How to deliver better digital projects (and lower costs)
Much of the current best practice for managing digital projects – such as Kanban, and more generally lean thinking – has its roots in manufacturing. This is no coincidence.
Digital projects are a manufacturing process
All production processes work in the same way. They take raw materials, apply a process and turn them into a new product of greater value than the inputs. This holds whether you’re making a lamp post, a ship, a website or a mobile app.
Digital businesses are manufacturing companies too, we just use a different set of raw materials. In place of sheet metal, nuts and bolts we use content (copy, artwork, photography, video), data sets, programming languages, libraries and frameworks.
And where physical manufacturing uses heavy machinery, digital projects are built with our brains. It’s the way we apply our knowledge and creativity that determines the outputs.
We’ve had our industrial revolution...
There are important lessons to be learned from traditional manufacturing. Prior to the industrial revolution, goods were crafted on an individual basis with primitive tools. This is equivalent to when software was written in machine-specific assembly language or websites were created as a series of individual HTML files.
The industrial revolution brought mechanisation to the manufacturing world, enabling goods to be produced faster and cheaper than ever before. This happened in the knowledge world too, with high level programming languages and frameworks making software applications easier to develop, and content management systems delivering fully featured websites quickly and easily.
But just because we have the mechanisation and tools available doesn’t mean the process works perfectly. Think of British Leyland. They had the raw materials and the right tools but couldn’t produce high quality products that customers valued. In contrast, the Japanese obsessed over quality and process and were so much more successful.
The same is true when delivering digital projects. We have better tools than ever before, but projects are becoming more complicated and harder to deliver. Gone are the days when a difficult digital project could be turned around with a solid weekend of graft; we’re not building websites by the number of pages any more!
The key to great digital projects
To succeed, digital projects need to be delivered using repeatable processes with an inherent focus on quality. Lessons learned from previous projects need to be absorbed through a culture of continuous improvement.
Working in a standardised manner brings numerous benefits:
- waste, such as bug fixing, is minimised
- delivery teams can scale quickly and easily
- quality improves naturally over time
- creativity increases as less time is spent on standard components
- stress levels are reduced and the work becomes enjoyable again!
Ultimately, greater value is added to the ‘raw materials’ at lower cost, benefiting both the supplier and their customers.
Too many digital businesses have yet to realise the benefits of process optimisation. They may have the latest tools and superb staff, but without the right processes and operations in place, quality is reduced, costs are higher, profits are eroded and creativity is stifled.
Tall Projects works with leading digital delivery clients such as agencies and growing technology firms to implement market-leading processes and operations. We create and foster a culture of continuous improvement that enables our clients to deliver greater value and higher quality at lower cost.
If lacklustre processes are limiting the success of your business, contact us today for a free consultation.
Derived from The All-New Range Rover | Manufacturing Shots © 2012 Land Rover MENA. Licenced under CC BY 2.0.
Derived from Austin Allegro Registration ca 1975 © 2008 Charles01. Licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0.