Crawl, Walk, Run...

You don't have to be a Project Management genius to know that having a structure to projects is one key to their ultimate success.  In Technology, particularly in Education, we love to use a very simple method for breaking a project up into pieces the Customer can swallow.

Crawl.  Walk.  Run.

Pretty simple, right?  So what does it mean?

Well, Crawl is obviously the beginning stages of a project, and crawling generally starts BEFORE a good project.  Being intentional, critical, and pragmatic before and during the Crawl phase of a project is an absolute must.  Set goals.  Establish a rough timeline.  Consider how you're going to sell that new widget to the User, the most highly adaptable species on the planet.  Users can sink even the most precisely planned project, if they want to.  The trick for us is, lets figure out a way to get the Users to LOVE what we're doing and make it their own.  Crawling sets us up for Walking.  Executive sponsorship, and a validated need for your project are critical at this phase for your ultimate success

Walking - simple enough.  Your project is now up on its legs, wobbling out of the Crawl phase and intent on getting the Walking thing down.  During the Walk phase of a project, you might  develop enough to not just consult with the Users, but to directly involve them.  In this stage, the key is to build, test (i.e. have the user try), and improve.  The tighter this cycle, the better your project will run and the higher the likelihood that the Users won't revolt and sink your perfectly good project.

Running is where some of the hardest work of the project comes in.  As you move your project toward production, Users will pop out of the woodwork with "well, if it only did THIS", or "hey, why didn't you ask me what it should do?"  Best advice - roll with the punches and try to make those "difficult" Users, the ones who don't want to change and can sink a perfectly sound and sturdy ship, raving fans.

Crawl, Walk, Run.  That concludes our lesson for today.  As always, this advice comes with a threshold guarantee - when you cross the threshold there's no guarantee.  But this approach works for us at TechPlanning, and I'll bet you can use or adapt it for your use, if you want to.