Gain Agile Project Management Work Experience at Reach4Work

The image tells a story in a cartoon format. The customer would like a tree swing.
There are 12 stages in the cartoon story. Starting from the customer request through to the final product which is not what the customer wanted.

By David Bennett, R4W Project Enabler, ACMA, CGMA.

Summary: The image above is a parody drawn in cartoon style. It aims to illustrate how a customer's product requirements can be completely misunderstood during the various stages of project development.

The cartoon aims to make a joke about how each department in an organisation interprets and implements customer requirements; the customer would like a tree swing.

The first image shows a tree swing with three wooden seats. Later as you follow you will see the twelfth image shows a rubber tyre swing depicting what the customer really wanted. Here is a quick read guide explaining each image above.

Quick Easy Read Guide to the cartoon image above:

In stage one the customer describes what they want. In this case a tree swing, however specifics are overstated.

In stage two the tree image depicts how the project leader understood it.

In stage three the tree image depicts how the analyst designed it.

In stage four the tree image illustrates how the programmer wrote it.

In stage five the images illustrates what the beta testers received.

In stage six the image illustrates a large armchair hanging from a tree and the sun is shining, depicting how the business consultant described it.

In stage seven there is the image of no tree at all! This depicts how the project was documented.

In stage eight there is a drawing of the said tree with a single rope depicting what operations installed.

In stage nine there is a drawing of a wooden rollercoaster which jokes and depicts how the customer was billed.

In stage ten the cartoon depicts an image of a tree stump!! This is an indication of how the product was going to be supported.

In stage eleven, there is an image of the same tree painted black with a iSwing - a pun intended.

In stage twelve the final stage, there is an image of the original tree but this time it has a tyre hanging on rope and actually depicts what the customer really wanted.

The tree swing analogy first came in the 1970s and many versions came later on areas such as software design and management. These days the image is an old joke that reverberates around project management.

However, as with all jokes it works because there is a strong element of truth. Too often what is requisitioned is not understood and what is delivered is not what is required!  

The reason for this is often defined as a lack of communication and a large focus on project planning and delivery.

The Agile Manifesto

The software industry could not survive with out-of-date products being delivered. To combat this an Agile Manifesto was created and has taken root as the Agile Project Management methodology.

This methodology follows small steps and has a process through to testing.

Read on for a further drill down into the stages of Agile Project Management.

Iterative, incremental, and evolutionary 

In short, Agile project management looks to break project work into small steps. The intent is to reduce the amount of up-front planning and design.

Projects are run on iterations, or phases, these are short periods of time that last from a couple of days to one or two weeks.

Importantly these are distinct pieces of work that can be untaken by the members of the team. 

The “iteration” combines a cross functional team working together through each phase. The team work together through planning, analysis, design and unit and acceptance testing.

Upon completion of the iteration a working version is demonstrated to stakeholders to obtain feedback and buy into the project delivery and direction. This reduces risk and allows the project to adapt quickly to change. 

Through this incremental development process, projects have room to fail often and be realigned to project goals.

It is often said that by learning “what is wrong you find what is right!” This can happen through each phase, avoiding major reworking at final release date.  Multiple iterations are required to create the final product. At the end, the delivery of a working product that has gone through several iterations is a sign of success, as the product has evolved through collaboration. 

The main benefit of the Agile approach is the speed of development and mitigation of delivering a product that doesn’t meet user requirements. 

Agile Project Management Work Experience at BuDS

Buckinghamshire Disability Service, (BuDS) Offers Agile Project Management work experience within the Digital branch of Reach4Work programme. This is specifically set up for disabled job-seeker volunteers wishing to gain digital work experience by learning more about WordPress and website content management.

The team leads itself through group discussion before working in phases to create webpages on the WordPress platform.

Using the team’s cross functional skills, they deliver a small bundle of changes back to the product owner; in this case the trustee committee, who then consider and feedback. The volunteers gain real-world project management skills, so its a win-win for everyone. 

The end result, is that the participants on the Reach4Work project constantly contribute ideas until the product is ready for testing.   

The result is a live webpage or application built in iterations which in turn reduces the need fine detailed planning.  

We hope you find this article useful. Anyone with an interest in this way of working can volunteer for work experience and join the digital team to learn more. There are some eligibility criteria to complete which BuDS can discuss with you.

The digital team are always looking for people with creative and leadership talent to keep the workflow organic and ever evolving.  

The Reach4Work work experience project is suitable for disabled job-seekers between the ages of 16-24 years.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering you can email the Reach4Work project or telephone BuDS. Alternatively, please complete the contact form below with your contact details and someone will connect with you to discuss your aims. 


Phone: 01494 211179

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