Category Archives: Agile

Project Management tool for SaaS implementation projects

Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are mainly implemented using Agile Project Implementation Methodologies. As you can get access to your new hosted solution in the Cloud from day 1 when you become a new Client there is no need to wait for weeks before you can start using, configuring or testing your new solution. That’s a very big change compared to the on-premise solutions.

Configuring and testing is much easier as well than what we have seen on on-premise solutions. This means that we can engage the project team and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) into Design workshops in which we simply change some options and can quickly demonstrate the effects of this changes.This is not always true for all Design changes but the intent is to perform such interactive changes.

SaaS implementation changes: Prototyping + Collaboration

For SaaS solutions we will Design so-called Prototypes and iteratively do 3 Prototypes. Each changes that requires some more configuration time and effort will be done after the workshops.

Agile Methodology is the best option for managing Iterative integration projects.

This said, we cannot afford a project to not deliver on time and with expected scope and quality. It is still required (and even more then with on-premise solutions) to build a project plan with activities, tasks, assignees, dates, dependencies, costs…

But the big change here is linked to the iterations. Usually you build a Prototype “0” with some very high levels options and 3 series of workshop which deliver the work product which include the requirements and changes gathered and agreed within the workshop.

The initial Blueprint is lighter than what we were accustomed with the on-premise solutions. Changes after the SaaS Blueprint or Design document will be gathered in a Design Changes Document (DCD) usually a list of changes and decisions maintained in Excel.

Another big change in SaaS implementation is linked to the fact the end user always have the capability to follow-up and test the progress of its configuration in between the 3 series of Prototypes.

In other words you can easily collaborate with all team members and therefore co-construct your final solution.

Traditional vs. Agile implementation methodology

I think the best way to present you the differences between the traditional (or the so-called Waterfall approach) and the iterative Agile approach is to use 2 schematics:

The Waterfall approach

traditional-waterfall-development 3

The iterative Agile approach

scrum-iteration-detail 2Agile approach allows to start configuring earlier than Waterfall approach. So rather than delivering a huge change at the end of the project Agile iterative upgrades and avoid the “Technical debt“:

Compare waterfall to agile

So what does this mean from a Project Management point of view?

Building 3 Prototypes from a light Design Document in a collaborative organization means that you don’t know in advance all the Design Changes that will be required and therefore it is impossible to list all details tasks in advance and estimate the effort required.

Being a Project Manager my first reaction would be: THIS IS HIGH RISK!

But here is where a new approach of Project Management Methodology needs to be introduced. This is the case with LiquidPlanner PM tool.

I won’t explain here all the benefits of using this tool but just focus on 2 features.

LiquidPlanner: Estimating in Ranges

The set of ranged estimates in your project provides the data LiquidPlanner uses to statistically determine all of the possible schedule outcomes. This data appears on schedule bars in the Schedule tab.

Estimating-in-ranges-screenshot

Estimating in realistic ranges is one of the single best and easiest things you can do to improve your project outcomes.

Ranged estimation will change your team’s perspective on work and scheduling and move conversations from uncomfortable negotiations to open and honest dialogue about requirements and ways to work together constructively to get rid of uncertainty.

LiquidPlanner sees each range as a bell curve and uses it to calculate an expected completion date.

basic-probability

LiquidPlanner: Collaboration

Collaboration 2

Connected conversation threads

All conversations in LiquidPlanner are connected to tasks, because collaboration is more useful in context. Your homepage displays recent conversations grouped by tasks so you can keep up to date with what’s going on with your team.

Seamless file-sharing

You can upload and easily share virtually any type of file in your LiquidPlanner workspace. Photos, documents and PDFs can be uploaded from your hard-drive or popular third-party cloud storage service like Dropbox, Box and Google. Files are always attached to a plan item, meaning less time scouring through email to find what you’re looking for.

Email + calendar integration

Create tasks in seconds by simply sending email to your LiquidPlanner inbox, and reply to comments directly from email (your replies are captured automatically in LiquidPlanner). View tasks in your Outlook or Google calendar to keep on top of commitments and changing priorities.

More information and references: