Enterprise Solutions Don’t Have to Take Forever

Have you ever worked on an enterprise-scale project in a big company? By ‘big’, I mean one with an IT organization of several hundred people — or more. If you have, you’ve likely had the frustrating experience of sitting in a room with 10-20 people (or more), some of them senior managers from several IT departments, trying to agree on an approach to solving a problem.

By definition, those managers will have differing agendas. Their priorities reflect the functional areas that they oversee, not the needs of the project.

Oftentimes, the group reluctantly agrees to meet periodically as they talk through the issues and try to arrive at a consensus. This is guaranteed to take forever (well, it will seem that way) and is anti-agile from any perspective.

Here’s a more agile approach.

  1. Start the meeting by offering an overview of the project with its key goals and priorities.
  2. Quickly focus the meeting on the problem at hand — do not get pulled into tangential issues. (If pressed, agree to follow up on those tangential issues later.)
  3. Give everyone a brief opportunity to ask questions and/or express an opinion.
  4. Ask for help in creating an acceptable solution. (Asking for help is important in winning support for the effort.)
  5. Suggest forming a core team of experts to fully assess the problem and recommend a solution. (The core team will likely have to include at least one member from each IT department represented at the meeting.)
  6. Request to have the core team meet two or three times a week. This will emphasize the importance of the issue and send the message that being on the core team is a commitment.
  7. Let the whole group know how you will keep them informed and when you will meet again.

This approach will result in a better solution in less time as long as you have a strong leader on the core team. Be agile, give it a try, and send me some feedback.

Updated: March 29, 2011 — 9:32 pm