Shape Up: A Framework for Professional Service Product and Service Development

Shape Up, a project management methodology known for its association with software development, is not confined to a single industry. Its core principles can be applied by forward-thinking Professional Services teams to navigate complex challenges and develop new repeatable products and services.  I've been working to better align my teams processes to Shape Up over recent years and wanted to share a couple insights.

1. Shaping the Work

At the heart of Shape Up lies the concept of "shaping" work. In the Professional Services realm, this translates to a meticulous definition of project scopes. Rather than rushing into tasks, take the time to understand client/customer needs deeply. Define the boundaries and objectives of each project with precision.  This is the most import step.

2. Strategic Prioritization

Professional Services teams often grapple with limited resources and high client demands. Shape Up introduces the concept of "appetite" - setting clear limits on what can be accomplished. This strategic approach aligns resources with organizational goals, ensuring teams don't overextend themselves and can consistently deliver value.

3. Betting on Success

Shape Up's "betting cycles" provide an innovative approach to project selection. Teams choose a handful of projects to tackle during a specific timeframe, but the real innovation lies in the selection process. It encourages teams to evaluate potential new offerings slowly, considering their alignment with strategic objectives and the potential for remarkable outcomes.  In my role, this involves continuously shaping proposals from across the business so when capacity exists we're ready with the correct bet.

4. Embracing Flexibility

In the ever-evolving Professional Services landscape, client needs can shift rapidly. Shape Up promotes adaptability by discouraging rigid scope definitions upfront. Instead, it encourages embracing the idea that scope can evolve during the project, allowing teams to remain responsive to emerging requirements.

5. Effective Collaboration

A crucial aspect of Shape Up is the seamless handoff from project shaping to execution. This is an area I've struggled and been more incline towards a fluid (or as some people probably experience it, chaotic) flow from the shaping to execution. Clear and open communication between those defining the work and those executing it is vital.

6. Continuous Improvement

Shape Up's principles extend beyond project initiation. It emphasizes the importance of ongoing monitoring and adjustment. Keep a close eye on project progress and key performance indicators, making necessary changes promptly to stay on course.

In a world where agility and excellence are paramount, Shape Up offers a fresh perspective, enabling Professional Services teams to deliver outstanding value to clients while enhancing their own efficiency and effectiveness.

Thanks to ChatGPT for the help on this post.