Digitalization projects raise complex and novel questions for companies. Such questions may include the challenge of transforming the “digital experience” from selective interactions into a comprehensive, new experience for customers and employees.
At the customer interface, it is important to translate realistic customer journeys into features and user stories in such a way that the requirements for interdisciplinary, end-to-end processes can be mapped effectively. This enables the processes to be detailed as backlogs for IT implementation.
The high level of customer focus, the strong process relevance and the close interaction with IT are requirements that must be considered in parallel and that, together, lead to extremely dynamic project development.
The characteristics of agile project management make it ideally suited for digitalization projects:
· Short development cycles (1 to 4 weeks) with close involvement of the customer, each cycle producing a usable product;
· An iterative, incremental and adaptive project approach with a high degree of flexibility of goal achievement while controlling risk;
· Continuous learning, transparency and feedback looping to continually improve team performance.
In the right environment, agile projects can generally produce better results in a shorter time due to their strong customer orientation. However, they require more resources and demand more intense work than classically controlled projects.
To be able to fully leverage the advantages of agile project work in business practice, several prerequisites must be met, including:
· Everyone involved in the project must be familiar with agile methods and tools, know how to use them, and be motivated to do so;
· The project team should be cross-functional, stable over time, and work in a common location;
· The contracting agents or sponsors should understand and support agile methods of working, especially their particularities (e.g. no project manager and no steering committee);
· Customers should be available for the initial determination of requirements and for regular approval of intermediate (incremental) results;
· The project content should permit the creation of self-contained incremental results after each sprint.
If these and some other prerequisites for agile project work are fulfilled, very good results can be achieved.
If all or some of the prerequisites are lacking, careful consideration of whether a project can be successfully carried out using agile methods is needed in the light of major content and organizational challenges. In such cases, more practicable, hybrid approaches from agile and classic project management are often better suited to exploit the essential advantages of agility. The experience gained in such projects can then be applied systematically to develop and expand the specific skills required for agile work in the company.
acondas’ extensive experience with both agile and classically managed projects in large companies shows that corporations in particular are highly individual in terms of their digitalization projects and programs. This underscores the importance of consciously designing agile work so that not only the concrete project succeeds, but also that the lessons learned are systematically applied to permanently strengthen agile project management competency in the company.