Structured Approaches to Strategic Planning for Software Development

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Participants: Arthur, Erik, Teesha, Derek, Scott (facilitator)

Scott (intro): This is a prioritization process that I've used in the past as a consultant. Hearing from others, they've told me that this is a unique process. Is it actually? Has used this with half a dozen clients, but before that as a corporate manager in a number of ways.

Methodology overview: • It's simple! An excel spreadsheet - not a complicated tool. • Every organization has a list of to-do's, but writing them down is essential Keeping ideas in your head subjects them to mental influences, etc.. writing things down can help objectify and quantify priorities efficiently. • This can be used as more of a strategic roadmapping exercise, not for implementation or execution purposes. • You can use this framework as means to organize your groups priorities to: ⁃ bring potential new initiatives to your board ⁃ assess potential new projects -- e.g. a new accounting system!

4 Easy Steps: 1. Across the top row, each column gets a heading that comes out of the client's organizational mission and strategic priorities e.g. fund raising, growing membership, better programs / products, selling tickets, community development - also ones for risk / cost / level of effort e.g. steering committee comes out of a strategic meeting and agrees to establish the right metrics can also give specific weight across the different columns. which is more important than others? 2. Get all stakeholders together and vote on all cells from 0-5 -- for each idea, across all columns * important to view and discuss with ALL stakeholders 3. ADD! voila, the highest-score projects bubble to the top 4. Discuss the top options. If ordering appears off, then facilitate discussion between stakeholders on what's wrong with those models e.g. re-visit the cells to analyze their importance

Logistically, how does one go about actually filling this out? • Behind the scenes it's actually a very complex spreadsheet, but getting stakeholders to fill it out collaboratively in a conversation • In execution, the team size has been pretty small, so manually work-arounds aren't that expensive ⁃ For larger groups, other tools might make things more efficient / productive

And Then? • Dive into each of the top-level initiatives with internal task forces ⁃ As you get into lower levels of granularity, reality can set in! New issues may be found that influence priorities once again • A possible deliverable after this: which resources, and with how much effort, can be devoted to these initiatives at a given time ⁃ This can give senior management a tool to reflect on targets and talk about value delivery, not about "how many lines of code have you written?"

Warning! Here be Dragons: • Because of its objectivity, this is also useful tool to "say no to people" • Needs to be ingrained with an org that this is a tool for collaboration and development! not de-prioritization

Next Steps: The solution isn't documented, doesn't have a version or template for others to use, but has been meaning to document it for a while - maybe put it up on social source commons.

Reporter / Note-Taker: Derek Halliday / Guardian Project / derek@guardianproject.info

Sample Strategic Planning Matrix can be found at: Strategic Planning Matrix

or here Sample Weighted Strategy Matrix