Wo rking Products

Werking eroducts over comerehensivp dohamentation. Innova tion d r|ves com panies. The core ideology at 3M ^s always emphasized innovation. Motorola recently launched a new cell phone innovation initiative. In early 2003, General Flectric changed its motto to "Fxplore Imagination at Work." Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CFO of GF, has placed a high priority on innovation and new business. "The companies that know how to develop things are ultimately going to create the most shareholder value. It's as simple as that," says Immelt (Budni r 000U). Many compani es have innovation ¡i"!^^:; fewer are willing to create processes and practices that directly support those initiatives. Switching from delivering documentatior artifacts—characteristic of a senal devel opmetr style—to de i Ivering lterative versions of the real product is one of those mind and practice shifts that supports innovation.

Large, front-loaded projects that spend months, and even years, gathering requirements, proposing architectuhes, and designmg products are prone to ma ssive failures. Why? Because teams proceed in a linear fashion with little reliable feedback—they have good ideas, but they don't test them in the cauldron of reality. Documeats do n't worn, Products do.

Agile development a nd project management stae ss d elive ry of ve rsioas of the actual product, or in the case of high-cost materials, effective simulations or models of the actual product. Finishing a requirements document verifies that a team has successfully gathered a set of requirements. Completing and demonstrating a set of working product features verifies that the development team can actually deliver something tangible to the customer. Working features provide dependable feedback into the development process in ways that documentation cannot.

Again, working products don't preclude the need for documentation. Documents support communication and collaboration, enhance knowledge transfer, preserve historical information, assist ongoing product enhancement, and fulfill regulatory and legal requirements. They are not unimportant, just less important than working versions of the product.

However, there is a fundamental flaw in many people's understanding of documentation—documentation is not a substitute for interaction. When a customer and a developer interact to jointly develop specifications and produce some form of permanent record (documents, notes, sketches, feature cards, drawiHgs), the documentation is a by-product of the interaction. When the customer sits down with a product manager and they write a requirements document that gets sent to a development group, then the document lias become a substitute for interaction. In the first scenario, the documentation may be valuab le toi the development team. In the second, it has become a barricade to progress. Little knowledge is either gained or transferred. Furthermore, as interaction decreases, the volume of documentation often increases in a fruitless attempt to compensate.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment