Why are users key in a project’s success?
Since the advent of Agile methodologies, including users as part of the Agile project team has been recognized as an essential success factor. In fact, it’s true whatever the methodology and at any phase of the project.
It is quite obvious that you should rely on users when you are specifying a product and defining project goals. Seeing users as co-owners of the application together with the IT team leads to better product quality. The approach helps secure the project since the users will be less inclined to make eccentric requests that will lead to scope creep and delays.
During the implementation phase, it is recommended to share project indicators and dashboards with the users so as to share risks and take the necessary corrective actions. Having strong user involvement and a clear definition of what has to be implemented lead to better planning and better code. Furthermore, once they have taken full ownership of the project users will want the product to be as functional as possible and will be careful to test every major feature, leading to earlier detection of bugs and better overall quality.
The Go-live is usually a period of intense stress. As users have followed the project step by step, they’ll know the product quite well by this stage and will need less support in changing their habits, which should allow your team to focus on real issues and meeting the deadlines.
Working as closely as possible to your end-users will ensure that your project matches their needs and will also facilitate the change management process. On top of this, the bridges built between the tech and business sides will make any future projects easier to conduct. Last but not least, the quality of your software will improve: features will better match demand and users will be more involved in the validation process, resulting in less reworking downstream.
Project Managers having to deliver projects to tight cost, quality and time limits might be less inclined to involve users. Surprisingly though, dashboards and indicators such as those provided by Infoscope have helped to prove that projects where users were more involved have experienced:
- longer initiation phases with better scope definition
- increased productivity
- shorter validation phases with user availability
- better quality and fewer bugs
- on-time delivery due to team engagement
- overall higher customer satisfaction