Blockchain Project Management: The Harmony Between Maturity & Details of the Deliverables
1) Project Management
Briefly speaking, the managers take ‘‘task management’ most seriously when handling a project management task.
To make the approach to task management easier, some tactics to simplify the problems are executed: 1) set up the deadline, 2) inverse-estimate and find the ‘Critical Path,’ 3) organize the to-dos to meet the deadline, 4) follow up and manage the progress.
This work system can be divided into two different methods: The first one is to run a Risk Assessment: identifying the issues to meet the deadline, finding risk elements regularly, detecting the risks and finding solutions while segmenting and completing the issues simultaneously. The other one is about how the deliverables’ maturity or marketability should be assessed: the measures can be exampled from the assessment scales to the right time for the assessment.
By the way, is the project management “art” or “science?”
Some activities like estimation, identifying the issues, or risk management can be related to science since these can be equally processed by different individuals.
Defining risks and coming up with problem-solving strategies might fall better into an art category since it can vary by the values or philosophy that different individuals hold. However, drawing a fine line between the two is somewhat pointless because those tasks cross the boundaries back and forth, depending on the project traits.
On the other hand, I do agree (to some extent) to the idea and the term ‘unique’ that is often used when defining projects. Each project has its own trait, and those traits are the variables that affect the fields and depths of the management differently.
As the resources are limited and they need to be handled effectively/wisely, defining the focus and the parts to weigh more importance by different business models that work as the ground base of the project is a crucial step that must be done before taking an approach to the project. Because I believe the capability to understand different business models and figuring out the project trait is another important way to assess the project as well.
Based on the grand proposition ‘Schedule Management,’ the maturity of the deliverables and the details of the process are both the measures and weapons needed for properly carrying out the project management work.
2) The Traits of Blockchain Projects
While Bitcoin has shed a light on the possibility of a ‘blockchain world,’ Vitalik has opened our eyes to the value of the ‘money-making’ blockchain with Ethereum ICO and successful funding.
Most of the people who were fascinated by the idea of Blockchain saw the light of hope from the scalability that Ethereum has shown. However, rather than welcoming the idea of the prospective scalability, they instead rooted more for the byproduct of the scalability — the cryptocurrency. Only back in two years ago, this phenomenon was a mega-fad syndrome.
In the blockchain world, unfortunately, the virtuous economic cycle — the good idea and belief shared by everyone back then — did not mature quickly enough to meet the high hopes of the people in the newly-rising crypto universe, and it only worsened the instability.
As the instability worsened, the regulators started to build more regulations one by one. This resulted in the early lucrative business models to lose their way to the blockchain world, hindered by the resistance built by the regulators. The one-time popular belief, “Blockchain project makes money” is now turning into fear and crisis with time. In this midst of all the odds, we can’t stop ourselves from questioning “is the cryptocurrency just everything about the blockchain world?”
But it doesn’t take very long to answer no to that question if you think deeply enough. Because cryptocurrency was only one of some tools that could show and prove how blockchain technology could scale. And out of these many ‘scalability options,’ cryptocurrency was just the easiest one to be developed and actualized business-wisely.
Blockchain is an ideology. As there have always been some evolutions in every ideology, the blockchain world will also repeat and go through ideological evolutions in the business models to accept the market demands, and will eventually become more stable — because every technology has evolved by meeting the popular demands, or otherwise left behind.
Cryptocurrency, the 1st-generation business model, depended so much on the expectations of the users it is now struggling to enter into the real economy as it is blocked by the regulatory barriers built strong in many countries. Still, it is moving forward by facing its immaturity in the business model and regulatory obstacles and cautiously considering the next business model.
The blockchain business models and the approaches to the business are evolving. However, the key competencies necessary for blockchain businesses possess mutually-dependent moving target characteristics. Meaning that, the attentive curiosity toward the essence of the blockchain and the ability to pull out the right business model is required.
The cryptocurrency business model has already emerged in the world and saw its demand, expectations, and outcomes from the market. So I believe now is the right time to ready itself for the next step to solve another aspect of the puzzle.
The scalability of blockchain, defined as the ability to put various services on top of the robustness of the blockchain network, is the key value that many blockchain projects appreciate. However, if we just look at the blockchain projects only, the main goals would be 1) how sturdy is the consensus algorithm that maintains the block’s integrity, 2) the amount of transactions that can be processed at the same time, and 3) whether the lead time of the process can manage enough number of the users.
If the main values of the blockchain project such as scalability mentioned above and the basic interests of the project are fulfilled, then the next steps is likely to be considering how the product called ‘Scan’ can show information according to the characteristics of the encrypted block, or how widely the project can be integrated with other services (dApps), or what kind of services could sustain and develop over time within the systematic boundaries.
Like everybody knows, technology can achieve exponential growth and market coverage only when the right business model meets the right expansion strategy.
3) Blockchain Project Management
The two major key values necessary for the project management are 1) the maturity of the deliverables, and 2) the detail of the process. With the limited number and amount of given human and material resources, the project manager should be able to reach a certain level of deliverable maturity of the planned product’s value. At the same time, the manager should be able to the project with the discretional views and standards so that the manager can take care of the potential project risk elements within the acceptable and controllable range. In order for the project managers to achieve the best possible outcome with the optimized process, they forecast each possible scenario by each project step and come up with the proper management tactics.
Project management can also be compared to the way the construction industry does its work. To construct an entire city, the city elements and details need to be planned and designed, and then the bigger-scale site construction that follows the plan is carried out. At the early stage of the building construction, the entire work doesn’t seem to progress quickly enough because it takes a lot of care and works for the foundational ground site setting. However, once the foundation set is done, then building up the floors takes nearly no time to finish. These days, the construction industry often uses this strategy to make one team to estimate and calculate a load of each floor, while the other team prepares the floors to be topped on the ground floor.
The progress that blockchain projects adopt is no different from that of the construction industry. In other words, while the base technology project that is compared to the work of laying the ground is in progress, the projects that are compared to the concept of the blockchain scaling are defined and stacked on top of the completed foundation.
Let’s go back to building project analogy once again. Just as the subsequent layer building was done quickly once the seemingly-delayed foundation floor settling job was done, in case of the blockchain project, once the maturity level of the deliverables of the base technology project lays within the management range, the subsequent service expansion steps will be followed and processed in no time.
Projects that scale have a relatively higher degree of freedom of imagination than the base technology projects. Yet, it is important to serve the role of an assistant, such as fully reflecting the market needs and making extra profit.
In order for the existing general services to accelerate its entry to a blockchain’s real economy, they will need to have the disruptive nature to maximize user profits and introduce a completely different business model that is new to the world.
Compared to other IT industries, the blockchain industry is subject to more frequent interdependent changes that occur due to some potential market changes like business orientation or requirements adjustments. It is literally chaos itself, but just as chaos has its own rules, in the blockchain project world, there definitely is a certain rule and order suited to the different characteristics, and there are elements that can manage the rules and order on a steady, consistent level.
Acceptance to the various blockchain finalities is essential for maintaining the robustness of a blockchain network system. For this, special attention to the robustness and stability management is required. Because robustness and stability make the foundations to most of the scalable services, and they also act as the bases that support the diversity and scalability of the services to be accepted. In terms of the blockchain network, building a stable upgrade strategy is as important as the maturity of the developed features.
So what approach should we apply to properly manage the relationships between blockchain projects in the ‘mutual moving targets situation?’
First, create a project portfolio with a macro perspective and make up a list that categorizes the project characteristics.
Based on these characteristics, we would need the wisdom to link basic values such as product maturity and process details in terms of the ‘fundamental project management.’ At that time, it is better to look at the issues by distinguished views on 1) the tasks that work as a basis to the blockchain layer, and 2) the service projects (dApps) categorized upon that foundation layer.
Then, we need to come up with a technology roadmap related to the base-technology related projects and classify the requirements by internal/external requests.
This can work as the basic data for selecting the plans and scope of services that will be incorporated on the technical infrastructure and will provide the necessary standards for discovering and visualizing the time for implementation or requirements necessary for the implementation of specific services.
It is a must to share the exact development scope of base technology for each project development phase based on the technology roadmap, and fairly adjust the service entry timing for different projects.
Third, we need to select the most foundational development scope throughout the communication and proceed with the commonly shared scope management task. It’s taking an approach to enhance the completion level through the agreed Scope Management Baseline, and to accept the requirements for the services with scalability over the scope of basic technology development within a certain period of time. Projects that have an impact on other issues need to be set as the ‘standard projects,’ and the impact on those standards must be analyzed so that the schedule and risks of the remaining projects can be managed. It is important to seamlessly share and discuss the updates including changes, development scope, and direction as needed.
The fourth step is making an alignment of the related projects differentiated by each set baselines.
Setting up a baseline and making an association among projects is an effective way to complete the task, however, these baselines can be changed at any time since these standards (baselines) are mutually-dependent changes after all. So we have to accept the nature of those mutually-dependent elements and the imperfect completion of the task that those nature bear. Thus, a special treatment such as conducting regularly-scheduled monitoring and sharing changes/updates as needed, and sharing enough information so that the higher-level policymakers can make correct decisions.
Also, linear-management activities should be done regularly to correct the alignment of the projects. The examples of activities include updating the standards with situationally-appropriate Baseline Management, and the Scope Management activities that follow the Baseline Management.
The Maturity of the mid-progress results, Details of the process — also represented as Management Methods and the basic values of projects — must be applied to management methods such as Scope Management, and Baseline Management. So that these approaches can reflect the evolution of the blockchain ecosystem in general (i.e. non-blockchain) projects and thus make the projects’ entry into the real economy faster and more realistic.
The right time for the blockchain technology to enter into the real economy, and the technology development speed would be the major interest that everyone who works with blockchain would pay attention to.
Having an own cryptocurrency used and operated within the product ecosystem is definitely the competitive edge that can work as a catalyst to innovate the technology, and I cannot deny that this competitive edge perfects the business model. If we look only at the cryptocurrency on the aspect of blockchain technology itself, it is the blockchain product that can be most easily adopted in our lives. Yet, the idea to sustain a stable profit-generating model only with the cryptocurrency alone (without pursuing the expansion in business) bears its realistic limitation as well.
And let’s face this. Blockchain implementation and mass adoption is everyone’s dream. It is literally a dream that is so hard to achieve, especially when it comes to making and proving the fair reason to apply the blockchain in our real, everyday lives. What’s even worse is that some of the policymakers are so new and unfamiliar with this new concept of blockchain and they are slowing the entry of blockchain into the real world with their clumsy responses and resistances. Even when the circumstances don’t seem to be on our side, we, therefore, need to try harder and go to the basics, ponder on the essence, and seek the way out with a twist in our ordinary ideas.
Right now, we might have landed into a shallow pool now since we were distracted by a seemingly-easy, a shortcut to our strategy? We might have put our eyes away from our macroscopic strategies and forgot what we first had in our minds when crafting our blockchain business ideas.
The maturity level of the ‘technology-based project results’ should have a structure that can flexibly accept the projects’ requirements that reflects different business models, and must also be able to wisely handle the projects that possess fluidly-changing updates or characteristics of the requests each time.
The more service countries that a company has, the more benefits that they can enjoy as they can get more and diverse feedbacks or requests from different users. Thus, the services that have a base technology that can accept diversity will be more welcomed in a global market in return.
Depending on the different business models, the scope of a base-technology extension can be furthered into a platform level, and this can flourish the business model to accelerate the maturity of the business environment.
The journey to a better blockchain ecosystem is still ongoing: the efforts to confirm the validity of the project management strategies acquired through a long time are being examined, learning lessons, and evolving on their own.
The results produced by the challenges and hard works will get paid off by the market logic soon. I look forward to seeing another genesis of the game to come, the time that will make all our hopes and expectations worth the wait.