This content originally appeared in TDWI. TDWI members can see the original here.
With so many teams “going agile,” it’s important for your BI team to keep a few things in mind that will help your agile transformation go more smoothly. This series, “10 Mistakes to Avoid In an Agile BI Transformation”, will show you how to prevent the most common pitfalls I’ve encountered in my experience as an Agile Coach.
When we run more than one project at a time, our customers experience long delays between when they request a project and when they get the value of it. Somehow, though, it’s common for BI leaders to think the way to keep customers happy is to start each project as soon as possible. Sure, it feels good to tell an executive sponsor, “We’ll get right on that!” However, does that good feeling last through months of status reports and business frustration? Sure, it feels good to tell all five executive sponsors their projects have started, but how does it feel when each consistently pressures the BI team to make his or her project the top priority?
The benefit of a team working one, and only one, project to completion before taking up the next project is not only a reduction in task switching (as mentioned in the previous post) but also a reduction in project lead time. Lead time represents the customer’s experience between when they request a project and when they receive the finished value. With a reduction in task switching and waste, each project completes sooner.
For example, let’s say you have four projects to deliver in a year, and based on your traditional estimates you believe the team can complete all four this year if they run in parallel. Three of the projects are expected to go live by the end of Q3, and the fourth will deliver by the end of the year. Rather than starting them all at once, why not start the highest priority project and complete it in Q1, thereby delivering its value much sooner. Move on to the second priority and deliver that in Q2, a quarter early. Then tackle the third project in Q3 and finish with the fourth project in Q4—both right on time. If you believe you can complete all four in parallel, and you understand that task switching reduces effectiveness, then logically, working projects one at a time will reduce risk and deliver many of the projects sooner than the parallel approach.