‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’. Mike Tyson famously explained how the unexpected can disrupt normal service. Far too often we see critical programmes getting ‘punched in the mouth’ with unseen risks, market movements and technology hurdles. Often, they don’t have a plan that helps them recover.
Waterfall approaches rarely suit complex programmes where the requirements can change before the end solution is delivered, often due to lack of available information or pre-testing at the programme inception. If you don’t yet know exactly what you want, how can you build it to a specification? Agile has become the de rigueur programme methodology. Often this is seen as a byword for poor or no governance, in the misguided hope that the freedom from ‘project bureaucracy’ will speed up delivery. True agile delivery has governance at its core, people own features and sprints, sprints have objectives and outcomes. There is a plan (a burndown schedule) and communication is fluid via daily stand-ups.
We apply agile principles to effective programme delivery. This combines flexibility and testing to gain more insight on what customers want, with the rigour around ownership, communication and working to a set of outcomes that enable continuous progress. Our FinTech clients embrace it as it gels well with their use of Jira, Confluence and Slack tools. Our traditional banking clients marvel as it accelerates delivery and removes the ‘treacle’ they describe as their legacy methodologies where stakeholder groups are bigger than the programme teams and no-one is clear who can decide on what.
Fitness for purpose is key to governing critical programmes. We find that investing time up front in identifying the RACI components, agreeing on light yet robust reporting and communicating continuously are central to success. Regulators respond better to being briefed regularly and actively engaged than kept at arm’s length. Risk and Compliance teams can add real value up-front rather than last-minute involvement as an afterthought. Social Intelligence can quickly identify whether customers will flock to or run from a product or service change, or if it deals with one of their top concerns. This mix of tools, and the profile of our consultants’ experience across the industry puts us in a strong position to bring the best of our know-how and tailor it to our clients’ specific programme needs.
As part of the process we help clients answer key questions:
- How can I assure delivery without losing momentum?
- How can I balance the agile developer mindset with the risk-averse Operations and Risk considerations?
- How do I build stakeholder confidence in a fluid and uncertain development environment?
- Which parts of Agile methodology can I use without throwing away good programme management disciplines?
- How do I ensure cross-business communication and awareness without overcomplicating delivery?