Customers often ask us how we can ensure the accuracy of our project estimates and budgets. Our answer is simple – Agile.
By David Oeters, Corporate Communications with CIMx Software
The other day, I came across an online ad citing a product as the “most widely-used” in the industry, helping create “Lean benchmarks” that turn “data into action.” It sounds nice, with pretty keywords, but, to be honest, I don’t really know what any of that means.
This is the problem with much of the marketing-talk out there. I don’t care if you are “Lean-enabled” or your company is “widely-regarded” or “a leader in manufacturing technology.” I want to know what you are going to do for me if I use your product.
For example… CIMx is an Agile enterprise. Through Agile, we are more efficient, flexible, scalable, proactive and adaptable. We are a more reliable and predictable supplier because we are Agile – it’s how we can get more done with a higher quality in less time and fewer resources, but throwing out terms like “agile-enterprise” or business agility” isn’t customer-oriented, and doesn’t explain the benefit. It’s all about us, and not our customer.
Let’s take a look at what Agile means to the CIMx customer:
Introduction to Agile
An Agile enterprise embraces change to eliminate the organizational stress that paralyzes many businesses when they are forced to adapt. Using Agile, a CIMx project integrates planning and execution, allowing us to continually optimize resources and strategy during a project and adjust to changing requirements. Project requirements are broken down into small sets of focused work items (things the customer needs) that can be demonstrated and tested. This allows the team to complete requirements over a short, predictable period of time such as a few weeks within a sprint. Typically the requirements with the highest priority are tackled first. Once those requirements are met, the team meets the project stakeholder (generally the customer) to review and prioritize the next set of requirements. This method of frequent feedback and continual reassessment is the key to Agile. It eliminates surprises, misunderstandings and schedule slippages, and saves a customer a bundle of rework expenses.
The Benefits of Agile
Agile offers clear benefits over past project management techniques, which involved in-depth planning, long periods of time, and a massive set of requirements without priority. With Agile, you have:
CIMx can quickly adjust to changing project or customer needs with minimal loss of productivity or cost to the customer. The CIMx team uses the sprint to tackle the individual requirements of a larger project. The goal of the sprint is to fulfill the requirement. After each sprint, the project is re-evaluated with the customer and a new set of requirements prioritized. This gives the customer greater control over the project.
To meet customer needs on larger requirements without exploding the budget or wasting the customer’s money, CIMx uses Agile to shift resources to a priority, then move them to other projects once the requirement is complete. In Agile, planning parallels execution, making it much easier to adequately estimate the resources necessary to meet a requirement. With planning tied so closely to each phase of execution, customers can be sure the adequate and necessary resources are applied to each phase, keeping the project on schedule without wasting the budget, overcharging the customer, or having the project explode into complexity.
CIMx uses Agile to complete projects on-time and on-budget without the huge teams and massive service charges you find while working with other software vendors. With many failed projects, problems only appear late, when any solution requires massive cost and schedule overruns. Agile provides customers continual project updates, and the project team constant feedback. Problems can be discovered and solved early, before they impact the schedule or budget. The work done is always focused on the customer’s highest priority. Since the project goals are continually being evaluated, everyone on the team stays focused on serving the customer to the best of their ability.
For CIMx, the greatest benefit of Agile may be eliminating project uncertainty and ensuring we all have the resources and support we need to do our job efficiently. Rather than grappling with an overly complex project without clear direction or an adequate plan, we focus on manageable tasks that continually make progress toward the overall project goal. Receiving continual feedback from the project manager and customer ensures we are on target and everyone is working toward the same goal.
Okay, I may be falling into “market-speak,” but operating as an Agile enterprise is a clear benefit for our customers. They often ask how we can offer such realistic schedules and deliver projects with efficient teams and lower cost, and the answer is Agile.