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23

Jul

Delivering quality: methodology

Why you need one, what it might look like, where you should start, and what you need to do for it to do what it’s supposed to.

Delivering quality business solutions within and across a variety of organisations requires a repeatable robust process. Any methodology requires buy-in from the team(s) working to deliver the solutions.

Quality management is a key factor to be considered when defining or refining a methodology. Review checkpoints should be identified as part of the methodology (e.g. project management office (PMO) review, solution review undertaken by the solution lead or peers) to ensure that best practices are followed and quality solutions are produced.

 

Why do we need a methodology?

A methodology provides structure and a common approach to delivering successful projects and solutions. As an organisation grows there is more risk of individuals working to their own standards and best practices that may not be widely communicated.

A “home brew” scenario is where each individual involved in a project may have their own approach and best practices that are not clearly communicated to other members of their team. This leads to inconsistency and a lack of understanding as to the roles, responsibilities and deliverables that support the successful delivery of the solution.

 

Why do we need a methodology?

 

Where the methodology and approach are unclear an element of risk is added that requires mitigation. This can be seen when new team members join the project team and they are unsure of their role or their role deviates from the role they generally perform within a project.

Even with the best of intentions, best practices that are not clearly communicated become one person’s view of the world rather than shared and repeatable by others within the organisation. Everyone on the project team may be working towards a common goal, however misunderstandings and misconceptions can arise when everyone is not on the same page throughout the project.

 

Who defines the methodology?

The initial draft of the methodology may sit best with an experienced analyst who has sufficient knowledge and experience to understand the:

  • System development life cycle (SDLC)
  • Project management approach
  • Project delivery life cycle
  • Solution platforms
  • Types of solutions to be delivered
  • Culture within the organisation – the organisation responsible for the delivery and the organisation that will use the solution
  • Scale of solutions/projects to be delivered

 

What constitutes a methodology?

A methodology is aimed at a higher level repeatable process and best practices. A solution delivery methodology needs to address each phase of a project. These phases need to be clearly identified and cover the solution delivery lifecycle from initiation through to closure. Elements of the methodology should include:

»      Key activities

  • High level tasks

»      Key deliverables

  • Project management deliverables
  • Solution deliverables
  • Optional deliverables

»      Roles and responsibilities aligned to each of these roles

»      Quality management – how do we measure the quality of each deliverable

 

Thinking of developing a methodology?

There are many common methodologies you can use as a starting point and tweak to support your specific organisation, culture, people, processes and best practices.

When starting to develop a methodology (or tweak an existing methodology) think about why you’ve decided that a methodology is required. Who should be involved in developing the methodology? A methodology will only be successfully adopted if there is buy-in from the senior management through to the people involved in the delivery. The methodology needs to provide a good foundation but also provide flexibility with optional deliverables as one size may not fit all situations.

Where to begin? Below is an example of a table that could be used as a starting point. Start by identifying key activities across each phase of the project lifecycle and then make an assessment as to whether it is in fact an activity or a deliverable or task. Identify optional elements simply by using an asterisk (*) to mark them as optional.

 

Thinking of developing a methodology?

 

Identify roles and responsibilities for each phase of the project and for each activity and deliverable.

 

Roles and responsibilities for the project

 

All stakeholders should have a clear understanding of why the methodology has been developed and what it aims to achieve. Promote the methodology as a guide for best practices. Prior to publishing the methodology, move the tasks into a more detail-focused document. By doing this people are more able to focus on the key activities and deliverables for the methodology. It also gives the opportunity to provide additional detail regarding each task and the best practices for achieving the task.

 

How to measure quality and consistency?

An assessment needs to be made as to the level of detail that is covered in the methodology.

  • What should be presented as a high level overview of the methodology?
  • What tasks can be covered in supporting best practice documentation for each activity?

Run through scenarios to ensure that the methodology presents a robust foundation for the delivery of the wide variety of solutions and interactions within the solution delivery life cycle.

 

Key thoughts to take away

A methodology is successful when it is accepted by stakeholders as the foundation for best practice approach. If it is only one person’s view of the world and doesn’t have buy-in from stakeholders then it will not be adopted. Each team members should be clear as to their roles, responsibilities and deliverables and where they fit within the overall delivery of success solutions.

One size and one approach may not fit all types of projects (each project presents its own set of challenges, success factors and may require an adapted approach). The methodology should be robust enough to support this need for flexibility.

Developing a methodology requires skills, experience and a detailed understanding of the organisation, solutions to be delivered and an understanding of what contributes to and constitutes successful project and solution delivery.

 

 

Posted by: Bernardine Slagter, Developer Consultant | 23 July 2013

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