Atern is a product (project management speak for deliverables) based approach, that uses delivery of the appropriate products to demonstrate progress - More effective that simple progress reports!


Missing products highlight potential risk, since the product set identifies what needs to be in place to allow a project to safely move forward.


Each phase of the lifecycle formally has products although not all are required and will depend on the project.



Pre-project formalise organisation’s proposal & place in context of the organisation’s other work

  • ToR, contains brief outline of the business need & objectives & scope of project to meet the need
  • Should be short & sharp
  • Scope Plan & resource next phase (Feasibility)


Feasibility: Determines if project is worthwhile, both technically (products can be built) & for the business (project contributes to strategic aims of the organisation & brings satisfactory benefit

  • Creates: Feasibility Assessment (is project worthwhile & doable), includes statement of
    • Outline biz case
    • Outline solution
    • Optional feasibility prototype
  • Outline plan
    • Overview of project based on PAQ
    • Approach to be adopted
    • Likely profile of resources required
    • Description of facilities & tools required to support iterative development process
    • Organisational structure & process for governance
    • Analysis of Risks & Issues impacting on feasibility of project
    • Outline schedule
    • Detailed plan for Foundations phase


Foundations: Aim is to establish firm & enduring foundations for project so the 3 essential perspectives of Business, solution (technical) & (project) management are satisfied that the project is well formed & it’s aims achievable (i.e. it can create what is needed to give the benefits wanted & that the project can be correctly managed).

Planning is high level; detail is provided by the solution development team when they plan their timeboxes.

Products created include:

  • Business foundations: Information & justification for project from a business perspective such as business vision & business case.
  • Management Foundations:
    • Governance & Organisational aspects of project
  • Solutions Foundations:
    • Business Area Definition
    • System Architecture Definition
    • Development Approach Definition
    • Solution Prototype
  • Prioritised Requirements List
    • High level list of requirements that need to be addressed to meet the business case
  • Delivery Control Pack:
    • Control docs & logs which allow the project to be monitored & controlled, typically:
      • Risks & Issue log
      • Change Control records
      • Periodic reports about project progress
  • Delivery Plan:
    • High level schedule of timeboxes, resources & activities covering the development & deployment of the Evolving Solution


Exploration & Engineering, often referred to as Development Timeboxes & combines to take the evolving solution to a point where it is possible to deploy the solution into a production environment. It may not be complete, but should be solid & workable.

May continue to evolve the solution by going through additional cycles of Exploration & Engineering.


Exploration, concerned with putting together required functionality for that part of the project (called an Increment), at end of Exploration phase we have a viable solution which demonstrates the full functionality needed. Does not have to be deployable in terms of robustness/scalability, this comes in the next phase Engineering


Engineering takes the viable solution & makes it deployable.

It is made stable & capable of handling the required work load, for example.


Each Exploration & Engineering phase sits in a Timebox & has rigid start and end dates. Products include:

  • Evolving Solution
  • Solutions Assessment Pack: Collection of items used to prove the evolving solution is being developed to meet the quality expected of it during this Timebox & consists of:
    • Solution Review Records
    • Business Testing Pack
    • Technical Testing Pack
  • Timebox plan: Plan for development Timebox
  • Timebox review record: produced & updated at the reviews that take place during a Timebox; describe what has been achieved to date plus provide source of feedback to the project
  • Deployment plan: detailed plan for the deployment phase which follows a cycle of development timeboxes
  • Benefits Realisation Plan


Deployment, focussed on getting the evolving solution into live use by implementing the deployment Plan from Exploration & Engineering

  • Concerns more than just bolting something into the business
  • Deals with documentation and training
  • Likelihood of solution to provide expected benefit is considered
  • Acts as a key review point, allowing next step of the project to be considered
  • Products include:
    • Project review report: updated at end of each deployment & should provide information to help assess the state of the Evolving Solution & benefits it will provide at this stage of the project. It contains:Project review report
      • Increment Summary
      • Benefits Enablement Summary
      • End of Project Assessment


Post-Project only occurs after the last deployment

  • Consists of performing Benefit Assessment examining the business value actually earned by the project
  • Typically 3 – 6 months after last deployment

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