Last Friday, David offered us an overview of the project inception phase within agile software development.
David began by establishing the context of business-owned incremental delivery: business-owned, because the value proposition is determined by stakeholders outside IT; incremental, because there are often commercial opportunities to exploit by delivering ‘smaller and sooner’.
When dealing with a supplier, companies are tempted to specify everything in detail first, then to seek a fixed price / fixed scope contract. The problem with excessive upfront requirements analysis is that it tends towards increased project cost through gold-plating; speculative features etc.
An approach that combines small releases and incremental planning underpins project inception as practiced by Valtech UK. Abandoning his slide deck with nonchalance at this point, David drew our attention to the notion of an MMF. For those of you not in the know, MMF stands for Minimum Marketable Feature (at least, it does for most people) – the smallest increment of product capability that can be released, or is worth releasing. Contexts exist in which the value of said feature lies in the information it generates through being used – or not. Think market research.
David observed that many organisations struggle to ‘chunk up’ (his term) their projects into smaller releases, and that our ability to assist in this is an important part of the Project Inception offering. As is helping those organisations see the benefits of doing so in the first place.
At various points in the session, David referred to the project Valtech UK undertook last year for RBI, working on their Flight brand. It so happened that in the audience were one or two veterans of that endeavour, and they began to lapse into visibly wistful nostalgia as David brought proceedings to a close …