In the previous article, I explained how important it is to look at your project from the market perspective, and that it’s essential to follow at least some basic principles when you work on your project on idea level. Now it’s time to discuss the idea that we are going to implement in the following weeks.
- A live-case study project idea will be “a tool supporting project estimations creation”.
- It will be a project that will operate on the existing market of Project Management tools.
- It will help with saving money and time.
- This project can scale up to the global market.
- It will solve one problem of creating accurate and fast requirements estimation.
It is something that I’m facing in my daily work, and I think that it applies to thousands of other people in my position. In my job, I wear various hats, but the project manager role is the lion’s share of my day. I’m responsible for collecting the requirements from my clients and explaining these high-level requirements into technical tasks that are done by my team. It is something that might sound boring to most of you, but it gives me a lot of satisfaction because working on requirements I have an impact on how the project will work.
What I’m doing, by collecting the requirements, I’m making the estimates, and this is a keyword — estimates. Because the budget estimation required to create a functionality requested by the client is a crucial factor for my customers, it allows them to decide whether to give the green light to start the implementation of particular features or not. The challenge I’m facing is that these requirements are coming from various places. I’m collecting them from emails, while I’m speaking over the phone or a when on a conference call, from PDFs, multiple types of documents, presentations even, and spreadsheets. My current approach to handle these requirements that are coming from various places is to use spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are good. Everybody loves spreadsheets! I’m using Google Docs because it allows me to easily share the documents that I’m working on with my colleagues and with the clients.
There are other challenges and other problems that are appearing while working with these. For instance, I cannot easily track the previous estimates for a particular client. I walk through all the spreadsheets manually, check what the initial estimation was, and how does it fall into new requirements. Another problem is when there are a lot of requirements. It isn’t straightforward to keep track which features are complete, in progress or pending approval, and keep track of the status what’s going on. Other things I think that also applies to other companies is that when a client comes and asks whether a particular feature is not working as it was working before. What we are doing then, we are referring to the project documentation, and we are trying to find out how it should work. In the documentation, it seems like it should work this way, but it was working a different way as the client remembers it. What happens is that there was a feature that changed the functionality of a particular component. However, it was such a small change that nobody remembers it, even the client. It leads to the time-consuming actions that I have to do and eventually to modern those because it makes me work on other things and trying to chase what’s going on and keep track of things, rather than working on something that I should work on that are more important.
What could help me in my work, make my life more comfortable, and make me more productive? It could be a tool that would help me to create these estimates conventionally, something that would allow me to easily share these estimates with my clients and keep track of the previous estimates that I’ve made. And if such a tool would create a forecast based on the information from the previous estimates that will be just awesome.
So let’s use and apply the theory from the previous article to this new idea that I think I’m going to implement. Let’s consider this from the market perspective. This tool falls into the second group of projects which operate on an existing market because there are tools that are doing something similar that I’m going to do. It is a good thing because there is a market need and I am a great example that there is a need for such tools. I’ve done a little bit of research. However, I’ll cover this in the next video. I’ve been trying to use some of these tools, but none of them was the right fit for me.
Regarding the principles that I am going to follow: the first principle which is about whether the project allows you to earn money, save money or save time for my customers (and me as well). I don’t believe it will enable me to make money because I’ll be able to create these estimates without such a tool as I’m using the spreadsheets. So it is not allowing me to earn money. However, it for sure helps me to save money because if I’ll accurately provide these estimates and I won’t do the underestimate, which sometimes happens, then my company won’t lose money on implementing these features that are requested. Also, I think this is something that will help to save time because right now I’m spending a lot of time when I’m doing these estimates and having such a tool that will help me to gather and collect these requirements from my clients and make these estimates more easily. I think I will save a lot of time for myself.
Considering the second principle, which is about scalability, I think this project is scalable because I can start with the local market of my direct competitors, companies that are providing the same services like my company. They are likely to face the same issues I do. Then I can scale up to national market because there are hundreds of companies that are delivering services similar to what is my company offering, and then I can go worldwide. At least this is something that I think.
The final principle. As you can see, I’m talking about solving a particular problem which is making accurate estimates in a fast way. I’m not very concerned about what it will look like, and what exactly features it will have, whether it will allow me to share the estimates or make some statistics. Probably it will, however, this is not the most important thing that I’m considering at the moment.
What To Do Next?
Having covered all of these principles and thinking from the market perspective, now it’s the time to validate the idea. To validate the idea at the beginning, at the idea level, I will start with the market research, and this is something that will be covered next.