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Deliver High Business Value With Agile Opportunity Canvas

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Last updated on
31st May, 2022
12th Sep, 2018
Deliver High Business Value With Agile Opportunity Canvas

I would like to start this blog with a question.
Business case, quite commonly used term in Project Management. Do we agree?
It is a document explaining the justification for a project and expected outcome.
Let us have a look at Project, Program and Portfolio Management in the image below.

Oraganization strategy
Every single initiative or project within an Organization is aligned to Organizational strategy.

In an Enterprise level, we tend to see a lot of ideas and requests emerging from stakeholders, clients, internal teams, outcomes of market research. These ideas and requests will convert into a Project, if we see a potential opportunity. In traditional approach or Agile approach, every idea or request should be validated to ensure the right investment is made.
Agile is a widely used terminology in IT industry. People often stumble upon understanding Agile and Lean. Lean Methodologies focuses more on value, elimination of waste and delivering the product in small batches. Agile is a subset of Lean thinking.
Agile movement was formed in 2001, Outcome of which is Agile Manifesto and 12 Principles for Agile Software development. Agile is an umbrella term covering different methods and frameworks such as Scrum, Scrumban, XP, FDD etc. All Agile approaches/frameworks emphasizes more on Agile Manifesto and 12 Principles.

Agile Model:

Agile Model:
Demand Management in Traditional Approach/Waterfall model:

In the traditional approach, a project is selected over another project through Project evaluation tools such as Cost-Benefit analysis, Decision Matrix etc. A project charter will be created during the initiation phase of the project which captures business case, high-level requirements, timeline/milestone, risks, costs and other constraints. A detailed scope in the form of "Statement of Work" is approved during the planning phase.
Planning is one time in a Waterfall model and will take a considerable amount of time in the project. Scope(Feature) is Fixed, Time and Cost is flexible in Traditional approach. Any changes to the scope will be difficult to handle in Waterfall model. There are a lot of risks involved in Traditional approach, as planning is one time.
 Iron triangle- Traditional Approach
                                                                                                       Fig: Iron triangle- Traditional Approach 
Demand Management in Agile Approach:
In the Agile approach, planning is continuous. Planning is done at different stages. This reduces risks.

  • Strategic Planning
  • Portfolio Planning
  • Product Planning
  • Release Planning – Quarterly by entire team
  • Iteration Planning – Bi-Weekly by entire team
  • Daily Planning – Daily by entire team

Frequency and required participants for Strategic, Portfolio and Product planning will differ across organizations.

Agile Estimating and Planning
                                                                                                         Fig: Agile Estimating and Planning 

In the Agile approach, Feature remains flexible, Time and cost are fixed. Agile approach is incremental and iterative in nature. In the Agile approach, we do not have a detailed scope slated during the start of the project. As we evolve during the development phase, there might be new features or enhancements identified by the customers.
Iron triangle- Agile Approach
                                                                                                          Fig: Iron triangle- Agile Approach

In Agile Demand Management Cycle, an idea/requirement/enhancement is chartered in an Opportunity Canvas which gets reviewed by Investment cabinet.
As per agile manifesto # 3- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation and Agile Principle # 1: Satisfying the customer is of highest priority:
"Agile opportunity canvas" creates more visibility to the customer and the product owner to prioritize new requirements or enhancements over others. (Enhancements which needs a development effort of minimum 2 months would be considered to be chartered in an Agile opportunity canvas).
Demand Management process is followed in both Traditional and Agile approaches. In Traditional approach, since the scope is clear it will be a one-time activity. But in Agile, as we do Rolling wave planning on shorter time span to deliver customer value, we would need a robust demand management process to ensure the right requirements were approved and investment is made for right product or feature.
Opportunity Canvas & Demand Management
                                                                                              Fig: Opportunity Canvas & Demand Management

Agile Opportunity Canvas:
Agile Opportunity Canvas also referred to as Agile Project Charter is used to ensure whether the business value is captured in the right format, which gives visibility to higher management and decision makers to ensure the investment is made to the right effort.
An opportunity canvas is similar to a lean business case. It will help us capture the essential fields.
Drafted opportunity canvas will move through the approval process before any project work is initiated.
Sample Agile Project Charter template:
Sample Agile Project Charter template
There are different elements in an Agile Project Charter. These elements are customized according to the Organizational needs.  Opportunity Canvas is a living document and it should be in One page.

In a nutshell, we should have the required elements populated to move it across the Demand Management. Generic elements to be part of the Opportunity canvas are listed below:

  • Current Problem Statement – Why do we need to implement this idea? What is the Problem statement?
  • Strategy/Value Justification – What is the value proposition this idea provides and what strategy are we adopting.
  • Scope – In scope and Out of scope details for the generated idea/ enhancement.
  • Sponsors and Stakeholders – This could be internal or external to the organization.
  • Financials – What are the costs and benefits associated?
  • Success Metrics – SMART Metrics towards the investment. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time related)
  • Resources -  Who are the resources going to be engaged? What are the procurement needs? What are the infrastructure needs? Etc.,

Agile Project Charter Benefits:

  • Agile Opportunity Canvas creates transparency across the entire organization.
  • Provides a rational route and logic of purpose to the entire team from the beginning to the end.
  • Product Portfolio is maintained and prioritized effectively.
  • It helps avoiding duplicate efforts.
  • It also helps in identifying, if the idea/project/ feature is the latest trend in the market.

Agile opportunity canvas can be updated during the planning phase and execution phase. During evaluation or closure phase, the project or solution is validated against the success metrics scripted in Opportunity canvas. Success Metrics in Opportunity canvas does not need to be Objective (directly related to Monetary benefits) all the time, it can be subjective (related to value achieved) as well, depending on the nature of the solution and project.



sayee krishna

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