By default IT projects will fail. They may still launch but not accomplish any one of the following requirements of a successful project: on time, within budget, with happy users.
Gizra addresses this by defining the ambiguous with the simple but powerful principle that the budget dictates the project. It all begins (and ends) at the price estimation. Our budget breakdown creates a common language for all stakeholders and sets expectations early on.
After a discovery phase, the project is broken down to timeboxed tasks - each with a clear deadline and cost to produce the deliverable. We set the maximum time to complete a task at 12 hours because this number is easily grasped by all stakeholders. Every feature and bug has a price tag and we encourage our clients not to try to buy them all (at least not at first).
An example of our budget breakdown:
The awareness of time increases productivity. Deliverables and deadline expectations are clear and the risk of scope creep and over engineering (the enemy of good is perfect) is mitigated. Awareness of cost encourages thinking about value - does it make sense for our clients to pay this much for this task?
In the rare case that a task exceeds the timebox, a review process is triggered to identify the cause and is quickly remedied. Identifying an issue - such as a wrong estimate, design problems, lack of understanding of a task, or missing critical information - at the task level, before it compounds, ensures a low cost of mistakes.
Determining success at the task level - was the task completed on time and in budget - provides a real-time measurement of success. At any stage of the project we have a measurable way to identify where we stand and how aligned we are with the set expectations.
In the case of lean demonstrations of a product idea (Proof-of-Concept, Prototype, Minimal Viable Product) the scope is not yet defined so the uncertainty and inherent risk can be immediately addressed by first timeboxing at the project-wide level. Web based product ideas can be successfully demonstrated within 3-4 months of development and with 1-3 developers which is easily translated into a budget range. With this anchor, clients can move forward confidently with the project.
The beauty of this budget driven approach is that it works for most type and size projects. Gizra has found this to be an invaluable premise in our efforts to execute successful projects.