Project development in many companies is a haphazard affair. We think of an idea and start immediately to develop it. I know that even though I like working this way, every time I don’t use a systemized approach I find my results are less than what I wanted.
If you use the following methodology you might find that your projects run more smoothly and have better outcomes. This process may not be the most fun and will feel like you’re being slowed down. I also know that taking your time in the beginning of a project for a little formalized thought will help you go faster once you actually start implementing.
Start with design. This is what I call what and why of a project. First I want to start with what I’m trying to accomplish and then answer why this is important. When I’ve answered why I will often have to revisit what because the answer to why will lead me to a different project I should be working on.
If I think I need to expand the sales base of my company and believe an acquisition is the best way to go, I have started with a working what. If the answer to why this is important is because adding 20% in new sales will allow the company new efficiencies then I now have a good why. However, this why will lead me back to re-examine what I want to do. There might be better ways that are more efficient and less costly than doing an acquisition to achieve a 20% sales increase.
This process is where real thought happens and allows us to think through what we want and why it’s important in a formalized manner. Taking our time in this stage of the process allows us to move more quickly in later stages.
Discover how we can produce our result. Discover is the how stage of a process. We know what we want to accomplish, and now we have to figure out how we’re going to get there. This part of answering how requires a generalized answer. It should be done on a strategic and not a tactical basis.
You might want to have your team work on different ways the result can be produced. There often is more than one way to get to an outcome. Often we don’t know what the best way is which brings us to the next step.
Develop different scenarios and test, fail, test, fail and change quickly. The key to making a project real is to start small, have a testing strategy, and allow your team to make mistakes and correct the mistakes quickly. The goal here is to fail fast and fail cheaply.
You’ve taken the time to be very clear about what you want to do, why it’s important, and how you’re going to get there. Now you can move quickly because you’ve already thought about the important parts of the project.
Deliver the result and make the process or product permanent. In any change process or product introduction there is great inertia in the design and development stage. Making a change permanent is always a challenge. Your organization has been doing things for a long time in a particular manner. When you change the process it might work at first, but there is usually a group of people who want to go back to doing things the way they used to be done.
Having an effective delivery system that has methods for stopping and controlling backsliding that will always happen is often the difference between success and failure in project development. Make sure you have a process for making change permanent and you’ll be rewarded for your hard work.
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