In last week’s blog “Rationale for Project Stratus”, Ryan stated “The model articulated in Dean Leffingwell’s newest book, ”Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements, Practices for Teams, Programs and the Enterprise“ is clearly one of the patterns of agile strategic planning.”

In this post, I want to expand on how we reached that conclusion.

I’ll start by introducing Chad Holdorf, Agile Coach and earlyvangelist for Project Stratus. Chad has been guiding Project Stratus in support of Dean’s model. Take a look at what you get with such customer collaboration: http://www.scaledagiledelivery.com/2011/04/22/agile-portfolio-planning/

 

Now on to how we got there:

As mentioned in the “The Making of Project Stratus” blog, we have been diligently following a customer development process based on Steven Blank’s model. Because the book focuses on startups, we adapted the model to existing companies (like Rally) wanting to deliver new solutions to their market, but one aspect that applies to both is a ruthless search for a handful (3 to 5) of what Blank calls “earlyvangelists”.

Earlyvangelists are customers that have these particular characteristics:

  1. Has a problem
  2. Is aware of having a problem
  3. Has been actively looking for a solution
  4. Has put together a solution of piece parts
  5. Has or can acquire a budget

#4 and #5 are of key importance: Earlyvangelists have more than just the problem. They have it, want to solve it, already are trying something less than ideal, and have the availability and organizational authority to garner the resources to do something more about it.

With Project Stratus, we found many many customers have the problem (unrealistic roadmaps, poor visibility into development status of marketable features, lack of alignment between business goals and feature work). There is no doubt Rally has a responsibility to the market to produce an agile strategic planning solution. The challenge is finding earlyvangelists that can guide a successful solution to that problem.

We have been grateful to locate a handful of earlyvangelists: customers who have installed the Stratus preview application with their roadmap data, run their planning process for real with it and kept my inbox interesting with plenty of “Catherine, this is great but I need X to really make it work for us.”

If you are attending our RallyON conference on May 10 and 11, you’ll get to meet Chad. If not, track the Scaled Agile Delivery videos he has posted on his site. Thanks Chad for contributing so actively to Project Stratus!

As you can tell, it takes a while to get to the commercial product the right way to ensure the product will be a success for both Rally and its customers.

As we work at delivering the first release of our agile strategic planning product to support the first identified pattern, we are working with other Chads – Nina, Jeff, Dale, and others – to further our study of strategic planning patterns that would warrant product support. Please stay tuned.

Catherine Connor is a Product Marketing Director at Rally Software. She focuses on leveraging agile and lean values for the product manager role. She is the lead for Project Stratus.

 

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