How workshops guarantee the success of a project ?
The development of a computer application (or several applications) cross-sectional to different departments of a company, require to establish a solid foundation of knowledge, in terms of the existing business. To build such a foundation, it is necessary to organize functional workshops or workshops with all the professions involved in the IT project.
Let’s take the example of a telecom operator, who wants to redesign its CRM and its billing system. This project will simultaneously make an impact on several departments: direct sales, indirect sales, billing, customer relationship management, marketing, etc.
1. Before the workshop
Above all, the project sponsor will issue a call for tenders and draw up specifications describing the objectives and expectations of the IT project. The functional architecture target can be described in this document. The points which are open for discussion, shall also be listed and transparent.
The selected IT sub-contractor must clear the field and define the scope of the IT project. To do this, he shall “question” each department or group of users, involved in the project.
2. What is the objective of a workshop?
The objective of a workshop is to collect material from the end users. Here is a non-exhaustive list of points, to discuss with each department:
• The targeted business goals
• Impact on the short, medium and long term for final users
• Description of working scenarios and the usage of existing computer software, step by step
• Workflows and validation processes
• Existing functionalities to preserve
• Existing functionalities to erase
• New functions to develop
The functional perimeter is thus very precisely defined, and the risks related to the unforeseen events are greatly reduced.
3. How to prepare a functional workshop ?
Depending on the needs of the project and the number of departments impacted, the schedule of the workshops can extend over several months. Initially, it is necessary to establish a schedule for workshops: prioritize the departments with which the workshops must be carried out, first. Detect and contact the people who will provide added value to the understanding of the needs and who will have to be present at the workshops.Generally speaking the heads of each department are invited. We must also invite operational and responsible employees, who regularly use the applications. This is a question of recovering the feedback of these users, essential material for the design of future scenarios of use and IT developments.
Depending on the needs of the project and the number of departments which are impacted, the schedule of the workshops can extend over several months.
4. What happens during a workshop?
A workshop takes place in the following manner:
• Every member around the table presents themselves
• The goal of the workshop is expressed, (IT service provider)
• Macro and Micro department goals are detailed, (IT service provider)
• Integrations with other IT software or exterior of the IT system of the company are described (client)
• Each scenario of usage is described by the person who is best at it (client).
• Encountered difficulties and obstacles are addressed, (client)
• Desired improvements are also evoked (client)
5. How to transcribe and synthesize all the material collected during the workshop?
During a workshop, a lot of information is proliferated and spurted out. Therefore, it may be difficult to synthesize if one isn’t organized. Here’s a way to do it: for each process that is described, realize a business process flow that shall detail the flow stages (cf Example of a business process flow, below). Also known as outlining a business process.
In addition to this diagram, add a table that shall detail each step of the business process flow, in great detail.
Categorize the business process flow as follows:
• Description of all the business processes concerning the existing one (the provider needs to have understood the existing user paths, transition from online to offline and the objectives he wishes to achieve),
• Achieve all the business targeted processes (the one which need to be developed, the ones that are expected when all the developments are over).
• Add the realization of the following architectures to get a macroscopic view on the IT system of the company.
• Existing technical architecture of platforms and interfacing solutions
• Technical architecture targeted with interfacing.
This makes it possible to distinguish and define what is outside the initially defined scope. This list of “unscheduled” features shall be kept for future evolutions.
To help you better organize your document, please find an example below, of a summary that you could use
• Aim and scope,
• Platforms and systems concerned (table presenting the systems concerned, in a general manner),
• Broadcast list (to which people shall the document be released),
• Definitions and acronyms (definitions and acronyms described in the document),
• RAID Analyze: Risks – Assumptions – Issues – Dependencies,
• For each module to be developed and delivered: describe the expected functionalities from a macro viewpoint, then from a micro viewpoint, describe the desired cases of use, illustrated with the business processes and a table describing each step, (this part will be the basic material of detailed functional specifications)
• Each requirement must have an identification number so that none are forgotten.
• Existing technical architecture,
• Targeted technical architecture,
• Description of all the interfacings and the technical systems that are used.
Then share this document with each department that was consulted during the functional workshops. They will make adjustments and give the final validation. It is on this basis, that a retro-panning of the IT project which covers the entire scope, can be given by an IT service provider.
Complementary partners to support the ISDs in the realization of their IT projects
Maltem Consulting Group accompanies its customers during the functional workshop phases. The group has several expert and senior functional analyst consultants in various sectors: banking, insurance, energy industry, e-commerce, media, retail, finance etc. Bocasay brings its expertise in computer development. With a large pool of developers in Vietnam and Madagascar, Bocasay offers its customers a team of developers working under the aegis of proven methods such as Scrum and Continuous Integration.
WORKSHOP PERIODS ARE VERY BENEFICIAL FOR LARGE COMPUTER PROJECTS. THESE PERIODS CAN LAST WEEKS OR MONTHS AND POSITION PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES IN A GOOD MATURITY OF REFLECTION WITH RESPECT TO SOFTWARE DESIGN. EXCHANGES DURING WORKSHOPS ARE ENRICHING AND GIVE RISE TO INCONSISTENCIES AND GUARANTEE FEATURES WHICH SHALL BE USED IN THE PRODUCTION BY USERS AND ALL THIS, WITHOUT WRITING A SINGLE LINE OF CODE.