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Best Practices When Moving to Agile Project Management

Presented By: Robert McGeachy, PMP Kintyre Consulting Incorporated February 26, 2010

York Technology Association February 26, 2010 - Markham, Ontario

Learning Objectives
Moving your team to Agile is akin to moving to a new country with a new language and culture. No amount of training can prepare you for every challenge.

Understand the major issues teams face when adopting Agile processes
Walk through the process to train and inspire a team new to Agile Learn how to transition roles from a Project Manager to an Agile Coach

Agile Principles The 5 Gotchas Setting up your Team Organizational Success Factors


Who is the presentation for?

The people or organizations that are looking to improve on the efficiency of their development processes and the quality and alignment to business requirements Generally, these methodologies are applied to the software or IT project. But Agile approaches can be adopted for other types of projects. Some basic or general understanding of Agile Methodologies is assumed We wont solve all the problems, but will point out the areas project managers and teams should focus on when making a change to Agile

Agile Principles The 5 Gotchas Setting up your Team Organizational Success Factors


Waterfall vs. Agile

Waterfall Discovery Design Implementation
Go Live


Agile Define
It 1

Release 1
It 2 It 3 It 4

Release 2
It 5 It 6 It 7

Release 3
It 8 It 9 Go Live It 10

Release 4
It 11 It 12

Iteration N Mon Mon: Iteration kick-off with client

Local team: acts as interface to client, does some dev work team: develops and tests


Fri: End-of-iteration checkpoint with client

A project is broken into releases (a release should occur no less frequently than every 4 months) Releases are broken into short (1-4 week) iterations

Agile Delivery Model

(3) Daily team Meeting
The team meets daily to report status and address roadblocks

24 hours

(2) Build iteration plan

The team works with the client to gain a deeper understanding of the iteration requirements and be able to break the work down allocated to their track. Each track uses this to create an iteration plan

(4) Deliver potentially deployable functionality

(1) Validate/Reprioritize scope

At the start of each iteration, the team works with the client to validate planned iteration scope and if needed reprioritise or swap scope

Short Iterations (1-4 weeks)

The team performs Analysis & Design, Requirements detailing, Development and testing of the selected scope items to deliver something of value to the client at the end of each iteration

Iteration Scope

Iteration Plan

Potentially Depoyable Functionality

Checkpoint with client

Agile principles
Highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software Welcome changing requirements, even late in development and focus on the customer's competitive advantage Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation

Agile principles (continued)

Working software is the primary measure of progress Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility Simplicity the art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from selforganising teams At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly

The Four Main Benefits of Agile (if done right!)

Increases Flexibility
It minimizes up front investment and maximizes return on investment (ROI) by creating an efficient IT development process It aligns users and stakeholders with the right people to deliver the solution that the business actually needs Iterations get to the right solution faster

Delivers the Right Solution

Accelerates Delivery

Reduces Risk and Increases Quality

Greater stakeholder visibility and control

Agile Principles The 5 Gotchas Setting up your Team Organizational Success Factors


The 5 Gotchas for the Agile Team

Lack of discipline

The iterative death spiral

Changes in working styles The new role of testing

Changes in responsibilities and expectations

Lack of discipline
Although it may seem counter intuitive, Agile is an extremely disciplined approach to working

Agile does not equal sloppiness. Most people will have a difficult time adjusting to this
Tracking stories to closure, accounting for the velocity of an iteration, tracking ones estimate to complete -- these are all things where every team will slip up the first few iterations Without discipline Agile will not work. Setting good examples and continually following up are essential

The iterative death spiral

People misinterpret the term iterative to mean that there is unlimited ability to revisit scope

In fact, Agile success hinges on incremental completion of scope throughout the project
Teams that do not effectively define their exit criteria for each work unit (known as story), will never get real closure on work in progress This leads to endless cycles of revisions that are really scope changes but which are not labeled so because of the misperception, causing delays, overruns, and a demoralized team

Changes in working style

Developers used to working in a solo mode will have a bit of a hump to get over when working in small teams to complete stories. This can manifest itself in stalled work, as communication reverts to inefficient mechanisms such as email (instead of sitting together, or picking up the phone) In a typical project the pressures of learning the business, addressing technology, business, and team personality issues, will very quickly overwhelm even the most prepared person Add to this a major change in delivery methodology and it will lead one to revert to known approaches A major mitigation here is training and more importantly, effective support from someone with actual experience in the field

The new role of testing

Automated testing is fundamental to quality, short delivery cycles, and hence the agile model

Yet, there are many barriers: taking on a legacy application with no existing test suites; lack of tools for many aspects of an application; lack of team knowledge on how to do this
People will want to revert to more comfortable manual testing approaches TDD (Test-Driven Development) will be a struggle to adopt. It is counter-intuitive unless tried

The change in responsibilities and expectations

Given focus on transparency and on pushing responsibility to the team, the Project Lead will be less of a task manager, and more of a problem solver, and will have to let go of a lot of previously-held control Developers will work hand in hand with testers and cannot declare a piece of code done until the tester gives the green light Testers who are used to having a more clearly specified set of tasks will struggle, as the Agile tester role involves more thought, planning, and business knowledge

For Business Analysts, working just in time on requirements will feel very unnatural. Working hand in hand with developers to define requirements and then to help test them as a developer works will feel very foreign
This problem will be exacerbated by the multiple reporting structures that exist between team members

Agile Principles The 5 Gotchas Setting up your Team Organizational Success Factors


Project Manager
Scrum Master, manages issues and removes roadblocks
Developers Testers A virtual team consisting of track leads, project leadership and clients ensures broad communication of important project announcements

Responsible for overall system architecture and development quality and processes

Participates in design, creates unit tests, builds and delivers code
Product Ow ner

Track Lead

Tester Dedicated testers assigned to each track (ratio typically ranges from 2:1 to 4:1) Test Lead Responsible for organizing and planning testing efforts Mentors testers Client Proxy Helps remote teams clarify requirements and run issues to ground Product Owner Client owner who participates in Kickoffs and Iteration closures, as well as provides feedback

Test Lead

PM Client SMEs

Architect Client Proxies

Track Lead

Track Lead





Cross-functional tracks may vary anyw here from 3-10 persons

Developers create the system. Testers ow n its validation; the developer-totester ratio w ithin each track is typically betw een 2:1 to 4:1

Physical Space and Co-Location

The most effective layout for the physical team location is co-located desks

There should be shared access to plans, status, next steps, and other project planning and management tools.
In teams that must be geographically separated, then tools for conducting virtual meetings such as conference call phones, instant messaging, shared electronic documents and tools are leveraged to minimize the distance and separation

The War Room

Team Structure - the basic "who's on the team", including contact information High level plan, Mid Level Plan - The overall project milestones, and the key iterations and release dates, with the anticipated objectives or deliverables for each Roles and Responsibilities - A RACI style chart with the internal and external roles and the person on the team who is responsible Story Board - The stories for this iteration, what is complete, in-progress, and not started Client Deliverables - This may seem straight forward, but a reminder as too what we as a team are trying to deliver Client Phase Exit Criteria - What are we marching toward to complete the current phase and achieve signoff Story Stack - The scope of the project

Meeting Agenda - The standard daily team stand-up meeting has a strict, short agenda so we can complete it within 30 minutes

Issues and Next Steps - The whiteboard list of next steps, dates, owners, to be checked during each team meeting
Risks - The whiteboard list of risks, impact, and mitigation that needs to be taken (with owner) Recognition Awards - Some place to call out great work by the team or individuals. Ground Rules - The team derived rules for respecting each other

Agile Principles The 5 Gotchas Setting up your Team Organizational Success Factors


Is Your Organization Ready For Agile?

Trust pervades the culture of the organization, the interactions between its people, and its clients Individuals demonstrate a high level of enthusiasm for or openness toward change

Management empowers individuals to take risks without fear of repercussions

Disciplined execution is representative of the organizations delivery practices or broadly viewed as a goal worth of striving for

Teams and management alike evidence the commitment and patience necessary to seeing through changes despite challenges and disappointments along the way
A willingness exists to make reasonable investments in tools, training, coaching and mentoring to facilitate successful adoption and sustained change.

Learning Objectives
We reviewed the major gotchas that can derail a project with team members new to Agile.

Learned the major issues teams face when adopting Agile processes Walk through the process to train and inspire a team new to Agile Learned how to transition roles from a Project Manager to an Agile Coach

Robert McGeachy