Welcome to the fourth article by PMLOGY®, this time focusing on Agile project management.
Traditional project management is often confronted with changes in content (scope) that stem from evolving user needs. When it comes to the fast-paced world of computer technology, software and systems often take several months to design, develop, test and implement. It is often during delivery, at the very end of the project, that we discover we had initially poorly targeted user needs or that certain needs have evolved or even radically changed along the way.
That’s where Agile project management comes in!
Let’s start by clarifying what Agile project management consists of
Agile project management is an incremental, iterative and adaptive management approach. Contrary to traditional approaches that are generally focused on content (deliverables), agile approaches focus on deadlines (timeboxing). A project is therefore broken down into iterations of fixed duration (1 to 4 weeks) and is given a fixed deadline.
Instead of trying to design 100% of the solution, develop 100% of the solution and implement 100% of the solution (waterfall model), Agile project management progressively delivers the project in increments, each of which can be implemented, depending on what the Product Owner requires. This approach is also highly adaptive and allows content to be added as the product owner wishes. However, since the project has a fixed deadline, there are often certain requirements that will not be met.
When it comes to Agile methods, Scrum is the most widely used approach.
In this approach, a multidisciplinary and self-managing team progressively develops a product through several deliveries. Each delivery is subdivided into a series of iterations (sprints) and each of these iterations produces an increment of a product (a series of important functionalities or requirements that generate significant value in the eyes of the Product Owner).
Here is an overview of these steps:
1. Project initiation or Sprint 0 (Sprint Zero)
Once the project is approved, Sprint 0 allows the Scrum Master (a role similar to Project Manager) and the Product Owner to build the Scrum Team (multidisciplinary team), build the Product Vision (often a model or visual of the product) and create the Product Backlog (a list of estimated and prioritized functionalities), which is broken down into sprints according to the team’s capacity (velocity). Based on this sprint breakdown, a Delivery Plan can be developed.
2. Sprint 1 planning
The second step is producing the Sprint 1 Backlog. This is a list that includes all of the tasks required to deliver the functionalities included in Sprint 1, those required to create the first increment of the product. The Scrum Team agrees to deliver this first increment based on its capacity.
3. Sprint 1
During Sprint 1, the Scrum Team, Scrum Master and Product Owner meet every morning (daily Scrum meetings) in order to follow up on the tasks from the day before, plan out the tasks for the day ahead and identify any problems they encounter. The Scrum Master can then produce a Burndown Chart (equivalent to the progress report) outlining what is left to be done.
4. Sprint 1 review
This step is very important! It involves conducting a demonstration (demo), in other words “demonstrating” that the product increment (the functionalities delivered) do indeed WORK. This review provides an opportunity for inspecting the product, gathering feedback from users and, if needed, allowing the Scrum Team to quickly adapt to changing and emerging user needs.
5. Sprint 1 retrospective
This final step allows the Scrum Team, Scrum Master and Product Owner to see if the Scrum process can be improved (post-mortem) as early as the next sprint.
Steps 2 to 5 are repeated until there are enough functionalities for the product to be implemented among users (delivery).
And that’s it! NOW, PRACTICE AND ENJOY!
To help guide the practice of Agile project management, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has published the 1st edition of Software Extension to the PMBOK, 5th Edition. Launched in 2014, this industry standard presents the best practices in Agile project management. The PMI has also introduced Agile project management certification: ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner).
To find out more about the best practices in Agile project management, register for the course entitled Agile Project Management (GE502). This course is based primarily on the PMI standard.
I also invite you to read—or re-read—the previous PMLOGY® articles.
*PMLOGY: [pee-em-lo-gee] noun. — the science of project management
PMLOGY and GPLOGIE are registered trademarks of Carl M. Gilbert.
© Carl M. Gilbert, All rights reserved.
Carl M. Gilbert is the initiator of the Project Management courses at Technologia, he was the obvious choice as a representative for four of the programs in this particular area of specialty. He has been involved with the Montreal chapter of the PMI since 1996 and has a thorough understanding of the various certifications and requirements for project managers.