagement will play a large part in implementing the Rapid JAD principles for accelerated system design: Capture Now, Document Once, Revise Quickly, and Visible  to All.

When Should Engagement Start?

Informal engagement starts before a project is approved, during development of the business case and associated cost benefit analysis. Once a project is approved Engagement Management should start with identification of the Product Owner for the business and the Project Manager for the IT team. Together the two take ownership of the project and collaborate on the Engagement Management plan.