Agile PLM Project Management plans address the technical and cultural changes necessary to make Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) deployment successful and accepted. In this blog, we’ll look at our top five tips for agile PLM project management and explain how to help your organization embrace a change of system.
Start by reflecting on the current state of your organization
This process helps you to estimate the readiness of your organization for change. And it may also provide insight into aspects that can hinder the rollout of a project. Common issues may arise in areas such as organizational culture, where this is failing to support the vision of the organization. Or where there are many product segments, each with their own processes to manage.
Insight into aspects such as these help to anticipate change and so we’re able to steer towards it early in the project.
Never underestimate the importance of a well-defined project vision
A vision creates clarity and forms the basis for all work within the organization. A vision that people support motivates and increases productivity. So, when a change process takes place, it’s important to know how this change contributes to the company’s vision.
Do we start a PLM process to shorten Time-To-Market and achieve a higher margin? Or will PLM structure the processes and product information so you can deliver your products efficiently and without incident?
But it’s not enough to define your vision ahead of the project. Assessing progress at crucial stages during an implementation can help your organization continue to steer toward a well-defined vision.
When we have a clear goal in mind, it’s easier to process these goals as milestones in the project. Based on these objectives, decision-making, and task prioritization are simplified. If you’ve ever experienced a project where decision making seem impossible, it was most likely due to the lack of a clear vision.
With a robust foundation in your pocket, it is time to set up the project
Project plans are often made to describe technical aspects, budget and management broadly. And we regularly see project approaches detailed by only few paragraphs.
But how do we keep project members diligent and driven? How do we make decisions without backlash? How do we involve stakeholders and keep them enthusiastic? Whatever the approach, you need to ensure transparency with a design that gives people the authority and resources to make the project successful.
Take scope changes, for example. An agile framework for a project approach (such as SCRUM) is very popular and strives for flexibility – to remain agile despite changes in the project. But does the team have the mandate to implement scope changes and deliver something other than initially agreed and budgeted? This is rarely the case.
Allow Project Managers and Product Owners to have the mandate to implement minor changes. Will a new task be added? No problem. Then the lowest prioritized task will be out of scope. Is the change so significant? Then define an alternative process for it.
Just as influence on the project creates a sense of ownership, a transparent approach also helps to generate understanding for decisions that are made. Our experience shows that agile project design ensures a positive relationship between project members and stakeholders. And that positive relationships between colleagues ensure the commitment and enthusiasm of both parties.
Progress is positive, so present it as such
To ensure that your teams embrace change at the end of a project, it’s important to keep stakeholders informed and enthusiastic throughout the project. So strive, as much as possible, to share “quick wins”.
People familiar with SCRUM will be familiar with Sprint Reviews – a periodic meeting of the project team and stakeholders to discuss progress. But a summary is not the same as discussing progress. It’s only part of it.
Explain how the completed tasks contribute to the common goals your team is aiming to achieve. Make sure that this progress is also visible to your stakeholders. This generates enthusiasm that’s communicated between colleagues and so, little by little, it helps your organization to embrace the change.
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach aims to put a solution into production as quickly as possible with the minimum necessary features. With this method, users are quickly introduced to a basic solution and brought along on the improvement journey. All the while, you’re collecting early feedback to be processed in new releases.
In this way people become more and more involved in the implementation project. An absolute must when approaching more complex implementation projects and one that pays dividends in our experience.
Whether good, bad or ugly, acting quickly on feedback is essential
Continue to gather feedback at important milestones throughout your project. If the feedback is positive, this can stimulate the project team. And it also shows that the current working method is effective. If things turn out differently, then you have invaluable input for further revision.
Criticism is much more important to the success of a project than positive reviews. A lack of criticism throughout your project can be a signal that communication is muted, or that your stakeholders are becoming passive. Try to encourage criticism as a healthy part of transparent project development.
Taking an agile approach to PLM project management means accepting that you can’t plan for every outcome. It’s about ensuring transparent engagement with users and stakeholders throughout your implementation. And working through your project in manageable, iterative steps. Allowing for movement in your project roadmap might mean that you plan for a longer journey. But, with agile roll-out and revisions, your users and stakeholders will stay invested as they see results much sooner.