Project Management

Are You Delivering Customer Value?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Value. It’s a big word, especially when it comes to agile. It occurs three times in the Agile Manifesto and if you have been working on agile projects for any length of time then you know that the purpose of any project is to deliver value to the customer. But what does that mean? On the projects that you are working on right now do you know what constitutes value? In many cases the answer is no, and that is clearly a problem. The bigger problem is that you may not even realize that you don’t know what constitutes value for the customer, and the customer may not know either.

Do we understand value?

There’s a cartoon that has been doing the rounds of project management departments for years. Its earliest forms predate agile and there is no doubt it resonates with anyone who has been frustrated by waterfall projects. There’s a version of it here. There are of course many different angles to that which is why it works on so many levels, but one of the core issues is that the customer doesn’t always know what they want, or more accurately, they don’t always know what they need. That becomes a problem for agile teams if we are relying on the customer to review and accept a solution as meeting their needs.

Sure, the fact that agile involves the delivery of a tangible solution is better than simply being given a design document or solution …

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- George Bernard Shaw