In project management, it's easy to get swamped in the day-to-day tasks and overlook the bigger picture. While tasks are important, they should always be viewed in the context of the project's overall goals and objectives. That's where use cases come in. A use case is a specific scenario that describes how a user interacts with a system or application. By focusing on use cases instead of individual tasks, project managers can ensure that their projects are aligned with the needs of the end user and are more likely to achieve their intended outcomes.
This blog will explore the importance of handling use cases versus tasks in a project and why this approach can lead to more successful project outcomes.
The Enterprise SaaS business model relies on two important factors:
You can spend thousands of dollars on marketing. Still, if your product fails to provide solutions to your customers or has become stagnant due to a lack of innovation and improvement, that is a recipe for customer churn and thus hurts your business.
There's no denying the fact that both product and customer success are dependent on each other.
However, what we fail to realize is that product development is not just a one-step process. A substantial amount of planning, re-planning, execution, testing, and feedback go into developing a product that not just caters to a universal problem but also is specific to the needs of each customer you have.
For example, your product caters to providing HRM solutions to your customer. Your product will help your customer curate their employee details, their backgrounds, compensation details, date of joining, log-in/log-out time captures, etc.
Here we can refer to the task as making sure all the features are in place for your customer to use. And the use case is "how" your customers want to use your product. Some customers would want it for data curation, some for payroll activities, etc.
Let's define a task and a use case first.
In layman's terms, a task is simply a chunk of activity that needs to be completed. This word is not only used in the software industry but also in other industries and organizations, such as banks, where everyone is assigned tasks like a teller, authorization of requests, account opening, and so on, or in organizations where there are HRs, Marketing teams, Operations teams, etc., each working on different tasks.
The Collins Dictionary defines tasks as "an activity or piece of work which you have to do, usually as part of a larger project."
It is used in the enterprise software business to assign work items between team members. It can be a bundle of sub-tasks (for example, delivering an item will require the completion of sub-tasks) or a single work item by itself, like:
It all depends on how much breakup is required to keep track of and complete a parent task.
A use case is an approach for finding, clarifying, and organizing system needs in systems analysis. A use case is a collection of conceivable series of interactions between systems and users in a specific setting, all of which are tied to a specific purpose. The technique generates a document that details all of a user's steps in completing an activity.
Business analysts write use cases, which can be used at several stages of software development, including defining system requirements, validating design, testing software, and producing a framework for online help and user guides. A use case document can help the development team identify and understand any issues during a transaction so that they can be resolved.
Simply put, a use case is a description of all the ways a system can be "used" by an end-user. These "uses" are similar to system requests, and use cases describe how the system responds to such requests. In other words, use cases define how a system interacts with its users.
Enterprise SaaS businesses are constantly struggling to achieve customer success as well as to stay in business with a positive ARR. And this won't be possible till you make the entire business approach customer and use-case-centric.
With all these pressures, how will the project manager ever know what needs more attention - is it the task or the use-case fulfillment?
According to PMI (Project Management Institute), most project managers struggle with the complexities of gathering ambiguous tasks and use cases that have no proper definition to them.
The decision to prioritize what is more important decides the future course of action in the product roadmap.
This, in turn, creates a fire-fighting situation wherein all the internal stakeholders, like your onboarding team, project management team, and customer success teams, end up investing the majority of their time in collecting, collating, and analyzing data on tasks dependencies and use-case dependencies to push for development.
We've established that use case dependencies are more important than task dependencies, so you need to make sure the choice you make is the best one.
Implementation platforms should ideally put use cases at the front and center of the project. Sales to implementation hand-offs should be clearly captured by these platforms with the SOW requirements translated into use case-specific actions.
Having pre-defined use case-specific templates or playbooks can help with faster onboarding and project plan creation. This saves considerable time and bandwidth for implementation/project managers and helps them focus on customer-centric objectives.
Further, to accelerate time to value delivery, projects, use cases, and tasks should be logically connected within the implementation platforms, helping cross-functional teams to track and visualize the progress of use cases automatically using machine-controlled RAG statuses.
Finally, providing a holistic view of customers in a single place gives implementation teams a full context of where they stand in terms of delivering the use cases that were promised. This approach should help improve the overall customer experience and all the downstream customer success benefits post-go-live.
In conclusion, handling use cases versus tasks in a project can make a significant difference in the success of the project. By focusing on the needs and goals of the end user rather than just completing a list of tasks, project managers can ensure that their projects are aligned with the needs of the target audience.
Prioritizing use cases with the help of the right implementation platforms can lead to more efficient project planning and a better user experience. Ultimately, more successful project outcomes. Whether you're managing a small project or a large one, taking a use case-driven approach can help you focus on what matters most, which is delivering a product or service that meets the needs of your users.