Going Beyond The Waterfall by joint authors Barbara Davis and Darren Radford will be familiar territory for those in the Information Technology (IT) sector, i.e., people such as chief information officers, project managers and leaders, consulting firms and business analysts, architects and developers. The focus of the book is on managing "scope" as a multi complex construct that necessitates a basic premise that scope is flexible like any of the other major components of project management. For those not heavily engaged in the IT sector, and software development in particular, this will likely be less familiar ground and something of a hurdle to cross. Nevertheless, the contents of the book contain some valuable insights in how to approach and manage complex projects from the outset.
As the authors say in their Preface:
"In the past, the scope of a project was a clearly defined set of objectives, tangible goals, and high-level features designed to solve a particular problem or create some vehicle for enabling strategy. It was fixed and rigid, and considered immovable. The concept of scope as unchangeable is very much like staying on course even when a road gets washed away or a blizzard interferes with the trip."
"Therefore, scope must change as the business goals, drivers, and conditions change. The reality is that scope must also change as the project progresses, for the mere fact that the project starts with unclear information and a high lack of clarity and moves towards an increasing level of certainty and clarity."
Strong words indeed! True, that may be the present "reality", but perhaps with time, better understanding and education we can change that "reality" in the first place. Meantime, the authors suggest that:
"The strongest takeaways [from the book] can be found in the answers to each of these questions:
- Are we doing the right things, and are we doing them right?
- What tasks and activities impact scope at the microscopic level?
- How can project teams, business stakeholders, and user groups ensure that everything they do will help them achieve targeted outcomes?"
Well, we know the answer to the first question. It is only by doing some things that prove to be wrong, and also by doing them wrong can we learn which is right and how to do them. Well, if not "right", then certainly how to do them better the next time.
About the authors
Barbara Davis has held various titles and roles including Business and IT Portfolio Management, IT Operational Management, Methodologist, Solutions Consultant, Project Manager, Business Analyst, and Professional Skills Trainer. Her experience also includes organizational change management, document change management, and auditing PMO methodologies. Barbara is an international speaker, and author of Managing Business Analysis: A Framework for Sustainable Projects and Corporate Strategy Success. Her articles have been published in Strategize Magazine.
Darren Radford is President and CEO Aspire, Ltd., a management-consulting firm in Vancouver, Canada. He holds an LL.B (Hons) Law Degree, a Master of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Henley Management College, Oxford, UK. He also holds PMP, PRINCE2 and DSDM-Agile credentials. He has worked for the BC Provincial Health Services Authority, Boeing, Boeing Canada-AeroInfo, Vancity, and the Wideman Education Foundation (WEF). His specialties are Business Strategy; Adaptive Capacity Development; Business Transformation; Portfolio Management; Program Management, and Governance.
1. Davis, Barbara, & Darren Radford, Going Beyond The Waterfall J. Ross Publishing, 2014, pp xii-xiii
2. Ibid, p xi
3. Ibid, p xv
4. Davis, Barbara, Managing Business Analysis, J. Ross Publishing, 2013