Archives de catégorie : Agile

Project review? Prepare the good scenarii

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I have just attended to a meeting regarding one project of my running program. This kind of meeting is called « Project Meeting ». Initiated by the project manager, it aims to discuss with the program manager and other selected stakeholders some important facts about the projects before the official Project Review. It aims to deal with important issues and collect options from important sponsors beforehand.

Really often the project team uses those meetings to announce:

  • a budget exceeding,
  • a delay

What I realize today is that in most of the meeting I have participated to, the project team forgive to bring important information that are keys to their counterparts: a plan.

Explaining that budget is going wild, planning is dead and gold-plated deliverables are everywhere is in a sense not really interesting to take decision about the project. What the project team should focus on are its strategy to take the project on track according to the available options:

  • Budget should remain unchanged
  • Planning should remain unchanged
  • Scope should remain unchanged

According to those 3 different strategy the team should provide scenarii to their stakeholders in order to have clear direction.

What is the plan to keep the budget unchanged while our scope is booming or delay is out of control?
What are the consequences if we keep the original planning (i.e. deliverables dates) regarding to the scope (descoping) or budget?

When experiencing troubles on projects, project teams should of course understand the reasons and act to stop the deviation but also work on alternative and scenarii about the future of its project. If not, the decision taken during a project review could be somehow definitive.

Do you see other things to focus on in that case?

 

thanks for reading.

 

 

The Art of A/B testing

THE ART OF A_B TESTINGA/B testing seems to be the holy graal of start-upers. It might seem easy at the first sight. But actually is a real science which combine marketing, design, statistics and… chance.

What is A/B testing?

Very simple indeed.

Let’s say that you have a product. whatever product it is of course, however A/B testing is mostly used for webdesign and inbound marketing as you can easily test and learn at high speed. So you have a product. You have 2 possibilities regarding this product:

  • A version = orange coloured
  • B version = blue coloured

However before launching the production you want to know which one will be sold mostly and thus product the one that people wants.

To do that you have an audience Z that you split into two groups:

  1. Z(A) will be proposed with the A version (orange)
  2. Z(B) will be proposed with the B version (blue)

And you wait until you know which of A or B version has been sold the most. That’s it you are done.

Of course A/B testing is based on an assumption that nobody will be able to prove. It stays in the fact that people in the Z(A) group will react exactly the same in front of your test and Z(B) people does… So to be sure that your test worth value, you have to achieve a certain amount of visitors to « average » some particular behaviour. So the most people visit your website, the most trusted your A/B test.

A/Z testing for INNOWEO

Imagine now that I want, on INNOWEO, to do some A/B testing. I have around 150 visitors per day. I would like to optimize the people joining my INNOWEO community (more than 100 members, join !!). I have several option to test:

  1. Put at the bottom of each post a invitation to join (A)
  2. Put on the side bar an invitation to join (B)
  3. Have a pop-up that invite you to join after 10 sec on the site (C)
  4. Have it highlighted in flashy green (D)
  5. …..

Lots of possibilities.

So I could do as the following:

  • One third of my audience will see the A version
  • One third will see the B version
  • One third the C version

That’s A/Z testing where you test multiple variables. I just have to check what produces the most members.

As for an information I have tested A and B version with greater results for B version, the actual one on INNOWEO. I have never tried the other. Should I?

Multiple variable testing

Let’s know imagine that you want to test the shape and colour of a button, sounds and image. You are now entering the world of statistics and combination. 4 buttons, 3 sounds, 3 images give 36 possibilities. You can manage it iteratively or test it statistically to reduce the testing time. Up to you. A good experiment plan is however a valuable help.

The marketing side

Of course if you A/B test your product it is because you want to know which version is the more suited to your goal. That’s marketing.

So before launching a A/B test campaign prepare it to be sure you will reach your goals:

  • define precisely what to test (color, size, media, shape…)
  • select what kind of testing method you will apply (that’s key because you will have to perform different tasks)
  • Select your comparison factor (sales, new members, click…)

This should be in full accordance with your ultimate goal.

Dangers of A/B testing

Lots of dangers in A/B testing. Some are listed here below.

  1. Testing something not relevant (don’t test everything, focus on UX)
  2. Stopping too early (A/B test should be statistically significant)
  3. Stopping it too late (you are loosing time)
  4. Awaiting an increase in sale (you are not trying to sell more but trying to understand how to communicate)

What to test first

I would say test whatever will give you some more information about your audience and how it reacts to your value proposition and communication channel:

  • test a landing page with a video (it is proven that video is highly engaging)
  • test testimonials (social proof)
  • test writing (is a « join now! » button more efficient that the « join for free » one?)
  • test super fast loading of landing page
  • test super short sign-up form
  • test value proposition (a xx$ coupon or a free shipping?)

Let’s go, just try as I am doing it now. You didn’t notice? 😉

Oh yes I forgot about the chance in that… Well you’ll see…

 

Your next product idea is right here, in front of you.

Well, exactly it is in front of your future customer but as you are customer oriented you are in front of them so…

I have been asked lately about one product manager of my company about how to have great products ideas. I told him that I had no direct answer for him but I could try to help anyway.

To find good product ideas, follow the steps: 😉

  1. Talk to your customers.
    They will pay for your product so ask them what they want, what are their concern, what should be « Whahou!! »
  2. Find a problem to solve
    That’s key. No one will pay an extra € or $ for something that fix… nothing. So try to find an issue and solve it. An important issue of course. An issue for which people are ready to spend some money to avoid it. Pierre Valade, the founder of Sunrise, tells that he is focusing on everything that takes more than 5 min a day.
  3. Know your market
    What are the exisitng product? What are the leaders? Why? What are their advantages, their limits? Read online merchant website to know what people think about it…
  4. Focus on User Experience
    That makes sense. Focus on what will your customer feels when he/she will use your product. That’s key.
  5. Test it, refine it, reTest it (and rewind)
    testing is key for product development. Getting feedback is so more important that it should be your fist concern. By getting feedback you can adjust your product to your market needs and identify your market. Do and redoing it, both parameters will be assessed: market and product design.

Introduction aux méthodes agiles et Scrum

Scrum

La gestion de projet au service de l’innovation et de la R&D via les méthodes AGILe et SCRUM Les outils existent et sont performants.
Je vous conseille de lire cet article de L’Agiliste sur le sujet.

Ces méthodes sont très utilisées dans l’IT. Avez-vous des exemples dans les industries plus traditionnelles?

Introduction aux méthodes agiles et Scrum

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Killed by the stage gate process….

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The little story about Innovation projects

Most of you know about Stage Gate process and how to run it. Very processed, mastered by most of the project managers, it gives the management the nice feeling of controlling the thing. It is widely and greatly appreciated when dealing with R&D projects that have, by nature, a high level of uncertainty (compared to usual business projects). Therefore lots of organisations are using Stage Gate Process to control R&D and Innovation.

First we have to understand to goods and the bads of this kind of project management process. The stage gate process allows to go from an idea to a product passing so-called gates with necessary deliverables: a nice and smooth journey through prototyping, test, marketing or product launch phases. Thus it allows to control and monitor the project all along its life… Which can be kind of short in a way. Most of innovation projects don’t have a solid Business Case. To pass a gate the marketing documents are as essential as the technical ones. Thus a project can miss a gate due to its lack of a solid BC, which can be normal for an innovation project.

However is it so normal that an innovation project has a weak BC? Not so. If your process starts with a phase that allows you to collect and identify your clients needs and if you shape your project according to those needs then you should be able to design a nice BC. Nice enough to pass one gate. To avoid this mistake, some use a two dimension analysis to define your gate process one with a marketing scale the other one with a technical one. But doing so, the trap is that you will ask so much so early to the project that you will kill it before it actually validates its hypothesis and is strong enough to answer your requests..

I strongly recommend, based on my experience within intermediate size companies and a international groups, to differentiate projects that use the stage-gate process and those not. Instead of the Stage Gate process, an adapted version of the lean start-up or Agile will considerably increase the number of successful projects and thus new products on the shelf (with clear value proposition and identified clients) and drastically reduce the Time-to-Market. Doing so, you have to define R&D projects (those using Stage Gate process) and Innovation project (those using your own dedicated, fine tuned process). The definition must be yours according to your organisation, your needs and your goals. However I would say that Stage Gate should be applied only for mastered development such as incremental upgrading of services or products, new versions or slight updates and for new products/service within the comfort area of your organisation. For breakthrough innovation, brand new approach etc…, please do it another way and save the life of your innovations.

Too much gates will kill your projects, your innovation, your future. Adapting processes to improve the « go-real » ratio and the Time-to-market is not only necessary, it is vital for the wealth and the growth of our organisation.

Agile or not Agile?

agileQuand on parle d’innovation on parle rarement d’organisation Projet.. et pourtant. Si l’Agile s’est imposé dans les nouvelles technologies, cette méthode de gestion de projet est encore peu utilisée dans l’industrie classique (je cherche des retours d’expériences.). C’est donc pour un besoin personnel d’explication que j’ai trouvé cet article très intéressant qui rappelle les bases de l’organisation Agile. A lire pour se rafraichir la mémoire.

http://www.agiliste.fr/fiches/exemple-dorganisation-projet-agile/

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