Companies that sell products have an easier time demonstrating the value of their offerings upfront to their customers. But for companies that deliver services, the value of an offering can only be measured in terms defined in terms of its delivery. That’s why leading teams are adopting RAPID, a delivery model built atop core agile principles and delivered through a weekly sprint cadence.
Sharing the secret sauce
Services firms tend to be secretive about their delivery models. That could be because they consider their service model their secret sauce and do not want competitors to leverage their intellectual property. Or it may be due to wanting to just not want their customers to see all the workings that underlie what is visible from the engagement model. But being open and transparent about delivery models benefits everyone involved, and that is one of the guiding principles of the Rapid delivery model.
RAPID is not just a delivery model; it is also a growth framework and an approach to executing work. With its roots in foundational agile concepts, the model can be applied to any software development or project delivery context. Its principles and concepts still apply to any business because RAPID is all about building the most valuable resource of all – trust.
A unified concept for delivery and development
RAPID not only outlines how Salesforce admins engage with stakeholders but also defines and sets expectations for performance and development. Each of the five pillars and their supporting skill sets help admins identify their competencies and skill proficiency levels. When they want to upskill, the growth and development resources within the organization that create value for the admins and the stakeholders they serve.
The five pillars of RAPID
The first goal is to identify, understand, and help inform the stakeholder’s objectives. Admins need to be sure that they have everything they need to complete their tasks, including an accurate understanding of their stakeholder’s requests and joint alignment on priorities.
Armed with that understanding, they can take a proactive role in advising and recommending the right solutions, alternatives, and technical approaches for their stakeholder’s unique needs. They bring strong business acumen to the table by asking the right questions, gathering and documenting data, and understanding the stakeholder’s needs. Finally, they can lean on their personal or collective team experience to move the project forward.
A clear idea of the ultimate objective is essential to meeting expectations in any situation, but it becomes even more important for those working remotely. When you are not meeting face-to-face with your stakeholders, it is imperative that you are clear about the work to be performed and the definition of done.
Historically, documenting these things was encouraged for early risk mitigation. In today’s modern work environment, it becomes vital for successfully operating in a distributed team structure.
After clarifying the objective, an admin scopes the work required to achieve the objective and communicates their findings to the stakeholder to set the best expectations possible. Everyone knows, understands, and agrees what tasks will be done and when they will be complete. If there is any disagreement on scope or timeline, the two parties discuss what is feasible within the given constraints until a mutually agreed upon outcome is identified.
Setting and maintaining clear expectations requires many skills, both interpersonal and technical, to convey the right level of information to someone in the most receptive manner. This is the stage for building trust: when you set an expectation with someone, you are essentially making a promise. If that expectation is met, trust is built or reinforced. If that expectation is missed, trust is lost or weakened.
After successfully aligning with the stakeholders, admins outline a plan for execution, balancing between finding the most efficient use of their time with managing tradeoffs between risks and dependencies. They act as project managers, delivering value within the constraints of time, scope, and budget, while also taking the individual stakeholder’s priorities into account.
The success of planning is predicated not just on the recognize and align steps that precede it but on the admins’ confidence in their ability to execute that plan. A winning mindset is vital to successful planning.
Salesforce admins have to not just plan their assignments from stakeholders; they also have to manage their own schedule. That includes pursuing additional training and certifications, responsibilities of providing care for their loved ones, and the pursuit of their own interests and passions.
Planning each week’s sprints is not just about work, it is also about life. That acknowledgment is a big part of what makes the fractional employment model so successful. Instead of work and life competing with each other, they are finding ways to coexist in harmony with each other.
You can’t have execution without problem-solving, which involves three dimensions: resourcefulness, creativity, and commitment. Sometimes it means breaking something down into smaller, more manageable components. Sometimes it means ideating an entirely new approach to a challenge. And sometimes it just means not giving up until you’ve given it your all!
Implementation is not just about getting stuff done; it’s about leveraging all of the resources and support structures available to work more effectively and efficiently. There are so many technologies out there that it is impossible for any one person to be deeply skilled in all of them.
Technical admins thrive when they are encouraged to learn about technologies that are of interest to them — even if it’s not immediately applicable to the organization. Carving out time for them to grow individually keeps them engaged and excited to share their learnings and insights with others, which contributes to their collective knowledge and capability.
Value has not been truly delivered until the stakeholder fully understands what has been done and how the impact of that work will be felt. This usually means going the extra mile to write documentation, record a video demo, or conduct a training session.
Business systems and technology platforms are constantly evolving, which makes change management increasingly important. It is also a form of taking credit for the work that’s been done and celebrating a successful sprint. If we do not find joy in our victories, who will?
If the Align pillar was where promises were made, the Deliver pillar is where promises are kept. The expectations that were set previously are now either met or missed depending upon the outcome of the sprint.
It is important to note, however, that these five pillars are not a sequential process. As is the case for agile processes, numerous iterations occur simultaneously. For example, if an emergency came up in the middle of a sprint that prevents a task from being completed, it is the responsibility of the admin to set new expectations.
In other words, there should be no surprises at the end of any given sprint. As a delivery model, RAPID emphasizes alignment, accountability, visibility, and flexibility for admins and stakeholders. Those are the most basic components for establishing and fostering the trust that is at the core of successful relationships.
The value of visibility
The RAPID service model gives stakeholders visibility into what their admin is doing and why to achieve the desired outcomes. That proof of value is more effective than relying on traditional models that track hours as the primary means of driving accountability. If you are tired of managing against a clock instead of against outcomes, you may want to try applying some elements of RAPID in your organization.
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About The Author: Ernest Wong
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