Pain without gain (ROI) or pleasure with gain (ROI).

Pain with a threatened ROI or pleasure with an improved chance of a greater ROI - which one appeals to you?

At the end of a waterfall project (or any project for that matter) the product manager or project manager will usually hold a ‘lessons learnt’ session where the participants of a project that has not gone so well discuss what went wrong with the view of improving performance on the next project. Developers and other technical team members feel put on the spot – attempting to explain, from their perspective, why the project was deemed a failure or put another way not as successfully as it could have been. The key points that ususally need to be explained, by product managers and developers, are why:
  • deadline were missed
  • budget(s) overrun or why
  • the customer wasn’t happy.

Post mortems of this kind are always uncomfortable and are a typical symptom of waterfall projects: lots of pain with out delayed gain (ROI).

The symptoms of agile are pretty much the exact opposite: short daily focussed, stand-up, meetings involving all stakeholders. Budgets (man hours) agreed up front and controlled by the product owners, sprint retrospectives designed to give business owner, product manager, and technical teams the opportunity to identify what could be done in the next sprint to improve on the previous one and the opportunity to put it into practice and evaluate with in a few weeks as opposed to many months or a few years (as is often the case under the waterfall project methodology).

From a Product & Project Mangers point of view waterfall is a long and drawn out process that may end up in a painful lessons learnt session. While agile gives short bursts of mild discomfort with the opportunity to turn the discomfort into a pleasurable experience as software gets delivered:

  • on time (time is fixed)
  • with in budget (which is under the control of the product owners) and
  • to the customer’s satisfaction (involvement in the sprint planning meetings the daily catch up meetings limits the chances of unpleasant surprises at the end of the project).

This sounds and feels like “pleasure with gain” or pleasure with increased/quicker return on investment (ROI).

For more: How do lessons learnt influence an organastion

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