Breaking Down the Version 2 Barrier

Scott Francis
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In a recent post, the Case Against Window Dressing, I pointed out that a process can be deployed with nearly all the integrations scheduled for version 2, and that window dressing should be kept out of the project in the first version.  Sandy Kemsley pointed out:
Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with an enterprise that insists on having everything in V1 because they usually don’t get a V2, it will be hard to break the pattern of over-building.
She’s right.  Its hard. Here are a few coping tactics to get you past the Version 2 Barrier:
  1. First, admit you have a problem.  Take an honest self-appraisal of your organization and make sure you understand whether you’re organization is going to either have trouble buying into a multiple-release approach, or whether they’ll have trouble believing it will really happen.
  2. Try to line up organizational support and funding for more than one version up front.  Don’t wait until version 1 is on the verge of deploying to look for budget for version 2!  You have to line up the support early.  In order to get the support, you need to be willing to accept conditions, such as showing a certain ROI or meeting certain budget constraints for version 1.  If you don’t line up the budget for 2 versions…. Break your release into two versions anyway, within the approved budget.  Find a subset of the process that garners ROI without using up all of your budget.
  3. Show incremental releases that don’t go to production.  The point of this exercise is to show progress to your stakeholders.  Get the business used to seeing interim progress during your project.  Get IT used to being accountable for proving progress throughout the project and not just using status reports to do it.  Don’t show anything fake.
  4. Next, get the business involved in prioritizing what goes in and out of the next incremental release.  The incremental releases are your chance to get prioritization input from the business while the project is still in flight.  That’s important when you’re working on a fixed budget.
  5. Finally, live up to the commitment you have made to get started on V2 right away.  Or even before V1 ships, if you really want to send the right message.  Don’t put the team on hiatus for three months.  Get started.  Odds are that there are a set of ideas that did not make the cut for V1 but that have obvious appeal or ROI.  Get started working on those right away.
No doubt, it takes leadership to accomplish these things, but is it too much to ask to expect leadership to support a vision beyond a single roll-out of a process?