Developing high-quality software, efficiently and effectively, is tough in today’s fast-paced, complex business and technology environment, and one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that all business and IT stakeholders have a common understanding of what they are supposed to deliver.
Failure to align business partners’ understanding with those of the development team early and often in a project ultimately leads to rework in both Agile and Waterfall projects. In Waterfall projects, teams usually don’t uncover a misalignment until the project’s end, which can be catastrophic. In Agile projects, teams may find alignment issues at the end of a sprint, but the result is the same: rework, budget overruns, and delayed releases.
These disconnects also harm the long-term relationship between business and IT, leading to a lack of business’ trust in IT’s ability to deliver.
The Power of Visualization in Business-IT Alignment
High-quality business requirements are key to establishing and maintaining a common understanding among project stakeholders. Increasingly, organizations are using visualization – the creation of models, diagrams, and mockups that augment traditional textual requirements – to deliver them.
The use of visualization in requirements management supports improved business-IT alignment, because:
- Visuals support improved collaboration and communication. Business and IT stakeholders speak different languages. People also learn differently: Studies show 65% of the population learns visually and that visuals have been found to improve learning by up to 400 percent. The addition of models to textual requirements provides an added level of information to ensure a common understanding between business and IT. It also supports deeper, collaborative analysis to identify missing requirements and understand the impact of change.
- Purely textual requirements don’t scale well. Text can represent simple requirements, like “The system shall sign a customer out after 15 minutes.” When processes become more complex, however, the volume of text needed to completely represent requirements becomes cumbersome to consume. While business stakeholders understand the myriad of nuances in their day-to-day processes, IT stakeholders don’t. Adding a visual layer to requirements enables teams to understand the small (but important) details upon which they need to agree.
- It leads to better outcomes – both short- and long-term. Visualization leads to stronger requirements in both Agile and Waterfall projects, which lead to less rework and faster, cheaper delivery of high-quality software. That leads to higher customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to more trust between business and IT. This is not just a short-term benefit. With every successful project comes more respect and trust.
If you want to improve the relationship between business and IT in your organization, adopt the best practice of visualization in all projects, regardless of methodology. Improved business-IT alignment is not the only benefit: We’re exploring other important benefits of visualization in future blog posts, so please check back to learn more about the concepts of visualization and how Blueprint supports them to align business and IT with a common understanding.
For more information on how Blueprint aligns business strategies through visualization, please contact us today.