8 Principles

Non adherence / compromising the principles undermines the philosophy and is considered a risk.


Discuss the principles at the start of the project & ensure buy-in.


Symbol Summary Description
1 Focus on business need Deliver what the business needs when it needs it. The true business priorities must be understood with a sound business case.

  • Understand business priorities
  • Establish business case
  • Seek continuous business sponsorship & commitment
  • Guarantee Minimum Usable Subset
2 Deliver on time Timeboxes are planned in advance and the timeframe set. The dates never change; features are varied depending on business priorities, in order to achieve the deadline.

  • Timebox the work
  • Focus on business priorities
  • Always hit deadlines
3 Collaborate Teams work in a spirit of active co-operation and commitment. Collaboration encourages understanding, speed and shared ownership. The teams must be empowered and include the business representatives.

  • Encourages increased understanding, greater speed & shared ownership
  • Involve right stakeholders at the right time
  • Ensure team members are empowered to make decisions
  • Actively involve business
  • Build a one team culture
  • Atern Business Visionary, Business Ambassador and Business Advisor roles bring appropriate subject matter experts into project to contribute to solution
  • Business analyst is responsible for facilitating high level collaboration between team members
  • Facilitated workshops enable stakeholders to share knowledge with the project team
4 Never compromise on quality A solution has to be “good enough”. The level of quality is set at the outset. Projects must test early and continuously and review constantly.

  • Level of quality is agreed at the start
  • Work is aimed at achieving that level, no more, no less
  • Solution has to be good enough
  • If the business agrees features in Minimum Usable Subset have been provided, then the solution should be acceptable
    • Ensure quality does not become a variable
    • Design, document and test appropriately
    • Build in quality by constant reviews
    • Test early & continuously
    • MoSCoW & timeboxing ensure testing is appropriate, without introducing unnecessary risks
5 Build incrementally from firm foundations Increments allow the business to take advantage of work before the final product is complete, encouraging stakeholder confidence and feedback.  This is based on doing just enough upfront analysis to proceed and accepting that detail emerges later.

  • EDUF (Enough design Up Front)
  • Incremental delivery
  • Increments deployed into operational use for early ROI
  • Strive for early delivery of business benefit where possible
  • Continually confirm correct solution being built
  • Formally re-assess priorities & project viability with each delivered increment
  • Implement this principle using Atern lifecycle
6 Develop Iteratively Accept that work is not always right first time. Use Timeboxes to allow for change yet continuously confirm that the solution is the right one.

  • EDUF (Enough Design Up Front)
  • Iterative approach on all projects
  • Build customer feedback into each iteration
  • Accept most detail emerges later rather than sooner
  • Embrace change, the right solution will not emerge without it
  • Be creative, experiment, learn, evolve
7 Communicate continuously & clearly Use facilitated workshops, daily standups, modeling, prototyping, presentations and encourage informal face-to-face communication.

  • Run daily stand-ups
  • Facilitated workshops
  • Rich communication techniques such as modelling & prototyping
  • Present instances if the evolving solution early & often
  • Keep documentation lean & timely
  • Manage stakeholder expectations throughout the project
  • Encourage informal face to face communication at all levels
8 Demonstrate control The team needs to be proactive when monitoring and controlling progress in line with Foundations Phase. They need to constantly evaluate the project viability based on the business objectives.

  • Monitor & control progress in line with foundation phase products, especially the business case
  • Use appropriate level of formality for tracking & reporting
  • Make plans & progress visible to all
  • Measure progress through focus on delivery of specialist products, rather than complicated activities
  • Manage pro-actively
  • Evaluate continuing project viability based on business objectives

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