Tailoring Accelerate

Follow the phases, choose your tools

All the Accelerate phases and stages are considered in every project.

However, the effort and formality for each stage needs to reflect the project’s size, complexity and uncertainty.

Effective use of Accelerate relies on the sponsor and project manager using their judgement to decide which tools will best benefit the project, and to what depth to complete the stages.

Goal of tailoring Accelerate

The goal of tailoring Accelerate is to apply a level of project management and control that:

  • does not overburden the project, and
  • provides an appropriate level of oversight given the risk, complexity and significance of the project.

Using navigators

The GCIO's team can identify Accelerate coaches and navigators who can help you choose the best path forward.

After you read through this section, contact the GCIO's team at accelerate@dia.govt.nz to locate a navigator or Accelerate coach 

How to tailor Accelerate

The first step for the project manager or sponsor when tailoring the approach is to determine the complexity of the problem, the certainty of the outcome and approach, and the possible impact of the project. They need to consider:

  • achieving things is straightforward when they are well understood – even if they are complex
  • even straightforward things can be a challenge - if you’re unsure what to do next
  • when the impact is high it is wise to take extra care – even when you know what to do.

Possible factors to consider are given in the table below.

Factors to consider when tailoring Accelerate

Complexity factors

Outcome uncertainty factors

Effect factors


  • The degree of variability in the process and business rules

Organisational Change

  • The number of agencies and branches involved
  • The degree to which the project is changing attitudes and behaviours


  • The number of business groups involved in the delivery
  • The range of resources required


  • The number of stakeholders involved
  • The degree of divergence between stakeholder goals


  • The number of technical systems requiring change or integration
  • The level of legacy system involvement in the product


  • Our level of understanding of the high value features
  • Our level of understanding of the customer journeys
  • Our level of understanding of the customer groups


  • Level of understanding of the processes involved
  • Degree of change required for the process


  • The predictability of project and resource costs
  • Level of understanding of the system components


  • Availability of appropriate skills and resources
  • Availability of relevant previous experience
  • Availability of relevant knowledge of the system


Organisational impact

  • The extent of the project impact on the operations of the branch or agency
  • How constrained is the project end date?

Financial size

  • Size of project budget
  • The level of financial commitment post-project

Customer impact

  • The extent of the project impact on the customers

Political impact

  • The political significance of the outcome

The team

Typical roles in an Accelerate team include:

  • a team leader
  • representatives of the customer(s) and stakeholder(s)
  • the team to analyse and develop the product
  • people responsible for the:

○    assurance

○    architecture

○    policy

○    benefits planning and realisation

○    customer service.

How many of each role (and whether some may be combined) depends on the nature and quality of the product being created, and the time available.

An indicative team structure is given in the introductions for Prepare, Discover, Alpha and Beta.

Engaging future critical roles

The following resources need to be identified by the end of Prepare so they can be engaged for subsequent work:

  • the core team (when practicable, this team will include the members of the Prepare team):

○    product owner

○    architecture owner

○    project manager

  • key personnel (the larger or more complex the project, the greater level of experience required - see table below):

○    Accelerate navigator or coach

○    assurance contact

○    EPMO contact.

Requirements for personnel



Complex stakeholder landscape


More experienced project manager and sponsor

Complex technical landscape

More experienced architecture owner and technical lead

Complex operations and product

More experienced product owner

Larger team

More experienced project manager

Inexperienced team

More experienced project manager

More engagement with navigator and subject matter coaches

Contact people for communication in supporting teams also need to be established, for example in EPMO, Assurance, SDLC groups, Security, ICT review boards.

Considering complexity and uncertainty

The size effect

The size of the project amplifies the effect of complexity and uncertainty. The larger the potential impact, the more formal the recommended approach and communication.

As a matrix

Accelerate can be tailored to address varying levels of uncertainty and complexity (see the figure below). Each of the quadrants is discussed below.

Accelerate's approaches to complexity and outcome certainty

Figure: Accelerate’s approaches to complexity and outcome uncertainty

High complexity, high uncertainty

When the assessment shows the project and its business ecosystem will be complex, and the path forward is uncertain, consider:

  • separating the project into smaller, simpler components and taking more steps to build the total solution
  • using more rigorous and formal analysis tools to research the evidence
  • setting up more formal engagement and communication processes with stakeholders
  • engaging stakeholders in planning and benefit planning with frequent updates as more information becomes available.

The following are strongly advised:

  • strong governance and external assurance
  • adherence to methodology
  • experienced leaders and team members.

High complexity, low uncertainty

When the assessment shows the project and its business ecosystem will be complex and the path forward is certain:

  • use:

○    workshop approaches with larger groups from multiple areas

○    more formal documentation

○    wider socialisation of the workshop output

  • make sure the problem statement is clear
  • take care with stakeholder communications and commitment
  • consider using prototypes to research areas of business and technical complexity.

The following are recommended:

  • external assurance
  • more formal project governance
  • an experienced project team.

Low complexity, high uncertainty

When the assessment shows the project and its business ecosystem will be simple, and the path forward is uncertain, consider:

  • multiple smaller workshops with a variety of groups to explore the situation and share insights and materials with the team
  • several prototypes.

Low complexity, low uncertainty

When the assessment shows the project and its business ecosystem will be simple and the path forward is certain, consider using:

  • an early release the first MVP, and with quick iterations based on customer feedback
  • less formal methods of analysis and communication
  • lighter Governance and assurance activities
  • simpler project documentation.


Page last updated: 13/04/2016