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Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

Sean Pizel Senior BPM Consultant

Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

Table of Contents
Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................ 2 The Goal of Playbacks .................................................................................................................... 3 Definitions ........................................................................................................................................ 3 Developing a Playback Strategy...................................................................................................... 3 The Complete Solution .................................................................................................................... 5 Constructing a Playback .................................................................................................................. 9 Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 12 Appendix A: A Case Study ........................................................................................................... 13 Appendix B: Final Thoughts ......................................................................................................... 15 For Additional Help ........................................................................................................................ 16

Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

The Goal of Playbacks


Many of the benefits associated with successful Lombardi BPM process improvement projects such as shortened requirements-gathering and testing periods rely on an Iterative Development approach that uses Playback reviews to engage and align business and technical stakeholders. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding of what a Playback is, and how multiple Playbacks work together to enable successful process implementations, can undermine those engagements. There are three common reasons why Playbacks fail: The goals and expectations of the Playback are not documented into a coherent strategy. The Playback Strategy is not followed. The Playbacks are not executed properly.

This document addresses each of those issues, providing guidelines and rules for using Playbacks to ensure the success of your process delivery.

Definitions
A Playback is a focused demonstration of a partially-implemented process application, delivered to the business and IT stakeholders for discussion, consensus-building and approval. Playbacks give stakeholders the opportunities to provide feedback that drive the next iterations of development. A Playback Strategy ensures that all Playbacks fit together to ensure a successful process implementation. A Playback is not an ad-hoc demo of a process. Just because the process was played-back doesnt mean you have done a Playback, any more than having a girl-friend means you have a girlfriend.

Developing a Playback Strategy


Elements of a Playback Strategy
At a high level, a Playback Strategy consists of the following:

Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

A published schedule of Playbacks that define significant project milestones. A comprehensive plan that covers all required elements of the solution. Sign-off after each milestone Playback.

Those three things, formalized into a strategy, cannot be allowed to slip. Beware the Path of Least Resistance: Fight any attempt to reduce the size of the audience. Often, excluding a participant is like sweeping dust under the rug. Try to address the root issues that might be driving the suggestions to exclude important participants. Don't overlook any parts of the solution in a Playback. Any part of the solution that is not addressed in a Playback may not be getting enough attention outside the Playback. Be sure to at least note the status of each part of the solution, even if the status is no progress. Do not skip a Playback to make up time. If you don't have time for a scheduled Playback, your project is already at risk.

Enabling Iterative Development


What exactly is the purpose of a Playback? A scoping tool, helping to define solution? A design tool, helping to refine the solution? A testing tool, helping to reduce UAT requirements? A change management tool, helping to socialize the solution?

The answer is all of the above. Most project plans that include Playbacks assume that the Playback will function in all of those capacities. This is why the Path of Least Resistance is so destructive: A missed Playback or an incomplete audience will affect the health of the project in ways that are not immediately apparent.

Playbacks: Whom and When?


Ensuring you have the right audience can be one of the most important and difficult challenges in developing a Playback Strategy. The audience is the driver for determining Frequency, Duration, Ground Rules, and Theme of each Playback.
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Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

Milestone Playback Each process project should have at least four "Milestone" Playbacks with the following audience: All business participants (at least one representative of each group) All business stakeholders in the process Report consumers (decision makers) Process owners Process developers Engagement manager Sales team (at least for initial Playbacks)

Not only do these people need to be in the room, it is important that the same audience be present at each of the four or more Milestone Playbacks. This will provide consistent feedback from each Playback to the next and foster ownership and buy-in of the ultimate solution. These Milestone Playbacks should review the business process from start to finish--even the first Playback should be able to accomplish this. Each new milestone may add a new level of detail. Focused Playback Given that a process may need additional iterations in front of some of these groups, smaller "Focused" Playbacks should be scheduled. A Focused Playback might include a deep-dive on a single activity and the Teamworks Coaches (user interfaces) for that activity. These sessions need to include representative participants that perform that process activity other participant groups, process owners and other process stakeholders may be optional attendees. It is beneficial to have one or two Focused Playbacks each week depending on the size of the process and the size of the development team.

The Complete Solution


In order for a Playback Strategy to be comprehensive, it must be based on a deep understanding of what is being delivered. In BPM, this is always defined by the target process. But it is also more than just the process. Ask the question, What is being delivered?

Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

Ownership The customers ability to implement new processes. The customers ability to change their processes. Process improvement capability, in general.

The Process Automation and user guidance to execute the process. Reports and visibility to manage the process.

Value Cost savings. Quality improvement. Other quantifiable improvements (supported by metrics).

Peace of Mind Very little of the above matters if they customer doesn't have confidence in you, your delivery team, and the solution you are delivering. The project needs to deliver some combination of these things. If these things arent a part of your Playback strategy, then they probably will not be delivered. Even the most process-oriented amongst us will be delivering more than just a process. The Playback can be the best place to deliver the other aspects of the solution.

Playback of Ownership
Customer ownership and control is one of the valuable underpinnings of any Lombardi BPM solution. The clear and powerful way to play back the ownership value of this solution is to have the Playbacks simulate the production environment, and let the customer drive the Playback. Customer-Delivered Playback The best Playbacks are those delivered by the process owners and not by the developers. This means if you are a consultant, your role in the Playback is best if it is a silent one. Your role in preparing for the Playback is to coach the presenters and act as the director of the production.

Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

Bite your tongue: Weigh intervention against the goal of customer ownership. Don't correct your presenters during the Playback. A few mistakes or misspoken items can often be ignored avoid the "expert" interruption while the process owner is trying to present.

When you do speak, tie everything back to the process owners.

Ultimately it is this simple: If the customer cannot run the Playback, they will have difficulty running the process. The Real World The most effective Playbacks take the least liberties with reality. They require little or no imagination on the part of the audience. There is no disconnection or gaps between what they are seeing and what will happen in production. Use the same mechanisms that users will use. Generally this mean use the Process Portal to start each process, check process status, and manage the team. Be wary of turning off screen-level and field-level validation in order to 'ease' the walkthrough. Validation is often essential to the process. Use multiple projectors to demonstrate the interaction between multiple process participants.

Tip: When using multiple projectors, use the screen that isnt active to provide context by showing the process model of the current in-flight instance. But be careful using two projectors will only lead to confusion if you havent prepared and practiced a well-rehearsed delivery.

Playback of the Process


Tactics When modeling a business process, the flow elements (branches, paths, events, splits, swim lanes) and patterns should be modeled in the Business Process Diagram (BPD) before constructing any back-end data objects, or embedding any functional logic in the components. The initial Playback sessions should be focused on verifying the process as depicted by the model. When the process-flow of the model has been determined with a reasonable amount of accuracy, functional Coaches can be constructed to help demonstrate the UI flows for user interactions. When building a Coach, the functional elements of the Coach (control types and layout) should be determined before constructing any visual sophistication (styles, fonts, dynamic

Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

UIs) or back-end data objects that will supply the Coach with data. Coaches typically undergo many changes during the initial development, so any visual design or data binding work is likely to need revision if it is built too soon. The later Playback sessions should be focused on verifying the functional layout of the Coach. The Process Portal If the customer is not building a custom portal they will use the native Teamworks Process Portal consequently, it needs to be used in the Playback. As a rule, you will want to: Use the Portal to start task Use the Portal to run tasks Use the Portal to view the process status Use the Portal to reassign tasks

If this Portal usage and configuration is not a focus for the delivery team, it will be a nightmare for a customer. Set up the default sort order in your Portal History view. Create, explain, and use Saved Searches if the out-of-box Portal views dont satisfy the users requirements well. Consider Portal presentation starting with the first day of developing the process. Each day the process application is shown with cryptic Process Names, meaningless Task Subjects, inaccurate Due Dates, and placeholder Coaching text, the more users may doubt the value and ease-of-use of the process solution. If you are executing a customer-led Milestone Playback, the customer (like real end users) will be unable to use the Authoring Environment to see what happened to a task after each user interaction. Make sure process status can be seen easily using the Portal. If you are in control of the Playback, you should play the role of user, showing only what a real user can do using the Portal.

The Total Solution: Playback of Value


A customer should articulate the value they expect to achieve with the process solution. A strength of Teamworks is that the value proposition can be made crystal clear in the process Playback.

Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

A Playback strategy that focuses solely on the technology runs the risk of taking the value proposition for granted. And a process that does not deliver value is a failure. Demonstrate ROI using established metrics. If metrics have not been determined, that should be an immediate priority. Custom reports and Scoreboards need to be tested and refined just as much as the process itself. Dont wait until the last Playback to show a report. Scoreboards should be designed before the process has been modeled. Show how the native Teamworks Scoreboards manage the process. Practice the Playback demonstration, because if you stumble, the stakeholders could lose their confidence in the solution. Hints and Tips: Seed the process with some Overdue and At Risk tasks that make the Scoreboards come to life Plant a simulated problem in your reports for discussion during a Playback. That discussion can lead to a process or configuration (e.g., EPV) change in this Playback or the next.

Constructing a Playback
Once a successful Playback Strategy is determined, and the scope of the solution is understood in its entirety, the individual Playbacks will be constructed.

Playback Basics
Limit yourself to one process per Milestone Playback, unless the process is short and the audiences are identical. Provide proper context. Set aside time for questions. Don't let Milestone Playbacks dissolve into solution sessions. Set a timeline of 60-90 minutes. Record the Playback for later review.

A Typical Agenda Introduction [by Process Owner] (5 min)

Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

What is BPM [by BPM Advocate] (5 min) Process Visibility [by Process Owner or Stakeholders] (5 min) Project Description & Milestones [by Project Manager](5 min) The Playback [by Representative Participants and/or Process Owner] (40 min) Feedback & Discussion lead [by PM or Tech Lead] (30 min)

What is BPM?, Process Visibility, Project Description and Milestones are all short minipresentations that provide context, and answer the question Why are we all here? They may be repeated as often as needed during multiple Playbacks to ensure a consistent message and uniform understanding.

Rehearsal and Planning


Yes, rehearsal! Remember the butterflies you'd get before acting in that play in middle school? A little bit of anxiety is good. Treat each Milestone Playback as a new production. It is likely the members of your audience (business stakeholders, process owners) are senior managers and their time is important. Keep the Playback to 60-90 minutes to demonstrate business value and the progress of the process solution. Before a first Playback of the customer's first project, plan to have three or four 1-hour rehearsals with the team of presenters. Assign the roles ... it is good to have 2, 3, or 4 presenters alternating between topics and/or slides. It is good to have the Process Owner do the introduction. Make sure all the actors know their parts ... practice, practice, practice. Preview the room and test the equipment. Make sure the room is large enough to comfortably accommodate your audience and that each seat has good view of the screen(s). Things to consider and address before the Playback: The personalities of the audience. Any negative stakeholders or politics.

Ground Rules and a Theme Playbacks will occur while the process is in varying states of completion. For each Playback, set a theme that tells the audience what aspects of the process are being discussed, and what aspects aren't being discussed. A series of focused Playbacks might have the following theme progression: "What, Who, How". Milestone Playback themes might be "Validation, Integrations, and Exceptions" where each of those terms is used in its most general sense.
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Maximizing the Payback of Playbacks

A ground rule might be "To foster complete understanding, no part of the process is out of scope in this discussion."

A ground rule might be "Communication will be open and honest." Impress upon the audience that a straightforward answer will not be used against them later.

Even when Playbacks dont unfold as planned, Ground Rules and Themes help keep things on track. Begin each Playback by establishing Ground Rules and setting expectations with the Theme.

Set Roles
In order for Playback to be effective, multiple people have to be working in concert. The following defined roles are almost always necessary: Facilitator This will be either someone in the development team, or maybe even someone in the business team. In either case the facilitator needs to be a forceful presence. Keep the conversations relevant to the theme. Place issues that arise in the parking lot for later discussion. Don't be afraid to time box conversation. Improvise.

Note Taker / Scribe If you are not facilitating the Playback, you can play the role of the note taker or scribe. Capture those new / missing / enriched business requirements. Document any decisions made. The Milestone Playback is not the place to discuss and solve most issues. The note taker (or a dedicated Parking Lot Attendant) should capture any topics that have been deferred for later discussion and record them in the Parking Lot. Parking Lot Attendant If many issues and discussions are being deferred, the Parking Lot should be recorded on paper, a PowerPoint slide, a snapshot, etc. The Parking Lot can then be displayed in the next Playback, and used as a checklist of resolved issues during the demonstrations. This level of visibility ensures that you are not trying to hide any issues under the rug.

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Actors Actors should understand and rehearse their role in the process Playback. Actors should be comfortable using the Portal to execute tasks and view task status.

Improving Effectiveness of Playbacks


Ensure a common vocabulary. Ensure that there is a consistent use of such terms as Activity, Step, Task, KPI, Metric, etc. Find a friend who will help you with the weaknesses in your presentation delivery, or watch and listen to a recording of yourself. You may be mumbling, uttering "uh" every few seconds, or rocking back and forth to the point of distraction. Offer constructive criticism to your fellow presenters. A little instruction can improve a presentation dramatically. To make sharing criticism easier, you may want to explain before a rehearsal that everyone is going to offer constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement after the rehearsal is complete. Then it is expected and no-one feels targeted.

Conclusion
Lombardis proven Playback methodology allows all facets of the process solution, including process-ownership and value, to be demonstrated as it will exist in production. Following these guidelines and recommendations to create a comprehensive Playback Strategy with robust, customer-driven Milestone Playbacks will maximize the payback and success of your Playback delivery approach.

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Appendix A: A Case Study


A large company had been using Teamworks as its development platform for a new project, and although they already used many elements of Agile development (like Sprints and Daily Standup meetings), they did not adopt a strong Playback strategy. Instead of frequent Focused Playbacks and scheduled Milestone Playbacks, all interaction between the stakeholders and the process developers went through business analysts. So while the development cycles remained quick and efficient, many aspects of the delivery suffered: Value: The value of the process was measured against its adherence to the written requirements which did not contain a strong value proposition. If they would have conducted a Milestone Playback early, the stakeholders and developers would have all been forced to demonstrate ROI, by showing meaningful report prototypes and end-to-end process walkthroughs. Instead, the first iterations invariably focused more on screen flows and only selected portions of the process. Ownership: Without direct interactions with the nascent process, the Process Owner was too far away from the development to take meaningful responsibility. This had other side effects: for example, exception handling was approached as a purely technical consideration, when in fact it is an important business decision that was not addressed. Steps in the Right Direction It is difficult and usually counter-productive to attempt to implement a fully realized Playback Strategy right out of the gate in this situation. But a couple of initial steps can help: The Process Developer can begin to attend the requirements-gathering sessions with the Business Analyst. The Process Developer can teach the Business Analyst how to Playback the process to the stakeholders. By implementing these two simple steps, the company immediately realized the following benefits: While attending his first requirements gathering session, the process developer, who is well trained to think in terms of metrics, heard the users mention a trend forecasting report. Until then the concept of a trend report had not made it into the written requirements, but these uttered comments allowed the developer to create a prototype

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report that shifted the focus away from simple blind automation towards value-driven process improvement. While training the Business Analyst how to play back the process in a true Playback fashion (staying as closely to reality as possible), the analyst became more familiar with Teamworks and was able to broaden the definition of requirements to include Ownership considerations, exception handling, portal configuration, and reporting dashboards. Ultimately the Business Analyst who was already overburdened and a bottleneck in the requirements-gathering process had to take on the additional burden of providing focus Playbacks. But once everyone overcame the initial reticence of demonstrating an unfinished process in front of the users, and the stakeholders were conditioned to iterate through design considerations, the natural shift towards a mature Playback Strategy began to follow.

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Appendix B: Final Thoughts


Here are some final thoughts to consider as you prepare to deliver great Playbacks (in the spirit of You might be a redneck ): You didn't prepare enough if you didn't rehearse. you didn't rehearse over Video Teleconference (if appropriate). Youre headed for trouble if, between rehearsals and the Playback you change the process. the number of projectors. You messed up if, during the Playback, the audience learns how to use the Process Inspector. sees the word "Untitled1". spends more than a cursory amount of time discussing prioritization and tradeoffs. You forgot something if, at the end of the Playback, the audience doesn't know how the process affects them and how it is good for their company. when the next Playback is, and what will be shown. the name, email address, desk location, and cell phone number of the person taking feedback. You didnt have a strong enough theme if, during the Playback, the audience chooses Dissention. Disenfranchisement. Confusion.

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For Additional Help


Lombardis chief mission is to help companies define, implement, and execute their strategic process improvement initiatives successfully through BPM Programs. We are already helping hundreds of companies around the world navigate their BPM journey, providing education and assistance to their BPM teams along the way. We would be glad to explain how you can leverage Lombardis proven BPM Program know how to maximize your success. To learn more, please contact your Lombardi representative, or send us an email at info@lombardi.com.

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