Visualize your project. Get everyone on the same page.
What’s the problem?
Many IT projects go over budget, over time or fail to deliver anticipated benefits. Business and technical stakeholders have known this for a long time but they don’t know what to do about it.
Better communication would improve project outcomes but confused project teams don’t know how to cut through the complexity that exists even on small projects. This confusion creates Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) and keeps project managers awake at night.
Visualization forces you to simplify and focus on the essential:
- No hiding behind long Word documents that nobody wants to read
- No hiding behind specialist jargon that divides rather than unites
- No avoiding answering the important questions
Visualization provides a vehicle for better collaboration so that you can get everybody on the same page, this increases engagement and encourages more ownership of project outcomes. Less FUD means greater clarity and less risk as the whole team builds a better solution. You also get to sleep soundly at night.
Hubscope is a visualization application used by project teams to improve clarity, communication and collaboration.
Use real words
If you want to break through organisational and cultural silos then you need to avoid domain specific language. Use common terms that everybody can understand.
In Hubscope we have a very simple data model that both business people and technical people can understand and collaborate with. We like to create diagrams that people can instantly understand and work with.
Think data not pictures
It’s natural to hold back from creating and presenting a diagram that possibly isn’t correct. Instinct tells you to wait until everything is 100% certain first, but this just leads to stalemate all around. It’s far better to create something quickly, get it out there for feedback and use it as a vehicle to drive collaboration.
Hubscope makes it easy to quickly create diagrams and to change diagrams thanks to its simple interface and intelligent auto-layout functionality. It’s very easy to delete nodes and relationships or edit existing nodes and relationships in the diagram. The data is actually stored in Excel which means that’s easy to share and update by using Excel too.
Group the information
Grouping is very important in order for us to abstract and identify patterns in the information.
Hubscope uses tags so that you can group different elements in the diagram in many different ways. Here we can see tag 1 being used to identify which Sprint the requirements will be developed in and the use of the cluster feature along with expand and contract to group requirements together.
Hide the unimportant
You don’t need to be able to see all of the information all of the time. Different people will want to work with different parts of the diagram. Filtering out the stuff that they are not interested in is very important.
For example, you may be having a meeting with a business stakeholder to discuss a few things around Sprint 1. To simplify the conversation you could decide to remove requirements for sprint 2, business unit, hardware and data.
Hubscope’s filter function means that this is very easy to do.
Talk to your audience
It’s important to use business language and speak to your audience from their perspective.
Instead of starting with the solution, start your narrative by identifying the stakeholder and show that you understand their key requirements. Then show how these requirements are delivered to by specific services. Then show how these services are implemented by the technical solution.
Hubscope provides different perspectives which allow you to walk through this story as well as a feature which allows you to redraw a particular perspective from the point of view of an individual stakeholder.
Focus on key relationships
Spreadsheets are great for considering lists of things. Asset inventories, people who work in a department, the projects being managed by a PMO, etc. What they are not good at is showing relationships between things. Relationships and connections are an important part of how we think and understand the world.
Graphs with nodes and connections between nodes are the best way to visually represent relationships.
Hubscope has lots of interesting ways of looking at relationships. One thing that you can do is navigate around the graph by starting at one point and then following the connections. There is also a function that highlights all first order dependencies.