The Standish Group suggests projects should have small but significant deliverables. A stepping-stone activity allows for tangible inspection either visually or hands-on. The stepping-stone method is the key factor in creating and maintaining velocity. Stepping-stones are the heart of the agile process that lead to more deliverables or indicate the project is not on the right track. They are powerful because they allow for rapid feedback, creation of a feature pipeline, and accelerated user training and acceptance. Executive sponsors should insist on stepping-stones to decrease the risk and improve return on investment.
Joseph added: Apart from being able to better manage delivery through the continuous feature pipeline, I think the stepping stone approach also allows for better valuation of projects. Monolithic valuation processes used for large project business cases considering the final grand outcome and cash flows thereafter, shows misleading / incorrect results. A real options valuation strategy based on stepping stones would probably demonstrate a more accurate picture of project value.
Look at CHAOS numbers – decision latency is the root cause of project failures: http://www.standishgroup.com/store/