Ever thought of your project as a rugby game?

Sep 02, 2014

The World Cup 2014 for soccer is already a thing from the past. I look forward to another World Cup being held in 2015: rugby!

The rugby term ‘scrum’ is already well-known in the world of IT. The use of the term is embedded in several aspects of project management. It basically means sticking your heads together to brainstorm or to provide updates on specific topics. But did you know there are more aspects of rugby that can be compared to our business?

From the Six Nations Championship to the World Cup

If you associate rugby with a project, you can already find a link at the very start. Your presales process is the Six Nations Championship. If your solution is shortlisted, you won the Triple Crown. If the customer chooses your offer as the one they will implement, you won the Six Nations! You probably have a good team to win the Six Nations, but the aim is the World Cup: the successful completion of the project.

Team sport

In order to win, you need a good team. Rugby is probably the only team sport where you can find all kinds of people. You have tall and normal built players, as well as smaller and heavier ones. The same can be said for a project team: you need various types of resources: functional and technical profiles, juniors and more experienced staff. The diversity of input is welcome, needed and definitely a strength within any team. It also helps to develop your team members both professionally and personally.

You can consider the referee to be the project manager. He provides a general oversight to the match, ensures the project does not lose track and everybody is in the right position. The rugby ball is your subject: ERP, procurement, invoice management, FICO, content management, an upgrade, etc. You need to focus to get that ball over the line. The aim of the game is to get as many points as possible. This can be done by a try: put that ball just over that line and score a positive outcome on UAT testing. However, it is more satisfying to obtain a conversion, when you are able to add extra points to your try by having your solution perform better as the customer expected.

Keep on scrumming

Everybody knows about the scrum, where team members stick their heads together. But have you ever considered that a scrum starts at the blueprint phase, your opponent being the customer? During blueprint workshops, both your organization and your customer get together to discuss and fine-tune the solution as well as the expected outcome of the project. Scrums should also be held during the course of the project, to ensure that the project is still on track to obtain its goals.

Sometimes it happens that you are confronted by an issue or a question from the customer, and you struggle with the subject. In that case, you get a maul or a ruck: your team members are there to help you with their expertise and continue the game.

A hooligans’ game played by gentlemen

There are many more terms and rugby situations you can apply to project management. Rugby is known to be a rough game. Sometimes it is called ‘a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen’, but so can be our business.

Have you chosen your team yet to support during the Rugby World Cup 2015? Because I have!