One of the more valuable aspects of the Lean-Agile approach is the increased feedback from customers earlier in the process. Every two weeks, we have a meeting with the customer that demonstrates the courseware increment. Every two weeks, the development team hears concerns by the stakeholders in the review/demo meeting. That feedback can be applied to the next two-week iteration. We try to get all the decision makers involved in the demos every two weeks.
Some buyers/customers initially worry that iteration reviews add additional cycles of time to their reviewers. Then after going through the process a couple of times, they end up liking it. We have also seen a reduction in the number of end-of-development change requests (CRs) because the buyer’s stakeholders have been able to voice their issues early, and the development team fixed it early.
This increased collaboration with the customer stakeholders helps the customer trust that the courseware is coming along, and helps the development team see what the customer likes and what they want changed. We have experienced discussions where the SMEs disagree and come to consensus during the demo. This is much faster than arranging an additional review by an approved referee and waiting for review comments. The entire group of buyer stakeholders is present, including the customer leadership, and this collaboration is witnessed by our development team. It is valuable for helping the development team see what is important to the customer.
For example, how the customer wants to handle accessibility (Section 508 in U.S. Code) for eLearning courseware may come up in the first iteration, and that feedback applies to all future iterations. This lowers risk. If we had done 508 a particular way for more of the content before later discovering the customer wanted a change, we would have more rework, and the buyer would at least have a delayed schedule and likely increased costs too.
The increased collaboration helps the development team adjust to what the customer likes. We have found the teams look forward to these collaboration meetings because they hear what people think of what they have created. It is especially motivating for the team when the customer stakeholders provide “I like that” comments.
Inviting all the team also helps expose team members to more customer interactions, growing our talent for future projects.