Plan to be Awesome

May 05, 2017

Denise Beachley, Chief Program Evangelist | Kingsmen Key

Countless hours of research, test driving, kicking the tires… and you’re ready to buy that new car.

Viewing house plans, driving around with a realtor, taking pictures of so many kitchens just to keep them straight… and you’re ready to put that down payment on the perfect house.

Finding the right venue, tasting several cakes, agreeing on a photographer and you’re ready to walk down the aisle.

Often when it comes to growing software, we set the wedding date before we’ve met our soulmate.

I was born to be a planner. I started my career as a math teacher and lesson plans were imperative to deliver a good course.

I shifted my career slightly to teaching adults how to use a computer …and a whole new level of planning was required to be able to answer the questions I never thought I’d get.

Then, a few other career changes where I used my innate planning skills (developer, managing a development team and managing projects).

I was used to being able to manage my own content. I grew frustrated with being given a delivery date for “full functionality” when the team I managed wasn’t told what full functionality actually was.

Along came an opportunity to do things differently…in an agile manner. I became part of a delivery team that included both business and technology teams collaborating on what would be delivered. Releases are planned with an overall understanding of the vision; what is minimally viable and what additional functionality could be released in quick succession. This is awesome!

The team is comprised of business product owners, business analysts, developers and quality analysts – all working and talking with each other about the vision for the product. With this collaboration, groups who normally threw work over the wall at each other are now talking about what is being requested (business) and how it will be delivered (technology).

The work is delivered incrementally, in two week iterations, allowing the business to see their vision as it grows. The team tests and accepts the completed work together – agreeing on its completeness. The first release of the software is what has been identified as minimally viable so the team only planned and developed what is necessary.

While I strive for perfection and am able to achieve it (nearly) in my own planning, I realized the plan for software delivery teams doesn’t have to be perfect. When working with other teams and so many variables, planning simply has to be good enough to move forward. What makes all the difference is knowing that the plan can and will shift as we go. We just had to be working on the most important things first and finish one thing before we start another.

As we focused on changing the way the team grows software, we didn’t lose sight of the need to change how work is fed to them. Planning is done at all levels of an organization. With an Operating Committee in place to guide the priorities, we are sure the team is working on the right things at the right time. The team can deliver a set amount of work over a given time period so the Operating Committee has to develop their 1 through n list of features to be delivered. We’ll dive more into this next.

I’m excited to head the Kingsmen Key™ advisory practice, focused on planning and refinement. We “plan to be awesome” every day at Kingsmen. I get to share the positives of planning with organizations who are looking for a new way to operate. We know it works…our internal software delivery teams operate in this manner… or in our words, “we drink what we brew”.

About Kingsmen Software

Kingsmen Software is a software development company that crafts high-quality software products and empowers their clients to do the same. Their exclusive approach, The Kingsmen Way, combines processes, tooling, automation, and frameworks to enable scalability, efficiency, and business agility. Kingsmen’s craftsmen can be found collaborating in the historic Camden Cotton Mill at the corner of 5th and Graham in Charlotte, NC.

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