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Tag: Requirements

Why Scenario Planning is Oh-So-Important for Project Businesses

The business world is characterized by constant change – particularly in project-oriented businesses – and if you don’t bend, you’ll break. Flexibility and responsiveness are key to success in an environment that’s hard to predict. But unpredictability doesn’t mean you SHOULDN’T plan ahead. It just means you need the agility to create, compare, and adjust plans when the sands shift.


What is scenario planning?

Project-centric businesses are always in a state of tension between work they’ve already committed to and the work they’re hoping to win. Will it go ahead? Can we fit it in? Will we need more people to deliver?

Scenario planning asks and answers those questions. It is the process of creating and comparing different combinations of projects – to understand whether you have the capacity to take on new work and deliver it successfully.

Businesses that practice effective scenario planning can commit to new work confidently because they have fully explored and understood the ramifications on their project pipeline.


The challenge with scenario planning

Scenario planning can be difficult for professional services firms considering the interdependencies between projects and people.

Client 1 can change the deliverables on their project and that can have knock-on implications for Clients 2, 3, and 4. Or maybe a key team member becomes ill or leaves the business. These – very common – curveballs can disrupt delivery across a number of projects, leaving project managers frantically mapping out new project paths.


Then there are the projects you hope to win. Not only that but you might be bidding for six projects but only expect to win two. But you actually win five. That’s great news on paper but how are you going to deliver them all? Who do you need to hire? And when can you realistically onboard them?

This is why scenario planning is often called ‘what if’ planning. It’s about asking the question, ‘what if this happens?’ How do different scenarios impact factors like:

  • Revenue
  • Business capacity
  • Resource availability and utilization


And from there, what does that mean for customer outcomes, staff workload, and your reputation overall?


Your sales pipeline is a poor proxy

In my past life as head of sales for a digital agency, I got frustrated by the one-dimensional nature of the data I received from our CRM.

I could see projects in the pipeline and their “value” but not how that translated to actual work, capacity, and billing over time. If you can’t answer the question ‘What’s billing going to be next month?’, or “how many developers will be needed in 6 weeks” you’re leading your company blindfolded.


In this context, probability percentages are less helpful than you might think. When you’re thinking of upcoming work, most CRMs might think of a new project as a deal, and that deal might be weighted based on a probability, say “90% certain it will be going ahead”. For sales, this means you can do a weighted average to determine how much work is ‘in the pipeline’. But that has no correlation to when it needs to be delivered – or your capacity to deliver it.

A pipeline forecast chart might look pretty, but it’s a poor proxy for company billing or the performance of the business. For example:

  • There is a big difference between a $100,000 project that is spread over twenty months at $5k per month or over two, at $50k per month. A CRM won’t show the difference between the two.
  • There is a big difference between $100k project that starts next month, vs one that starts in 12 months. If the deal were too ‘close’ on the same day, the pipeline report would look the same.
  • If your sales team closed a large sale, but you don’t have enough people to actually do the work in the timeframe, and need to hire, is it a good sale?


Scenario planning is a more collaborative and nuanced approach to understanding your project pipeline. It shows what’s actually happening, not just what’s coming up, and that knowledge is power. Because – armed with a 360 understanding of the impact of different projects on your team, capacity and bottom line – you can make better business decisions.


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Spreadsheets just can’t cut it

However, despite the value of scenario planning, many businesses don’t have the time or tools to do it.

When we talk to potential customers about scenario planning, they describe laborious processes involving several hours of a data analyst’s time, poring over Excel to model a single alternative scenario. The time and cost involved mean that the business is reluctant to model too many different scenarios, which seriously limits the usefulness of the project.

And they’re often frustrated to discover the data is bad and their predictions aren’t accurate anyway.  A revised delivery date here, a change of personnel there… Suddenly your spreadsheets are out of date and you’re making capacity decisions based on fiction, not fact.


Sadly, spreadsheets just aren’t cut out for the complexity of scenario modeling.

So, you can see if someone is fully booked or if projects clash. But you can’t easily interrogate that data to understand the ramifications of a change in one project to others in the pipeline. You can’t actively model a range of scenarios to understand project interdependencies and the implications of your decisions.

Plus, they only present data in one dimension and moment in time. Whereas scenario planning involves multi-dimensional, temporal datasets. In English? Resource planning is much more complex than simply looking at a snapshot of static data. A change of assignments impacts utilization levels, capacity, billing, profitability… Spreadsheets just can’t handle so many moving parts. Plus, these changes happen dynamically and over time, which means the exact same input data will result in different results at different periods of time… Yep, it’s complicated!

Model in minutes

Scenario planning is much quicker, easier, and more accurate when you use the proper software tools. The right software quickly answers the question ‘what are the consequences of taking on this work at this time?’.

Imagine a dashboard that lets you see an overview of all of your current projects in real-time – including capacity, availability, and utilization rates. And you can add in new projects – tentative or planned – and instantly see the impact on your organization.


Instead of spending hours of expert time to model a single scenario, anyone can model any number of project combinations in a matter of minutes. And immediately understand the implications of onboarding new projects.

This gives managers the opportunity to plan and explore myriad possibilities and choose the combination that delivers the best outcome for the organization. It is a rapid test-and-understand approach that can make the difference between seizing an opportunity and letting it slide by…


Reduce friction between functions

Scenario planning software also reduces friction between business functions and gets everyone pulling in the same direction.

A common problem with business planning is that operational systems are vertical and siloed. HR. Sales. Delivery. Accounting. And so on.

There’s no visibility into connected and contingent factors that affect your ability to deliver. For example, sales colleagues might commit to a project without fully understanding the impact on the delivery team. Or a project manager might plan around an individual’s capacity without knowing they’re coming to the end of a temporary contract or have 4 weeks of holiday planned.

This can cause friction and frustration between teams. And risks the cardinal sin of overpromising and under-delivering to clients.


A cross-functional planning tool like Runn increases transparency across the organization. It gives every business function access to real-time tools to model the impact of project decisions. So, sales can add in a tentative project and understand whether it could work before committing to it. And HR has access to the information they need for proactive recruitment planning, instead of being stuck in a reactive cycle.

This joined-up approach isn’t just good for internal harmony. It means customers are more likely to be satisfied because you have the capacity and resources to deliver what was promised.


Harness the benefits of scenario planning

Scenario planning is highly beneficial to project-based businesses. It:

  • powers robust but flexible forecasting, which makes your business more agile to opportunities
  • let’s you plan effectively for a range of different scenarios, confident that each one is manageable
  • optimizes your pipeline to maximize business outcomes – without burning out your resources
  • right size your team to deliver great work without overspending on headcount


All of which adds up to productive, profitable projects that delight clients and boost your reputation. And who wouldn’t want that?

Lean and Project Sustainability

On July 18th, 2008, SPIEGEL quoted the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas on how sustainability is seen and understood by various people. Rem Koolhaas allegedly said that “sustainability is such a political category that it’s getting more and more difficult to think about it in a serious way”. The issue raised by Rem is that sustainability is a complex concept, difficult to think about. It is therefore difficult to implement and control a concept that doesn’t come out clearly in our minds.

The former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, quoted by the financial times on March 28th, 2009, commented on sustainability from the lean management viewpoint and opined that the 2007-2009 Great Recession “did not come about because we issued too little money but because we created economic growth with too much money, and it was not sustainable growth.”

The issue raised by Merkel is that monetary and related instruments leave out key lean principles, especially on eliminating waste, namely (i) identifying and specifying value from the customer’s perspective, (ii) mapping the value stream, (iii)creating continuous flow, and (iv) establishing pull system. Eliminating waste is a major aspect of quality management. With the USA’s Great Recession case at hand, this article discusses lean as a tool for sustainability.


Eliminating waste to maximize sustainability

Generally, there are two types of work: value-adding and non-value-adding work. The non-value-adding work is also known as waste. A major aspect of sustainability thinking is the efficient and effective management of resources. In lean management, there are 7 categories of waste that need to be considered for sustainability’s sake.

They include (i) overproduction, (ii) over processing, (iii) waiting, (iv) transport, (v) inventory or stock, (vi) motion and (vii) defects.

Sustainability-oriented project teams will strive to eliminate these wastes to make sure project results “meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations”. By eliminating the above-listed wastes, project teams increase the chances for project results to survive the closure phase.


Voice of the customer (VOC) as the foundation for sustainability

The Brundtland Commission report underscores three dimensions of sustainability namely environment, society, and economy. The social dimension of sustainability requires that beneficiaries of any given intervention are heard and participate in the decision-making process. It is this participation in the decision-making that guarantees the ownership of beneficiaries. Not only the lack of this ownership does shorten the lifecycle of the project results but also erodes the capacity of beneficiaries for resilience and adaptation.  Needless to mention that resilience and adaptation are key features of a sustainable intervention.

Applied to project management, the lean methodology uses VOC to collect information on how customers or stakeholders feel about the project and their expectations.  For instance, customers interviews, live chat, focus group discussions, emails, social media, feedback forms or even special events such as customer dinner or brown-bag lunch are organized to collect data on how customers, at their respective chain levels, feel about the business, the products and understand their preferences.


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Mistake-proofing the sustainability-related processes

Mistake-proofing, also known as poka-yoke, is a declaration of systematic war against errors to make it impossible for an error to happen or if it occurs it doesn’t reach customers. The majority of poka-yoke in manufacturing use automatic devices or other technological tactics to filter out errors.

It is advisable that, in all industries, whenever possible, the project team and other stakeholders use poka-yoke to prevent the occurrence of errors throughout the project life cycle. For instance, during the formulation or reviews of the projects, checklists can be automated using drop-down lists with links to critical features of sustainability.

If certain sustainability requirements are not met, the next step will be put on hold until everything is right. Advanced technologies will also include digital documents and pictures (both baseline and targets). The use of GIS and GPS in mistake-proofing helps to prevent environment-related mistakes. Simply put, there are many ways project sustainability can be assured using the poka-yoke technique.


Two Muda that threaten sustainability: the USA great recession case

 What if chancellor Merkel’s complaint was about overproduction or over processing?  From her argument, we learn that the traditional belief that monetary policies and related instruments designed and implemented by central banks and other monetary institutions are not necessarily demand-driven. When Chancellor Merkel argued that “too much money” was supplied in the market, she warns us against the Muda of overproduction of money that doesn’t match with sustainable growth.

Assuming that Merkel was right, it is logical to warn against a new Muda of overproduction probably worse than the 2007-2009 great recession, as it would be exacerbated by the solution brought by the federal reserve. In fact, as a response to the crisis, the Federal Reserve, along with massive government spending, reduced the interest rate to zero and bought financial assets to add more money into the economy.

From another analytical angle and in line with Merkel’s opinion, since the federal reserve injected much money into the economy, it can be inferred that a second Muda of over processing is ongoing. For complex processes, unless mistake-proofing is used, over processing can only be known when products are out and customers don’t take them.



With scarce resources and increasing demand by the current generation, it is urgent to think about how to assure the quality and quantity of what the current generation will leave for the future one.

This said, we need to first figure out what will be the needs of future generations and then, as advised by the Lean Methodology, establish a pull system to serve those needs. The above-discussed great recession would not have happened if there were a poka-yoke to prevent it. The fundamental question is why the Federal Reserve didn’t think of mistake-proofing in the financial system to prevent the crisis.

Is it because this kind of poka-yoke is impossible? Is it because, as Rem tries to convince us, sustainability is just a fashionable political category?

Achieving Quality Performance and Results

Projects are performed to deliver quality products/services and satisfy budget, and schedule expectations.  This article focuses in on quality deliverables, their relationship to quality performance, and the quality management process that seeks to ensure that quality criteria are met.

The quality of performance (the work required to deliver results) and the quality of the outcome (a service or product) are intimately related. Every outcome is the result of performance, a process. High quality performance delivers high quality outcomes. The process is the key. If it is a good one, it makes sure that quality is defined and mutually understood by stakeholders and that “critical assessment” is done with positive attitudes.


Quality Management

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.
W. Edwards Deming

Quality management (QM) is a process. It is well described in PM standards, yet poorly defined quality criteria and personal reactions to critical assessment, if it is done at all, get in the way of applying quality management principles.

The goal of quality management is to improve the probability of achieving quality outcomes. It makes sure results are being developed in a way that leads to success and whether success has been achieved.

Effective quality management relies on a simple model:

  • Set quality criteria
  • Define the process for controlling quality, including roles and responsibilities
  • Assess performance against the criteria
  • Learn
  • Adjust
  • Continue.

It is a variation on the classic Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model. So simple and rational. Yet, there is still need to raise quality consciousness and overcome the obstacles to a practical effective quality management process.


What Gets in the Way?

There are three primary obstacles to achieving quality outcomes: lack of clear definition of quality attributes (specifications), poor collaboration, and resistance to critical assessment. These are strongly influenced by people’s attitudes (mindset) and their setting – organizational values, processes, and relationships.


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Fuzzy Specs – Lack of Objective Criteria

If you and other stakeholders don’t know what quality is how can you achieve it?

Clarity and agreement regarding what you and other stakeholders mean by quality in each case, avoid subjective expectations and the inevitable conflicts that occur between those who deliver and those who receive and/or assess results. One person’s sense of quality is often not the same as another’s, so it is important to get into details about what is expected.

This obstacle seems easy to overcome. All you have to do is specify the product and performance with objective quality criteria.

But anyone with experience knows that it is not so easy. It takes time, skill, effort and most of all collaboration among performers  requirements analysts, quality management staff,  users, and clients.

For example, performance quality can be defined in terms of error or defect rates and productivity. Product quality, in terms of measurable attributes such as resiliency, duration, reliability, and customer satisfaction. Service quality can be specified with parameters for response time, customer satisfaction, etc.

Defining requirements takes time and effort. And it is hard to specify the less quantifiable quality criteria like color and texture, look and feel, refined finishing, absence of subtle flaws.

Clients often say that they’ll know quality when they see it. That tells you that when it comes to specifying quality look and feel requirements, it is best to use examples, CAD renderings, prototypes, and an agile approach.



Collaboration is the key to success. A collaborative process helps to get everyone to own the definition and to make sure that what is expected is feasible and fits within time and cost constraints. When quality specifications are set by the client without involvement of the people who must deliver and test, the stage is set for conflict and unnecessary pressure on the delivery team.

In a collaborative process, the delivery team can give feedback about the costs of quality features while clients and others can bring in cost of quality (for example the cost of errors and maintenance) to enable the team to justify costs related to higher quality. The quality control people can set expectations and engineer the best testing approach.

Together, stakeholders, deliverers, clients, quality assurance and control staff, users agree upon a set of criteria that is likely to be met with expected levels of cost, time, and effort and on the process they will use to make sure quality is achieved..

Whether you are taking an agile approach in which the team is working together to evolve the product throughout the project, a hybrid approach, or a more waterfall like approach, the time and effort required for collaborative work more than pays off by minimizing unnecessary conflict and unmet expectations.


Resistance to Assessment

Setting criteria is critical. Once set, assessment is a natural, obvious follow up.

How hard could that be? You just measure interim and final outcomes against quality criteria, when there is a diversion, determine cause, decide how to proceed?

However, overcoming resistance to assessment is even more difficult than overcoming the “fuzzy specs” obstacle. Here we are confronted with cultural, procedural, and psychological barriers.

The psychological level is the most important. Many people take criticism of their work as personal assault. There may be cultural issues regarding critical assessment. Some fear being fired. Old personal issues are triggered. Some fear saying something that might upset key performers and co-workers. Sometimes performers get angry at testers and reviewers when they come up with errors or performance issues.

Its complex. The secret ingredient is clear communication regarding what assessment is all about and how to do it in a way that continuously reinforces the sense that criticism is a positive thing that contributes to ever increasing quality. Acknowledge the obstacles.

If below par performance is not confronted it will continue. Individuals will not have the opportunity to learn and improve their performance. If errors and omissions are not discovered during controlled testing, they will be discovered after the product is released for use, at a far higher cost than if detected earlier.


Quality Process

Quality process leads to quality outcomes. We are addressing the quality management process. Its success relies on mutual understanding and collaborative effort by stakeholders. Together they address the obstacles of fuzzy specifications, lack of collaboration, and resistance to critical assessment.

Spend the time and effort on continually refining the quality management process to avoid unnecessary conflict, dissatisfaction, and poor-quality outcomes. Start with a review of your current situation – Is there a documented process? Is everyone happy with the way things are being done and the results?


See the article The Key to Performance Improvement: Candid Performance Assessment


Exceeding Expectations is a Quality Killer

Do you remember a time when you were hungry, and once your favorite food was brought, you couldn’t help but consume only part of it? Why didn’t you eat it all, given it is your favorite food? The answer is very easy. As you eat, hunger starts to disappear and immediate interest in the favorite food starts to reduce until it disappears. At the time you feel satisfied with already eaten food, swallowing an extra unit will be harmful. How would you feel if a friend of yours insist that you should eat that extra quantity of that delicious food?

The project management profession is full of similar stories. In the project management profession, stakeholder engagement is paramount to the project’s success. The purpose of fully engaging stakeholders is to ensure their satisfaction.

Why do stakeholders’ expectations matter?

Project management is one of the few jobs that are likely to suffer less from robotization. This is because the project management job involves interacting with people to understand their needs to serve them better. The business case at the origin of a project ensures the business bottom line is at the service of key stakeholders essentially customers, end-users, suppliers, and the sponsor. Consistency in project management consists of regularly testing the correspondence between the business case and stakeholders’ expectations. This test helps ensure that the project implementation serves the needs and wants of stakeholders since a project, regardless of the industry, should be pro-people. By trying to develop a new product, service, or result, a project exists to serve the needs or expectations of key stakeholders mainly customers and end users.

Benefits realization: the total utility for stakeholders

As rightly put in the previous section, a project exists to serve the needs of key stakeholders. Customers and end-users invest their capital into a project expecting that the ultimate result will make them better off or happier. When a project manager or a project team member strives to meet stakeholders’ expectations, she/he assumes that by doing so the beneficiary stakeholders will get more enjoyment or happiness from the project results. Microeconomics teaches us that this satisfaction, or happiness felt by the consumer, or the stakeholder in the project management language, is also known as utility in the disciple of Economics. Utility function has been largely studied by microeconomics scholars and they postulate that the consumer will seek to maximize the utility derived from consumer goods and services.  If project team members stop here, they will spare no effort to find how they can exceed customers’ expectations. However, Microeconomics arrived at a conclusion that for a single good or service (project result in this case), consumers maximize the enjoyment or total utility when marginal utility becomes zero, as its curve reaches the flexion angle. At this point, the total utility starts to decline, and the extra unit of goods consumed starts harming the consumer as illustrated in the following graph. Remember the old saying that “too much is always bad”.




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Navigating the project complexity to meet stakeholders’ expectations

In light of the above discussions, the work entrusted to the project manager is not straightforward. It is full of changing individual and organizational behaviors, a dynamic system behavior resulting from connectedness and interdependency of project elements that interact to bring about change as well as ambiguity stemming from unclear cause-and-effect relationships, emergent issues, and situations that can be interpreted differently.

Stakeholders’ expectations are embedded in individual and organizational behaviors, which, as mentioned above, are changing. The changing nature of stakeholders’ expectations makes it difficult to identify them. Targeting to exceed stakeholders’ expectations will bring more complexity as, to be safer, it would be built on assumptions of increasing marginal utility which is a very rare situation. Proponents of the postulate of exceeding stakeholders’ expectations base their view on the assumption that the expectations in question are less than the maximum total utility or benefit that can be obtained from the project.  However, this is not always true, given that history is full of examples of overambitious stakeholders. In addition, this assumption of a sober and realistic stakeholder tends to forget other aspects that make project management complex namely the limited resources, emerging issues, stakeholders’ changing behavior, and most importantly the diminishing marginal utility of most of the project results as well as their opportunity cost.

To solve this problem, the adaptive approach in project management proposes to regularly check stakeholders’ expectations and adjust targets to a desired, justifiable, and affordable level. By adjusting project targets, the project team will hence deliver to newly identified stakeholders’ expectations rather than exceeding them. The adaptive approach will embrace the continuous improvement practice in which the regular assessment of stakeholders’ expectations will be the mandatory entry point.

Ethics and exceeding stakeholders’ expectations

In most situations, the project team members work as agents on behalf of the sponsor who is the principal. They receive the project implementation mandate from the sponsor or the customer. The project team is selected based on its skills, experience, exposure, and network, assumably required for successful project implementation. As they carry out their duties, team members obtain specific information on the project. Ethics requires the project team to share specific information with relevant stakeholders to ensure informed decision-making. Before delivering beyond expectations, a team member that behaves ethically will check with the concerned stakeholders if doing so will be beneficial for them. If the stakeholder confirms his interest, then the project team will be delivering on revised stakeholders’ expectations rather than beyond expectations.

If on the contrary, the project team goes ahead and delivers the unilaterally revised targets without confirmation from concerned stakeholders, this will sound unethical because one would ask why hiding good things, and the moral hazard can easily slip in this behavior.


As a continuous improvement practice, it is recommended to regularly check stakeholders’ expectations to deliver just on it. It goes without recalling that “too much is always bad”.

Design Thinking and Project Management

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a methodology that was created by Stanford University professor Tim Brown and IDEO’s CEO, an innovation agency where they wanted to improve the service to their customers, from an empathy approach. Every time, the method proposed in Design Thinking is being used all over the world, especially in organizations that want to solve problems, focused on clients, based on ideas, proposals, and experimentation, above all.

This dynamic occurs even when the ideal of the final product or deliverable is not yet clear, but if the problem is clear and the work of experimentation with the final customer is enhanced. This way of solving problems has stages, but without a doubt its basis is the focus on the needs of the client, empathizing, observing, evaluating, creating prototypes (experimentation), testing, getting feedback, and improving the product.

This process allows sustainable growth and is based on teams from multiple disciplines, to achieve products or services, technically feasible, that meet the expected and within the resources available.

The process.

Through the different design thinking phases, we can use a series of technics and tools that allow us to develop new products and services, from understanding problems or needs to prototype, business model, evaluating alternatives, client feedback, etc. It is important to punctuate that this is an iterative process.


Figure 1. Design Thinking Steps

The stages are briefly described for comprehension purposes; however, I will focus on the “Empathize” stage and its tools to improve the lifting of the client’s need, their desires, knowing their “pain” and how to plan possible solutions. Independent of the project approach: predictive, agile, or hybrid.

  1. Empathize:

This stage is perhaps the most relevant, because it focuses on understanding as a team and individually, the desires and incentives that the client has, beyond the need itself. Here is much of the success of this method, as it drives you to know customers or end-users deeply. Considering, of course, the “hard” data, figures, fixed strategy, business plan, which are important because they are the “context” of the problem, but it is not the primary objective of empathizing.

This empathy is achieved by engaging with end-users or customers. Getting your point of view and ideally living it. Several tools and techniques of this stage are those that I will deepen in this article.

  1. Define:

In the first stage, we should be able to obtain the main problems posed by the user/client with the necessary depth. It is then necessary to evaluate the information obtained and detail the one that contributes to a greater extent to really know the users.  Here are defined those hypotheses that present greater opportunities to generate value to the client when solved.

  1. Ideate:

It is now up to elaborate ideas for the problems selected from the previous phase, the focus is to look for a range of solutions, there is no “bad idea”, the more alternatives the better for the process. Brainstorming is crucial at this stage, the best one for the team and its characteristics are sought, considering of course the users/customers. As the name suggests, in this phase the solution ideas are worked on, and collaboration and participation of all team members are encouraged.

  1. Prototype:

As the name implies, here ideas are transformed into prototypes. It pursues further experimentation by the team and customers. Prototypes can be made with common materials such as paper, cardboard, Lego blocks that reflect functions of the final product. Or in the case of digital prototypes, app demo.

  1. Testing:

Here the tests with the prototypes made are carried out and the users/client are asked for their feedback regarding the experimentation with the prototypes. This stage allows to identify improvements, failures, deficiencies, good points that must be maintained, etc. Ideal to maintain as a team a receptive look at the interaction of users with the prototype, answer inquiries and documents.

  1. Evaluate:

Here it is necessary to analyze the errors, and observations obtained from the previous stage, looking for the points of improvement of the product. This can lead us to go back to previous stages with the improved products and experiment again until we get to the closest thing to the product desirable by the user/customer.


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Design Thinking Tools.

Independent of the project approach: predictive, agile, or hybrid. Especially for user “requirements” or “stories”, the following tools or techniques add a lot of value in complementing and fully identifying the customer’s desires.

  • Empathy Map: this is one of the most useful and applicable tools to get to know our customers/users in depth. It allows delivering a global vision of the aspects of the “human being” behind the client.

It is a canvas like the one presented below, which can of course be complemented with the areas that as a team we determine valuable for our process, this gives us benefits such as:

    • Improve the understanding of our customers or users.
    • Have a dashboard view of customer needs
    • Land expectations and document them.
    • The visual saves a thousand words.
    • Develop the products considering the map obtained.
    • Enhance the lifting of requirements and enrich user stories.
    • Allows you to engage in the client’s “pain” and experience their concerns.


Figure 2. Empathy Map
  • Job Shadowing or Observation: focuses on observation, supported by an interview with stakeholders or users who carry out the activities of the business flow that is part of the client’s environment. Example: A shoe factory would mean observing (not just talking or interviewing) all those roles that are part of the required business flow. In IT or Technological industries, for example, it is common for metrics such as:
    • A number of interactions carried out by users in the system or application they use as part of the process to be surveyed.
    • Failures or points of failure of the system or application.
    • Execution process times of the functionalities of the system or application.
    • Of course, everything is related to the customer experience.

Benefits: observing that it goes beyond the story, the daily operation of the organization (in-situ), allows to know, document, and see the critical points of the flow and what can be improved. There is no better feedback than from the first source, experiencing and evidencing the activities that will be the focus of intervention of our project, allows us in addition to documenting the current flow, to know the “pains” of the user (client) and their expectations.

  • Actors Map: it is a graphic representation, very simple, that allows concentrating in the same plane, the interactions, degree of involvement, and the relationships of the actors that relate to our main client. All this is in the context of the problems that are being tried to develop.

There are several ways to represent this map, the example described below is circular, which is segmented into three parts depending on the areas of the customer relationship, segmentation is according to our need.



Figure 2. Actors Map

Another important point is that the gaze of actors is also equivalent to those interested in the project such as people or institutions, private or public.

They participate in this diagram:

  • Direct actors: they interact directly with our client (in the center). We can associate them with greater or lesser influence.
  • Main actors: they are related and interact with our main client; they have lower interaction, and you don’t have so much control over them.
  • Secondary actors: they are related and interact with our main client, in a distant way, but may or may not have influence and relevance. They are unpredictable.


Design Thinking in Project Management

In projects, independent of the approach, we can innovate, with tools or techniques that are not necessarily the traditional or usual ones for our projects. Precisely in times where the dynamism of the market and the behavior of our customers, we must have the ability as a team and organization, of course, to adapt and use those techniques that facilitate our day to day and allow us to get to know our users or customers who are finally the main focus of our activity.

In this context, we can use this tool to define:

  • Customer needs
  • The product features
  • The project scope
  • Design business process
  • The IT architecture
  • Requirements analysis

This approach helps us to identify stakeholders, improve the process to select projects, reduce conflicts, innovate in a changing world, solve complex problems, and we can work to satisfy needs and increase value to the business.