Agile Methodology in the Real World
In my role as Corevist CEO, I participate in our Project Initiation Workshops whenever possible. I want to hear from real people who’ve just decided to do business with us. I love participating with project teams as they chart the course of their projects. After 11 years of attending these meetings, I still love seeing how our clients react to our live, working demo that’s integrated to their SAP system on Day 1. In a recent Initiation Workshop, an IT decision-maker said something that really stuck with me. It encapsulated everything about the Agile Methodology. You might even say it captured the whole Corevist “gestalt.”
The phrase in question? “Just deliver something, man!”
This guy really gets what we’re doing. He expressed this so well, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on Agile, the prioritization of delivering something, and what it means at Corevist.
Agile meets real people where they are, in the midst of turmoil
Last time I was in Johannesburg, South Africa, was some 25 years ago. The country was still suffering under the injustices of the Apartheid regime and Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk were in the midst of negotiating its end. When I returned to South Africa for this Project Initiation Workshop, I didn’t really know what to expect. Apartheid is gone “on paper,” but what legacy did it leave? How did it affect the people who work for our new client?
As I took in the sights and sounds of Johannesburg, I was fascinated by the ongoing complexity of the situation. Trying to right the wrongs that have endured over generations of time is not a trivial matter. Clearly South Africa is not shying away from the challenge…and as messy as the process is, there is a process and past injustices are being addressed. All in all, people are doing good in South Africa, and I’m honored to make life easier for this company and its customers.
After one of the workshops, I met up with our Project Manager at a bar. We started talking about how Corevist ended up in Johannesburg, and how I ended up at this bar, having a beer with him. It was incredible to hear the Project Manager’s story. He’s been at this family-owned, South African company for a long time. The last 9 months, he’s been out on sick leave. The company supported him throughout his ordeal. This was his first project back—indeed, his first beer back.
(Man, was I humbled to be enjoying that beer with him!)
Obviously, life has been a challenge recently for this Project Manager. He talked about that turmoil, and the turmoil he’s encountered in previous IT projects. Every time a great idea came up, scope creep set in before the project even started. Once it started, the scope would creep even more. You could even say there’s a script which these projects follow. It looks something like this:
- People see a business challenge they want to solve.
- They try to design an IT solution for it.
- Before they even begin to implement, they uncover new scenarios that the IT solution could resolve.
- The scope grows to include those areas.
- After a couple iterations of that, they’ve lost sight of the initial business problem and they’ve literally blown this thing out of “implementable” proportions.
Scope creep always leads to failure when the philosophy and methodology aren’t Agile. It’s a consistent pattern in enterprise IT, and I’ve seen it too many times. Non-scalable solutions (and non-scalable methodologies) simply don’t deliver.
Agile delivers where all else has failed
Ultimately, in these scenarios, the company in question never got anything into production. Each project was a total waste of time—even, you might say, a total failure.
I assured the Project Manager that his situation wasn’t unique. I hear a similar story everywhere I go, every time I talk to an IT professional with battle scars.
He said it got so bad, the team had built up all this angst against bloat in IT projects. The way he put it was, “We all came to the same place, which was, ‘Dammit, man, just deliver something!’”
Corevist just delivers
You know what made my day? He said that when he started talking to Corevist, that was the exact gestalt he got about us—that we would deliver where all other vendors had failed. (He must have absorbed the fact that we’re integrated to SAP on Day 1 and live in 90 days.)
He told me, “Culturally, we felt we were aligned with you guys at Corevist from the get-go. We had interviewed several other people. They didn’t understand SAP, or they were trying to sell us on front end functionality which we knew we didn’t need, because we’re basically selling to our own distributors and dealers. That’s why you guys are here, because you understand that.”
What happens when “just deliver” meets scope creep
The last couple days we were there, we held true to form. Over the course of the workshop, we pushed back against scope creep that didn’t produce enough value for the trouble. We didn’t want to hold the project hostage to fine points of customization that we can address down the road. The main point was to create as much up-front business value now, then deliver on those non-essential customizations once the ecommerce business is up and running.
I guess that makes us unique. What vendor comes in and says, “Just let us deliver something, man! Stop trying to grow the scope of your project!”
Nobody says that. In enterprise IT, the vendor’s goal is always to pack in as much functionality (and thus, cost) as possible. That’s where our approach is truly radical. We refuse to grow SAP ecommerce projects beyond what’s feasible in a first iteration. We consistently advise our clients to defer non-essential functionality to Phase II, Phase III, and beyond.
Dammit, man. We just deliver—and we help you scale up from there when you’re ready.
Moving forward: FREE case study
Wondering what an agile rollout plan looks like in real life? Download this case study on Mannington Mills. This leading manufacturer of flooring launched a B2B ordering portal through Corevist, then added a Magento catalog when they were ready. The result? 150% sales growth.
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