The common practice of starting with requirements leads to the common complaint that requirements change, we don't know what we want yet, our users aren't very good at defining requirements so we'll let them emerge. While these are common, they are usually a symptom of a missing piece of information.
We don't know what capabilities are needed and what is the Concept of Operations that those capabilities will implement, the project as likely failed before it starts. If we do know the Capabilities and the Concept of Operations, we can then measure progress of our work effort, not in the passage or time, consumption of resources (including money), or the production of stories or story points (which are unit-less and therefore pretty much meaningless to those paying the our work), but in Measures of Effectiveness, Measures of Performance, and Technical Performance Measures..
Concept of Operations
Let's start with a formal defininton of the Concept of Operations
What this tells us is that we need to start with what DONE looks like. DONE is not a set of features. DONE is not stories or story points. DONE is not modules, databases, bent metal. DONE is the ability, the capability to do something of value in echnage for the money we've spent.
The assessment of a capability is it's Measure of Effectiveness. These are operational measures of success that are closely related to the achievements of the mission or operational objectives evaluated in the operational environment, under a specific set of conditions. We need to define these upfront. The Measures of Effectiveness:
- Are stated in units meaningful to the buyer,
- Focus on capabilities independent of any technical implementation,
- Are connected to the mission success or fulfillment of the business case
They are not emergement. They are descriptions of success. When we treat them as emergent, our project is chasing a moving target and is headed to the ditch.
Next are Measures of Performance. They characterize physical or functional attributes relating to the system operation, measured or estimated under specific conditions. The Measures of Performance are:
- Attributes that assure the system has the capability and capacity to perform,
- Assessment of the system to assure it meets design requirements to satisfy the MoE.
Next comes the Technical Performance Measures. These are attributes that determine how well a system or system element is satisfying or expected to satisfy a technical requirement or goal. The Technical Performance Measures:
- Assess design progress,
- Define compliance to performance requirements,
- Identify technical risk,
- Are limited to critical thresholds,
- Include projected performance.
Notice we have not mentioned coding, development methods like Scrum or XP, teams, paired programming of anything to so with building code. With these items in place, all those activities have no reason for being, other than to consume money and pass time. None of those items having anything with moving the project toward DONE, other spend money and pass time. Oh, you'll get a pile of stories implemented. Are they the right stories? How would you know. You'll perform lots of Test Driven Design. Is is the right design. How would you know?
Oh your customer is going to prioritize those stories and features. How are they going to know in the absence of knowing what DONE looks like.
Capabilities Based Planning
This has been presentde before, but now it has a reason - the Concept of Operations.
- What's the value at risk?
- What are the critical success factors for the project?
- What information do we need to assess our progress to plan. We have a plan right. A strategy for showing up on or near the planned need date ar or near the planned cost.
- What is going to prevent this project from being successful and what are we going to do about those things before they impact our success?
- How are we going to measure physical percent complete from our work effort?
We Know the Answer To That Rights?
- Measures of Effectiveness
- Measures of Performance
- Technical Performance Measures
- Passage of time
- Consumption of money
- Production of features
- Absorption of hours of labor