You know the typical project cycle. You gather the requirements, create the designs, develop the product, do the tests and put it all into production. It’s clear, simple and very straight-forward, right? It’s never that simple. If it was, then doing things over-time and over-budget wouldn’t be the norm!
For most projects, losing time and money stems from finding issues at the very end of the life-cycle, when they’re more expensive and more time-consuming to take care of. So how can you manage your next project to find these issues earlier in the cycle? By conducting Early Lifecycle Validation.
What is Early Lifecycle Validation (ELV)?
ELV came about right around the same time as project teams began to switch to agile management. When teams began to assess where they could eliminate waste, they began testing as early as possible in the life-cycle. This would allow them to ensure that they were on the right path and avoid costly errors that would be even more expensive down the road.
How can you do it?
1. Communicate the value of ELV up front
Before you begin the project, you will need to get everyone on board with ELV. This is an extra step, so share the importance of why you are doing it with all stakeholders in the project. Be sure to stress the benefits of ELV, the approach your team is taking, and your approval process.
2. Make it a part of the plan
Plan to do ELV after each phase of the project. This may seem like overkill, but any issues or ambiguities that you can refine will save you exponential time down the road.
3. Use the right tools
Because you’re adding steps to the project, you’re going to want to save time where possible. Adding the right tools to plan, run, and manage your testing throughout the project will make the process much easier.
4. Review and document
Chances are stakeholders may still be skeptical of the importance of ELV. Prove its worth by conducting periodic reviews and documenting all defects or issues that are found in the early stages of the project.
So where does UAT come into the mix?
All of this testing is in place to ensure that the system is being built according to the original functional requirements. But it doesn’t take into account how the system will be used in the real world by users. At each of these stages of the project lifecycle, it is extremely beneficial to include real users in the process. UAT catches the biggest issues of all - those that don’t meet the end goals of the user. This process usuxzally takes place at the end of a project, but that is actually the most costly time to do it.
Project teams that involve their users at the end of the each step of the project cycle can catch when they’re off the mark right away. This allows them to iterate and adjust based on the feedback when it only takes hours, rather than days or weeks, to make the changes.
Planning a project with this amount of testing is neither easy or cheap. It costs a lot to set up tests and get users on the system - even in its early stages. So it’s important to have your team understand the importance of why you’re conducting the tests with your users, and have tools that can help you manage the process more quickly and efficiently.