How do I take my complex project from concept to business sign-off?

You’ve been asked to get a project written up and to the board as soon as possible. No matter which way you look at it though the project concept seems exceptionally complex, the scope is ill defined, the technology seems cutting edge and, to top it all off, you have limited internal resources with either the time or expertise to implement the project.

What initially seemed like a challenging opportunity now seems like a poison chalice. Have confidence though, there is a way to attack this type of project systematically by drawing from the latest thinking in Agile Project Management.

Appropriate business due diligence requires that project submissions have a certain level of accuracy in order to determine the Return On Investment (ROI), usually this accuracy should be in the +/-10% range. The submission must also satisfy the competing tensions of minimising the investment while maximising the capability and profitability, as shown below.

The amount of effort and resource required to define this Minimum Marketable Project is substantial, particularly for a complex project.

Minimum Marketable Project Diagram

Finding this sweet spot is a process of discovery, an iterative process involving knowledge creation and collaboration between specialist individuals and work groups.

This process involves coming up with a series of options and, for each option, deciding whether it is capable of delivering the capability and profitability assumed by the original concept. Multiple options must usually be assessed using a trade off curve, as shown below.

Trade Off Curve Diagram

The challenge is to come up with an approach that makes this process of knowledge creation as efficient as possible while encouraging all of the communication, ad-hoc collaboration and goodwill that needs to take place to achieve a robust scope.

Luckily, the software development industry has come up with a system called Agile Project Management which helps to create order out of chaos while focusing on the needs of the customers both internal and external.