The perfect delivery

The perfect delivery

I don’t think there can be many people working in digital, training in agile or leading a transformation programme that haven’t been asked at some point – “Is there such a thing as a perfect delivery?”, often followed by the horror question, “Can you give us an example?”.

I Googled ‘perfect delivery’ just out of interest and unless you’re a fan of childbirth or cricket then I suggest not going down that rabbit hole. 

Perfect is a great word. And it’s got a few meanings. One is about maths…so let’s not worry about that for now. However, the two meanings below are relevant I think.

  1. having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
  2. absolute; complete.

If we take number 1 above and think of it in an agile delivery sense we can break it down and look at it objectively.

So, ‘having all the required or desirable elements, qualities or characteristics’, well that one is easy. We…

  • deal in MVP
  • understand requirements and needs
  • deliver the ‘must haves’ first
  • take into account the non functional bits, which are the characteristics
  • test it to make sure it does what we set out for it to do
  • can be excused from the ‘desirable elements’ because they aren’t ‘needs’ 😉

And then we need to look at ‘as good as it is possible to be’. It doesn’t say, ‘as good as it is possible to be with unlimited time and money’. I mean, let’s be sensible here. Very few deliveries in the public sector will have a free rein on resources, or be given an open-ended timescale. (We can all dream).  So can we really deliver something that supports that claim? I think so. We will be delivering to those requirements, the ones we collected, shaped, validated and prioritised. That’s a pretty thorough approach I’d say, and one which if we deliver against them, would make something ‘as good as it is possible to be’, with the caveats of time and money!

Which by my reckoning means we can tick the box on definition 1 ✅

Now let’s move to definition number 2. ‘absolute; complete’.

Trickier. The word ‘absolute’ means that something is undiminished. And undiminished is unmodified or unadulterated. It is what it is. And again, if we go back to our requirements and we strongly stick to them and deliver against them, then we will be delivering the ‘absolute’. It0 won’t be modified to do something else. We won’t have added any bells and whistles. We will have all we must have.

And if I asked for a definition of ‘complete’ I think we would get close to something that has all the parts it needs. The bits that are necessary. And again, that’s what we should get if we deliver against the requirements.

So let’s just tally that up, and it’s another ✅

I’m sure anyone reading this will think I’m being overly simplistic. And I might be. But no one said that digital delivery had to be complicated. There are of course some things that will enable your ‘perfect delivery’ or one that is at least perfect for the users you are trying to support. Top 3 for me are –

1.       Discover the requirements – understand the problem, do the research, ask the questions.

2.       Refine the requirements – challenge the ‘as is’ thinking, look at the whole service end to end, only set out to deliver what is needed.

3.       Fight the creep – remember ‘absolute’ is something that isn’t embellished or modified. You can deliver something in many different ways; being agile and flexible is the basis for good delivery. What it doesn’t mean is that your delivery should grow or that you can add things in and still have the ‘perfect delivery’.

So on balance, do I think there is such a thing as ‘The Perfect Delivery’, then yes, I do. All deliveries will have blockers and difficult times, some will need more money, or more time, and some will need more help from people around you. But when you have your MVP and it’s put in front of people for testing and they turn around and say ‘that was easy’, I’ll take that as perfect any day of the week.

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