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Do you struggle with managing scope? Here’s how the Pega Express™ delivery approach can help

Joan Du Triou, 8 minute read

I've had several years in IT, with a good number of them involved in implementing systems. One of the persistent challenges I’ve faced in my career, on many projects, is the ever-elusive concept of the fully defined project scope. Imagine a project scope that is immune to scope creep and deliverable without change. What a wonderful ideal that would be!  

In my experience, a project scope, no matter how well defined, is still subject to change. Business is not static, and we cannot know everything we need to know before we start our projects. So, it’s more about embracing change along with adopting ways of working that help us manage change and make us successful.   

Those of us working on Pega implementations, no matter the role you play in those projects, from business teams to the IT teams, all know that today’s organizations need to be even more responsive and adaptive to constant change.  So, when we, at Pega defined our Pega Express™ delivery approach, we knew we must simultaneously:  

  1. Provide the opportunity to accommodate change at every phase of our delivery approach.  
  2. Reduce the delivery risk associated with constant change by improving the certainty of our scope at every phase of the approach.

It may seem at odds to be both open to change and at the same time more certain of your scope. That’s the wonderful thing about Pega Express, and I want to share with you three key tenets of our delivery approach that help us do just that. 

  1. Planned strategic incremental delivery of capability and value in what we call an MLP (Minimal Lovable Product) roadmap.  
  2. Human-centered design using design thinking techniques to visualize and test the concept of solution before committing to the build.  
  3. Structured and collaborative working methods to drive business and IT alignment using Scrum during our build. 

Now I’ll explain each of these in more depth: 

Create an “MLP roadmap” 

With Pega Express, embracing change and increasing the certainty of the scope starts in the Discover phase. Using our best practices in design thinking we explore the business landscape to break down complexity into manageable releases of capability, each designed to deliver measurable value. Each release is what we call a MLP – a Minimal Lovable Product, comprised of one or more Microjourneys™ that we identified and prioritized based on their value and importance to the business and its customers.  We then compile a series of MLPs to create a MLP roadmap, which allows us to sequence the delivery in order of value and importance to the business and its customers. 

Breaking down this complexity into incremental deliveries increases the certainty of both achieving the delivery and achieving the associated value by making the delivery manageable and responsive to change. As you release each MLP into live, you’ll then plan, scope, and prepare the next MLP for delivery.  

This structure positions the business to take account of the learnings and insights gathered along the way as each MLP on the roadmap is implemented. Our approach bakes in the principle of an ever-living roadmap – one that can adapt to real-time insights and accommodate that learning. This keeps the overall MLP roadmap relevant and on track to deliver capability at-speed and be responsive to the changes needed to achieve business outcomes. 

Focus on human-centered design 

I’ve mentioned we make extensive use of design thinking techniques in our Discover phase to help create the MLP roadmap, but our use of design thinking does not stop there. We use design thinking throughout our approach, continuing our journey to increase certainty and accommodate change during delivery. Following our first phase, Discover, the project team initiates the Prepare phase. We designed this phase to prepare the delivery team to configure the MLP solution at-speed. 

During Prepare, we've had remarkable success running design sprints to visualize the solution concept at a more detailed level and then validate that concept with real end users. Our fast-paced design thinking workshop drives collaboration between business and IT to craft a prototype representative of the end-user experience. When validated with real end users, this prototype can quickly expose issues and changes that we need to account for as part of the solution. We achieve all of this within a short five-day window.  

With the clarity achieved from the design sprint, we can rest assured that we are basing our technical design and user story backlog on a foundation of certainty and alignment. This keeps the project team focused and able to deliver at-speed. 

With this foundation in place – we progress the delivery during the Build phase and continue to use our design thinking techniques to creatively update areas of the applications that need further refinement. Our approach includes periodic usability testing during the Build phase, providing the delivery team with real end user feedback on the application early and frequently, once again baking in the tenet of being responsive to change and increasing certainty. 

Prioritize business and IT collaboration and alignment 

Having discussed at-length the value of incremental delivery and design thinking in our delivery approach, there is one more especially important aspect of how we work at Pega. Our approach recognizes that delivering successful solutions is a team sport that requires collaborative working between diverse stakeholders with skills and specialization in business, user experience design, solution design, application design, testing, and project management.  

Our structured approach establishes a collaborative working style between business and IT right from the start. This theme of collaboration continues into the Build phase where we use scrum to bake in the structure, allowing us to configure the solution in sprints.  

The constant collaboration, validation, and iteration create planned breakpoints in the delivery cycle to accommodate change and test the certainty. Doing this frequently in short, sharp bursts aligned with the sprint cycle keeps the business teams close to the application build increment-for-increment, maximizing opportunities to secure the delivery, and stay true to the MLP goals and business outcomes. 

Bringing structure to the way we embrace change 

I started this blog with the premise that at Pega we recognize that businesses need to be more responsive than ever to the increasing pace of change. When we designed our delivery approach, we made a conscious effort to bring structure to the way we embrace change.  

With that, we understand that projects need to be delivered on time and be able to accommodate change. Keeping deliveries focused and incremental – always aligned to business outcomes – gives us the edge on establishing certainty by reducing risk and creating the breakpoints to accommodate change at the same time. Starting at the top and breaking the complex business problems down into a roadmap of MLPs allows us to be adaptive and focused right from the get-go.  
We have some great material to help you get started. Take a look at our comprehensive community site or, for more in-depth training, take our Pega Express Delivery mission on Pega Academy.

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About the Author

Joan Du Triou is a business architect at Pega.

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