Dispatch Integration’s project management philosophy is built on our DIVE methodology, which is an acronym for Discover, Innovate, Validate, and Empower. In the first of a 4-part series, we discussed the Discovery phase. Part-2 of this series takes us into the world of Innovation, where the needs of the customer come to life.
In the Innovation phase, our highly skilled resources put their craft to the test by developing code that allows integrations to come to fruition. We execute this phase through a Hybrid-Agile methodology using Azure DevOps for project management. Success is achieved by using frequent Scrums, as well as product demos, to keep our clients up to date on the progress being made by the development team.
Scrum is an effective way of managing the development of the Agile Innovation phase because it allows the instantaneous transfer of knowledge from the developers to the Scrum Master – as well as directly to the client. This frequent communication method facilitates open dialogue between all team members and our clients regarding project status, functionality, features, and performance. Often, we find that requirements are refined in the development phase, despite rigorous attention to requirements in the Discovery Phase, because when clients can actually see something working, they are better able to envision how it would work in their day-to-day roles. This is not a bug in the Agile method; it’s a feature that helps ensure what’s built is precisely what’s needed.
Scrum methodology and Agile project management within the software development lifecycle isn’t a new practice by any means. It’s actually been around for two decades. As such, the key ingredient that differentiates Dispatch from others is continuous active engagement, especially by our developers.
Let’s expand: we often work with clients who find it difficult to envision the finished product. After all, integrations can get quite complex. In an instance where the client does not possess a wide breadth of knowledge in an application as intricate as Workday, they may request requirements that are not technically prudent or feasible. However, with our developers in frequent contact with the client, we can offer transparency into how the systems work and what kinds of limitations or trade-offs certain design decisions may entail. This experience and knowledge can save clients thousands of dollars when they are steered away from expensive undertakings that provide minimal payoff.
Integration projects differ from many other development projects due to the number of stakeholders who are often involved in the visioning and planning process that goes into an integration. Articulating the needs of the business from all aspects upfront is often a difficult task: integrations are comprised of many different flows that are tricky to envision working in unison. Fortunately, Dispatch developers are not limited to coding knowledge and have enough breadth of experience to share advice and expertise regarding business process flows. This consultative approach reduces the number of filters between the clients and the resources that are building the integration.
Demos provide the client insight into how the build is progressing and allows clients to have frequent opportunities to make tweaks and amendments before the finished product, in this case, integration, is ready for production. This helps to avoid surprises on both sides; frequent looks into the progress, in small increments, ensure we are not drifting away from expectations. During demos, we take the input and feedback a client provides and make necessary changes in the next sprint. This is why the agile approach is so important, as it ensures a speedy turnaround to meet client expectations.
Within the Innovation phase, our team not only develops integrations, but also pairs the integration build with operational documentation, refined and detailed design documentation, and completed failure modes and effects analysis. To ensure that development work is executed with the highest degree of quality, we maintain peer-reviewed development artifacts in a configuration management database such as a source code repository. During this phase, Dispatch project managers also diligently track project budget burndown and provide progressive statistics to our clients every week.
Part 3 of the DIVE methodology series will discuss Validation and how it includes a full suite of integration tests, system tests, smoke tests, regression tests, and user acceptance tests.
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Dispatch Integration is a software development and professional services firm that develops, delivers, and manages advanced data integration and workflow automation solutions. We exist to help organizations effectively deal with the complex and ever-changing need to integrate data and optimize end to end workflows between cloud-based, mission-critical applications.
Read More from Dispatch Integration
DIVE IN – Integration Project Management: Part 1
The Role of Project Managers in Software Integration Projects
The Role of a Business Analyst in an Integration Project
Stephen Fontana is a seasoned Project Manager with experience in managing projects for international financial services institutions. He specializes in the software development life cycle and Scrum/Agile Methodology.