A global retailer undertook a massive, multi-continent ERP upgrade to bring all regions in line. Leaders at the company contracted a large consulting company to develop an RFP for the implementation and ensure it would address the use cases for all regions. IT leadership also engaged Kalles Group to bolster internal project management and ensure cohesive collaboration between corporate and satellite teams.
Requirements needed to be documented in the form of user stories for dozens of groups in dozens of offices in multiple countries. The quality and comprehensiveness of the user stories would determine the effectiveness of the ERP solution worldwide.
The client had not put in place the quality checkpoints to ensure the user stories produced by the agency leading the effort were effective.
As the user stories started rolling in, Kalles Group observed some significant quality issues:
- The local teams were simply documenting their current processes, as opposed to their true requirements
- As variations were discovered, new user stories were added instead of looking for commonalities and defining one comprehensive story
- This yielded thousands of user stories, including many redundancies and unrelated scenarios
- The stories themselves were poorly constructed, poorly translated, and could not be understood by non-subject-matter-experts
From a higher, organization-level perspective, the Kalles Group team pointed out that the user story documentation project goals themselves were out of alignment. The agency leading the international teams in user story development measured their progress based on number of stories as opposed to construction quality and how well requirements were captured.
Since these problems threatened the implementation timeline, the client asked Kalles Group to step in and assist the team in the quality review.
After the internal US team had conducted a number of rounds reviewing each individual story independently without producing the intended impact, the Kalles Group team proposed a change in approach – reviewing and evaluating the already-created stories holistically to eliminate duplicates, identify common processes with reusable stories, and evaluate the relevance to user interaction with the ERP as opposed to legacy systems.
So as not to impact the ongoing work and deadlines, the Kalles Group team piloted this approach with a subset of user stories in one business area (roughly one third of total stories) as a proof of concept while the rest of the client team continued their current approach reevaluating user stories for the other business areas.
Proof of Concept
The Kalles Group team applied their expert knowledge of enterprise software implementation and Agile practices to perform an in-depth analysis of the pilot group of user stories to:
- Consolidate similar processes into one common set of stories and add unique variations for specific situations as needed
- Streamline the story sets for repeatable processes that could be defined once and referenced wherever that process was invoked
- Eliminate user stories for tasks performed manually and in legacy systems that were not being replaced
The team made recommendations to restructure stories and remove identified duplicates. Where needed, Kalles Group consultants also provided new or rewritten versions of existing stories for clarity.
Kalles Group proved that the client could use a holistic approach to condense and hone the user stories and keep the project on track for successful launch.
The client was able to leverage the Kalles Group team’s recommendations and adopt a new methodology for their review and revision of the remaining user stories. The originally unplanned, crisis-driven effort was restructured into a more cohesive, better-constructed set of requirements.
Kalles Group’s approach resulted in a 62% reduction in the number of stories. The new story set was streamlined with better flow and applicability to all geographic regions, to better ensure global adoption.
Additionally, with this effort, the Kalles Group team emboldened the client team to think outside the box, providing guidance in user story construction, Agile best practices, and a structured, holistic approach to tackle complex problems.