One of the main reasons projects fail is due to a lack of user adoption. My personal definition of user adoption is end users happily and actively using a deliverable that is fit for purpose in the appropriate way. This would require a system that meets the needs of the end user as well as correctly trained end users with the appropriate support for any issues that may arise.
In my experience, adoption issues often arise during the implementation stages of a project. This tends to be because of poor stakeholder engagement. Depending on the project methodology, we may have a product owner or a team of work stream leads responsible for providing requirements or user stories. The product owner, work stream leads and stakeholders view deliverables after it has been built by the development team. However, showing deliverables to stakeholders soon and often ensures that the entire project team (which includes the product owner and work stream leads) are on the right track.
We should also consider that business processes change and therefore it is necessary to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to notify the product team of these changes as soon as possible. Without an open line of communication, the system built may not be fit for purpose due to the changes in the business process.
How can Azure DevOps help to include stakeholders within the delivery process and also provide the opportunity for the team to have early visibility of changes which impact requirements?
Some see Azure DevOps as a tool to aid with continuous deployment of software. It is so much more than that.
Azure DevOps has several definitions. According to Microsoft, Azure DevOps is the unification of people, process and technology. Others may describe DevOps as a culture. Effectively, Azure DevOps allows the project team to work together to provide a deliverable that meets the customers’ needs and that is free of defects.
Using the below elements of Azure DevOps, delivery teams can improve stakeholder engagement and therefore improve the likelihood of the system being adopted.
- Requirements or user stories gathered by analysts can be created as work items manually or via Azure DevOps’s team integration with excel or Microsoft project. Product owners or stakeholders are able to state the priority of items and the order in which they wish for them to be developed
- Integration with PowerPoint allows consultants to associate storyboards created in PowerPoint to requirements or user stories in Azure DevOps. This ensuring that both testers and developers understand the design and therefore what is expected of them. These storyboards can also be shared with stakeholders to get their buy-in before anything is developed.
- Stakeholder feedback can be requested within DevOps and responses received created automatically within DevOps as a feedback response work item.
- Dashboard’s can be shared with stakeholders to provide transparency into how the project is faring which can prompt either action (e.g. to unblock items assigned to them) or discussion.
Everyone in the product team should be invested in user adoption. Azure DevOps is typically used within the team for its CI/CD capabilities. Expanding the use of DevOps to also include its other capabilities as described above can really improve the involvement of stakeholders in the project and can also provide to the team much needed transparency/visibility of items being developed.