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The power of collaboration

Aniel Balradj, 15 december 2021

Implementing software is not just setting it up and going live. It requires collaboration in defining requirements, prioritization and decision making. In order to properly express the power of cooperation, I will list a number of questions and examples.

Collaborate with the customer

Always start with a few simple questions. Even though they might feel a little unnatural, it will help in making sure you focus on the correct topics in a later stage. For instance…

To get these questions answered, you will have to talk to stakeholders and end-users.

In order to find out exactly what is needed, it is essential to enter into a dialogue or (even better, ) work together with the business. They can map out the daily challenges like no other. Based on this, we jointly determine the requirements. These requirements help us to set up our system according to the wishes and needs of the business.

Challenges while collaborating with the customer

There are a number of things that come to the fore when working with the business. An example is the “nice to have” requirements from the business. It is important to identify them in an early stage, so you can value them properly when implementing. The most important thing is to think about the minimum required to be able to perform the work. In such situations it is important to work together with the product owner/process owner who can help you determine Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and Non-MVP requirements. “Nice to have” requirements are still relevant though, because in some cases this can become the cherry on top of the pie. These might make the software more attractive and help get the software more appealing. As these are nice to have, they usually end up in the backlog in the first place. Do keep them in mind, as they might come in handy later.

It also happens that because of other responsibilities people are less willing to work together, and as a result sometimes do not even make decisions. In such cases it is good to start the conversation. By discussing it with each other you can better understand why someone does not want to make a decision. This way you can also indicate why it is important for you and the organization to decide. What could be the possible consequences of not taking a decision and so you can also discuss alternative solutions with each other to reach a decision.

Leveling with the team

When working on an implementation project in a team, every person is different, thinks differently, performs his or her work differently, speaks differently and so on. It’s good to level up with eachother. Make sure the context is clear and verify often if all is understood. With people from different backgrounds (IT, management, endusers), misunderstanding eachother is more likely than understanding eachother.

Look at what individuals can or cannot do, so that you can divide work in a targeted manner so that this all will do something that is recognizable and feasible. Do challenge the team members to develop and learn though. By working together in this way, you are immediately involved in leveling, thinking along and in this way you also help someone with his or her development.

Managing expectations

Expectation management is an important success factor. Let’s take the business for example. The business might expect a project to be completed within 3 months, as they don’t know what needs to be done and how many dependencies there are to make the solution really work as a solution. Show the customer what you are working on, what you encounter, why things can or cannot be done. By discussing such situations, you can provide good insight into why an implementation process has a certain lead time.

In my opinion, this is one of the most important forms of collaboration within an implementation process.

Supporting colleagues – Configuration issues

When implementing a solution, you might run into issues or you need to shape the solution where multiple options are available. In such cases I usually rely on my co-workers. Even though it might not be their expertise, explaining the situation, the context and the available options often clears the way to make a better decision or to figure out how to solve the issue. Discussing the subject also allows you to get up to speed together in a later stage.

SCRUM

The SCRUM methodology really helps in such implementation processes. Adressing subjects and issues in the daily stand-up allows the project team to have a joint understanding of the goals, the challenges and the context and allows quick decision making. It also improves the sense of ownership and responsibility as a team.

Collaboration is the key to success!

Aniel Balradj

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