November 15th, 2016

How Failures Lead to Success in Mobility Services

What if you could increase your chance of success for mobility projects to 90%?

And by success we mean achieving the overall objectives whether it’s revenue increase, cost savings, brand recognition, productivity increase or something else. Not just delivering a project on time, scope and budget.

DMI has been delivering mobility projects for over ten years now and despite our success we’ve failed a lot in the past. Only half of the projects achieved the customers’ overall objectives in 2012, but by 2015 we achieved over 90% success.

And 50% success might even be better than average as 75% of business and IT executives anticipate their software projects will fail according to Geneca.

So how did we do this and what was the key to success?

We believe that the improvement in our customer engagements were based on four things:

1. Understand the Problem before You Look for the Solution

Generally speaking, we’ve found that the mobility projects briefed to us didn’t have a clear problem analysis. This might be surprising considering all the emphasis on solving a customer problem, but in big companies this often gets lost.

By spending as little as a couple of days exploring the problem space with the customer we unearthed new insights and refined the problem in most cases. In a couple of cases the original problem description was discarded completely.

Once the problem definition is clear and agreed the task of identifying possible solutions begins. Every single project that started with a problem discovery resulted in a dramatical change to the solutions.

2. Defining Clear Success Criteria and Aligning Stakeholders

Many of the briefs contained vague objectives such as “x million in revenue within two years” or “increase loyalty and improve productivity”. We’ve found that it’s difficult for a developer, designer or project manager to relate to this during a project. By defining and including success criteria that can be measured during the project and shortly thereafter the level of engagement and passion for the project went up dramatically.

One example is measuring to what extent the solution solves the customer problem through user testing from the first sprint to the final delivery. This provided instant feedback every three weeks. Another example could be the number of critical bugs discovered by the customer after development and Q&A testing.

Finally, we found that getting the customer and all team members aligned and committed to the success criteria resulted in a major boost. When every team member knows their part to achieving the goals the team performs at its best.

3. Monitor, Measure and Test throughout and after Each Engagement

During a normal 4 to 5-month project a lot can, and should, change. As the first development prototype is delivered and tested with customers we often gain insights that would have been difficult to predict. Sometimes it’s related to a business process or the UX design and other times the solution architecture or the use of a new technology.

Real end-users (not project members or colleagues) plays a key part in this. In our previous research 4 out of 5 projects that didn’t include user testing failed.

The important thing is that the success criteria KPIs are constantly measured and, if needed, refined. We normally review them once a month, but in shorter and smaller projects it could be weekly.

4. Learn from and Avoid Previous Failures

First of all, apologies to the past customers and projects we failed. The positive thing is that we’ve learned from our mistakes and we remind ourselves to avoid repeating them.

In business school, case studies are used to learn from failure and success, but in business we usually only share the success stories. Training of employees and educating customers should always include both.

Success comes down to experience from a lot of failure. Any internal department/team, agency or IT company that says they haven’t failed is either lying or they’ve just started.

These are some insights that are applicable to every organisation. Other aspects such as people, tools, management buy-in and methodology obviously also have a huge impact.

Good luck with your next mobility project and please reach out to us if you want to learn more from our experience and insights.

Magnus Jern, President DMI International

Tags: guidelines insights IT mobility testing UX

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