Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A few good quotes

 image I have been reading

Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (2nd Edition)  and in this book, Jim not only refers to a few good quotes by other authors but also has made many impactful statements.  The book provides views on Agile Leadership, Team Management and Agile Project Management. 

A few good quotes that I liked from the initial few chapters include


* Traditional managers view the plan as the goal, whereas agile leaders view customer value as the goal


Commanders know the objective;

leaders grasp the direction.

Commanders dictate;

leaders influence.

Controllers demand;

Collaborators facilitate.

Controllers micro-manage;

Collaborators encourage

* Leadership is what crosses the frontier between what we did yesterday and what we’ll do tomorrow. We’ll argue…that the real mark of a leader is confidence with uncertainty—the ability to admit to it and deal with it.”   - Phillip Hodgson and Randall White

* Agile project leaders help their team balance at the edge of chaos—some structure, but not too much; adequate documentation, but not too much; some up-front architecture work, but not too much. Finding these balance points is the “art” of agile leadership

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Does it make sense to use MS Project in Agile Projects ?








image It is a tradition to use MS Project as a Project Management tool in Waterfall projects. However, trying to use MS Project in an Agile project makes the lives of the developers more difficult than easy. 

There are several reasons for that and a few based on my personal experiences are..

1. Adding new tasks in between as they get discovered during the sprint causes havoc while using the tool

2. Tracking  story and task completion in the context of sprint is difficult
3. Moving around the incomplete stories and tasks to different Iteration makes the project plan chaotic
4. Picturing  Product and Sprint Backlogs while using MSProject is not so easy

In addition to above reasons, Michael Dubakov has written an article explaining why MS Project sucks in iterative development projects.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rise and Fall of Waterfall Model





Craig Larman’s most popular book  Agile and Iterative Development a Manager’s guide  covers the topic about how Winston Royce’s white paper was misinterpreted which lead to the birth of Waterfall Model.



Incidentally an Agile practitioner has created a video explaining the birth and death of waterfall model in a humorous way.  The video is

available on YouTube

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Balancing Organizational and Project Goals In many outsourced(near shore or offshore) services organizations, employees are expected to take part in activities that are outside the purview of their projects. These activities are intended to support organizational growth in someway or the other. A few of such activities are

Conducting interviews for hiring new employees,
Taking team out for lunch/dinner,
Arranging an offsite meeting,
Conducting trainings, events
Publishing whitepapers, attending conferences, etc

The above mentioned activities need effort, and this effort needs to be accounted some where. Naturally, one might get few questions like:
Should one track these tasks in Sprint Backlog ?
Should one keep the customer updated about these tasks ?
Should this be estimated as part of Planning meeting ?

Being Agile practitioners, it is expected that the team should practice as much transparency as possible in estimation and tracking. Keeping this in mind, one should estimate the effort being spent on such activities during each iteration and capture it as part of a task in sprint backlog. This also ensures that the customer is aware of these non-billable activities at the same time, IEH and velocity counts are captured accurately.

It is not a good idea to mask these activities and also not informing the customers. This would not only affect the credibility of the team but also forces the team to stretch themselves to compensate for the lost time.

Image: djcodrin /