The best of agile project management


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Agile project management and scrum development methodologies: The principles and values of agile and scrum provide insight on successful project management and software development, project collaboration and communication.

This is a collection of excerpts from the blog archives 2008 - 2013 presenting top tips and advice from our professional project managers in a "best of" series now available free to download and share.

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The best of agile project management

  1. 1. The Best of Agile Project ManagementA selection of professional insights from the Blog archive © 2013 All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. Since 2008 our project management professionals have been sharing knowledge,experience and learning with online readers via the Project Manager Blog.Their collective wisdom provides a wealth of how to, top tips and best practiceadvice, for project managers, teams and businesses.To make their writings more accessible we’ve created a series of “Best of” projectmanagement topics available free to download and share.Here is a collection of excerpts and insights from blog posts that discuss agileproject management and scrum development methodologies.The principles and values of agile and scrum provide insights on successful projectmanagement and software development, collaboration and more.Enjoy!Jason Westland CEOProjectManager.comThe 4 Values of Agile & Scrum ........................................................................................................ 3The Benefits of the Scrum Methodology ........................................................................................ 5The Pro’s and Con’s of Scrum ......................................................................................................... 7An Iterative Approach to Agile Project Management .................................................................... 9The Agile with Scrum Sprint Planning Process.............................................................................. 11What is Agile Project Management Release Planning? ................................................................ 14The Role of Scrum Master ............................................................................................................ 1612 Principles of Agile Project Management.................................................................................. 1930 Day Free Software Trial ............................................................................................................ 24 © 2013 All Rights Reserved 2
  3. 3. The 4 Values of Agile & ScrumAgile software development is a way of developing software that has surfacedover the past decade. It focuses on getting working software up and runningabove an incessant and unnecessary amount of up front planning anddocumentation that quickly becomes outdated.One of the more popular methodologies of agile software development is scrum.Scrum is a way that self-directed project teams can work in very shortdevelopment cycles, receive immediate feedback from end users, and continuallylook for ways to improve the way they get things done.There has been a considerable amount of information written about agile &scrum software development. But, what are some of the underlying values thatare behind agile & scrum. The following is a list of four of these values:Individuals and Interactions over Process and ToolsThere are three things that are needed in any software development company todeliver their products. These three things are People, Process, and Technology.People are needed in order to get the work done. Processes must be in place inorder to provide a path to follow (similar to an assembly line) for the work to becomplete. Finally, Technology is what the people in the company will use tocreate the software that is being put together on the assembly line. In recent years process and technology have taken precedence over people. This has resulted in a “dumbing down” of decisions that are being made because everything is relegated to the realm of process and technology. Enter Agile & Scrum. Rather than an email being sent out to 7 people, an agile team member would get up and walk out of their cube and go to another agile team member and talk to them face-to-face. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 3
  4. 4. They would lay out the situation; provide all the nuances of what is happeningand the concern about the impact that is going to have on the project. The secondperson may not have the immediate answer but they get with another teammember, huddle up in a conference room for 30-minutes and get the problemresolved.That’s people over process or technology. The same principle applies to everyonethat needs to provide input be it management, a customer or anotherdepartment. Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation A criticism sometimes leveled against agile & scrum is the apparent lack of planning and documentation that is created. However, it is really not the case as agile & scrum advocates ongoing planning, not just at the beginning of a project. Documentation creation is also ongoing in an agile & scrumenvironment as well. It just appears in a different form than people are used towith other methodologies. There are stories, charts, product backlogs, acceptancetests, and the biggest piece of documentation of all…working software.Rather than spending so much time up front on documentation that rarely getsused, agile & scrum teams use just enough documentation to get them througheach sprint and through the next release of the software.Customer Collaboration and Contract NegotiationThe underlying value and the spirit of agile & scrum development is to give theclient what they want - working software that helps solve their problem.Agile & scrum encourage customercollaboration and contract negotiation.Customer involvement throughout thesoftware building process and iterativereviews allow the customer to see wherethe software solution is going. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 4
  5. 5. It’s possible for customers to change their mind on the software functionality, if itdoes not meet their needs, without derailing the entire project.Software development service providers must negotiate a fair and profitable wayfor this collaboration to occur. The best case scenario to enable suchcollaboration is a time and materials based agreement, as opposed to a fixed feeagreement. Any fixed contract could ultimately lead to your company losing money as the needs of the client change over time. Respond to Change vs. Following a Plan Embracing change rather than just blindly following a plan is a value inherent to agile & scrum. Software development teams need to be able to adapt to change rather than blindly follow a plan that was set in place months or possibly years before. Constantly inspect thecurrent situation and adapt to your environment accordingly.Even if you have not fully embraced the agile methodology in your company youcan start following the principles above. Just having a different mindset andapproach to your next project will yield big results.The Benefits of the Scrum MethodologyThere has been a shift towards more agile project management methodologies inrecent years. This has opened up the door for more iterative releases and closedthe window of time between each next major release. The following are some ofthe benefits of implementing a methodology such as the scrum methodology.More Frequent Releases: The scrum methodology focuses on more frequentreleases with less functionality. Initially this may come across as being negative.Who would want less functionality? Well, rather than wait 4-6 months for all thefunctionality to be released at once, the scrum methodology enables releases tobe accelerated. In most cases functionality can be released every 4-6 weeks! The © 2013 All Rights Reserved 5
  6. 6. development cycle is actually called a Sprint, which speaks to the abbreviatednature of the scrum methodology.Focus on Feature Set, Usability, and Value to the EndUser: The iterative nature of the scrum methodologylends itself toward a laser sharp focus on features,usability, and value to the end user. Each release mustdeliver value to the end user. At a certain level, it could beviewed as a phased approach to the major releases.Rather than waiting for everything to be done all at thesame time, functionality is released as it comes online.Iterative Approach Allows for Changes andImprovements: Agile project management methodologies such as the scrummethodology embrace change. The waterfall method that is so common for majorreleases is typically resistant to change. There are forms, meetings, approvals, andother controls put in place for the purpose of preventing change withconventional methodologies. The iterative nature of the scrum methodologylooks for perpetual feedback and then adjusts the plan and feature setsaccordingly.Lends itself to SaaS: The Software as a Service (SaaS) model provides end usersan online service as needed via a monthly subscription. Part of the expectationaround the SaaS model is that there will be ongoing changes and improvementsto the software. This encourages subscribers to renew month after month. Thescrum methodology makes this easy to occur.The days of waiting 4-6 monthsbetween major releases areover. People don’t have thattype of patience and there arealternatives to having to waitthat long. Even if you don’tadopt the scrum methodology inits entirety, there are certainprinciples and values you canuse that will allow your projectsto move along on the fast track. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 6
  7. 7. The Pro’s and Con’s of ScrumPRO Flexibility: The main benefit of using scrum for software development is itsflexibility. The very nature of scrum is designed to inspect and adapt. Small, bite-size chunks of functionality and development work called ‘stories’ are defined andselected to work on in short, iterative, and self-contained bursts of development.This affords an incredible amount of flexibility for a number of reasons:Feedback comes in fast and furious: At the end of each short development cycle(called a sprint) the team shows everyone what has been accomplished and isnow ready for their feedback. The feedback will come back about what they like,what didn’t work quite the way they expected, and input on some other areasthat may need attention based upon the changing needs of the business. Thisfeedback is then reviewed and, if appropriate, included in the next short sprint.You Don’t Get Too Far off the Correct Path: Other development methodologiescan allow months and months to pass before anything is ever at the point ofbeing reviewed or demoed. The primary focus in the early stages of non-agilemethods concentrates on documentation and lots of it. By the time functionalityof the software is demoed, market conditions and business needs could havechanged so drastically that the initial solution that seemed like the right thing todo is now way off the correct path.In scrum, there are really not phases in the conventional sense of softwaredevelopment. There is not a lot of upfront design, paperwork, and forms to befilled out never to be looked at again. Rather, it focuses on development andgetting usable software to the internal or external customer. This allows thesoftware to not get too far off the beaten path or become irrelevant as a solution.The scrum team selects what they will work on: There is a prioritized list offunctionality that is assembled by the product owner on the scrum team. Theteam has the flexibility of choosing which areas of functionality they will work onnext that will be included in the next sprint.The date of the completion of the sprint doesn’t change, however, whatfunctionality makes it into the next release of software may change dependingupon the work that was able to be accomplished. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 7
  8. 8. An obvious upside of scrum is its flexibility. The amount of immediate feedbackand the ability for the team to turn on a dime really makes this methodologygreat for many software companies.CON Flexibility: One of the drawbacks from scrum is, yes, its flexibility. The veryquality that makes scrum so appealing to use is also the one area that needs to bemonitored very closely from a business perspective.Here’s the scenario. The company that uses scrum sells a software applicationthat many clients use. The sales people and project managers at a company areresponsible for interfacing with these customers that purchase this software.There are constant requests that come in from these customers forenhancements and improvements.These items are prioritized by the product owner on the scrum team and includedon a cumulative list of items to be worked on by the team called a productbacklog. The scrum team will then pick the items that make it into the nextdevelopment cycle and add these to the sprint backlog. It is this sprint backlogthat includes the new features and functionality that will be included in the nextrelease of software.The clients want to know what is going to be included in this upcoming release.You provide them with a high-level overview of the sprint backlog so they have anidea of what will be coming down the pipe.The scrum team begins working and find out that they run into technical issueswith a piece of functionality that takes longer to figure out than they had planned.This means something gets bumped out of the sprint backlog and opens up apotentially uncomfortable conversation with a client depending upon how criticalthe functionality is in their eyes.That’s part of the challenge. It is the team that makes the final decisions on whatwill be included and what will not be included in the next release. At times thisdecision may come across as arbitrary or not rooted in what is important in thebigger picture of the application within the eyes of the customers.True, this is a problem that surfaces with most development methodologies. Itjust feels that due to the iterative and frequent number of releases with scrumthat this conversation has to be had on a regular basis. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 8
  9. 9. Does scrum work? Absolutely! It has brought peace and averted manycontentious and disastrous situations using outdated methodologies. Just beaware of the fact that it has the potential for being a two edged sword and you’llbe pleased with the results.An Iterative Approach to Agile Project ManagementThere is an increasing shift toward an iterative approach to project management.This approach acknowledges the fact that it’s next to impossible to knoweverything up front. The iterative approach is designed to figure out the detailsalong the way and then make the best decisions possible based upon the currentinformation available.Why is the Iterative Approach to Agile Project ManagementNecessary?There used to be a time when project managers would delude themselves that allof the requirements for a particular project would be known up-front so atremendous amount of time was spent gathering requirements and compiling allkinds of design documentation. Reality then hit because there is really no way toobtain and document everything you will need to know about a project, for anumber of reasons:Users Are Not Sure What they Want: It is hard for clients to articulate exactlywhat they want until they see it. This means a tremendous amount of time couldbe spent in up-front planning only to find out it’s really not what the client had inmind at all. That’s why an iterative approach to agile project management is amust. It allows “baby steps” to be taken as the client uncovers and discoversexactly what it is that they are looking for their project to accomplish.Business Needs Change: Project durations can last anywhere from a couple ofweeks up to many years. During this time there are all sorts of pressures that canbe exerted on a company and the projects that are currently underway. Acompetitor could have recently introduced a new product that is underminingyour customer base or, there may be financial pressures from within yourcompany that necessitate revising the scope of a project to make it moreaffordable. Perhaps resource contentions with other departments make it © 2013 All Rights Reserved 9
  10. 10. necessary to adjust the duration of the project. When discovered as a project isunderway, adjustments will need to be made to the project.Technologies Change: The project could have started under the umbrella of onetechnology, but it soon becomes apparent that a better technology has justemerged. It is beneficial for the project to take advantage of this new technology,but this will require some adjustments while the project is already underway.Principles of Iterative Approach to Agile Project ManagementAgility means that something or someone is quick, nimble, and able to respond tothe present circumstances at a moment’s notice. It is these qualities that agileproject management strives to embrace. In doing so, the following agile projectmanagement principles will help an agile project manager keep up with change asit occurs:Deliver a Working Product Early and Often: One of the only ways that you will beable to determine what a client really wants is to show them what you have. Inorder for you to show them what you have sooner rather than later, you must usethe iterative approach to project management. Former times would have heldback the goods for the client to see until near the very end of the project. Thiswas many times met with disappointment as the results were nothing like theclient had imagined up front.To prevent client disappointment, deliver small, bite-size pieces of workingsoftware or project deliverables as they become available, for client feedback.They may absolutely hate what is delivered yet at least at this point you canreadjust the plan or deliverable accordingly and get the project back on trackbefore its way too late.Test Along the Way: Another important concept of the iterative approach toagile project management is to test and fix bugs along the way. Developmentmethods such as the Waterfall Method would have all of the development workcomplete before the testing group would ever lay their hands on the project. Thismany times led to costly rework from a bug that had snaked its way through therest of the application.Agile project management can discover and exterminated bugs early on in theproject with the understanding that a bug that is fixed as soon as it is found, ismuch less costly to fix than one that has infiltrated an entire system. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 0
  11. 11. Document What You Need: Team members will rarely reference everything thathas been written about a project instead referencing only what they need to getthe job done. The iterative approach to agile project management will providejust enough information for that particular cycle of a project. Moredocumentation is provided once it is needed for the next cycle of the project. It’sthis approach that keeps the administrative burden to a minimum and at thesame time provides team members with exactly what they need to complete theproject.Break Down Silos: A final concept around the iterative approach to agile projectmanagement is that small groups of people from across disciplines are pulledtogether to get the job done. This prevents just one group or team of people fromholding up the project, but rather allows others to work on the projectconcurrently.With dozens of people and countless activities to be managed across multiplelocations and environments conventional project management can quicklybecome very challenging. With an iterative approach that focuses onaccomplishing just a few small steps at a time you’ll be surprised at how muchprogress you can make.The Agile with Scrum Sprint Planning ProcessThe sprint planning process used in the agile with scrum development consists oftwo meetings. The first is to determine what will be done in the next sprint. Thesecond meeting is to determine how this agreed-upon work will be done.You will end up with very powerful and long-lasting results once these twomeetings have occurred and the results are combined. If you have one meetingwithout the other or never combine the results, chances are extraordinarily highthat nothing will happen. So here we discuss how to get the most out of this twopart planning processPart I – What Will We Do?The first agile with scrum sprint planning meeting focuses on what will be doneduring the next sprint. The product owner is the driver and brings out a list ofstories important for the upcoming sprint. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 1
  12. 12. Stories are what users want the software in development to accomplish. Forexample, a user needs the software to sort and filter the final set of productsreturned by the application or, the user needs to be able to select a product andput it in their cart for purchase.How does the product owner determine what products will make it into thenext sprint?Carry-overs from the previous sprint: Typically, a handful of stories may not havebeen finished in the previous sprint. These are good candidates for inclusion inthe current agile with scrum sprint. The product owner determines what storiesare still relevant, and includes and prioritizes them accordingly.Feedback from the Users: The nature of the agile with scrum developmentmethodology is that it responds quickly to feedback from the user. Additionally,agile methodology believes in releasing smaller sets of functionality morefrequently rather than waiting on massive amounts of functionality releasedinfrequently. This allows users to assess the newest release and say what they likeor don’t like about the functionality. This feedback becomes part of the productowner’s prioritization process.A Changing Marketplace: A third area that provides stories to be included in thenext release is what the marketplace is doing. Competitors may have come upwith a new feature that you need to include in your software. Or, there may be anopportunity to optimize software with new functionality.Once the product owner determines the list of stories to be included, she willdiscuss it with the team. They will vet out each story based on their currentunderstanding with questions, ideas, and clarifications. The team then determineswhether or not to include it in the next agile with scrum sprint. They will already have an idea of how long each story will take to implement as the estimating work has been done prior to this meeting. It’s now a matter of filling up the development cart with the number of hours allocated for the next sprint. For example, it may be a two week sprint with four resources working full-time at a © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 2
  13. 13. 75% utilization rate, which allows for 240 hours to be applied toward thesestories. The team picks those stories that add up to this number of hours.A word of caution for teams that are new to the scrum sprint planning process: becareful to not over-commit. It’s easy to be optimistic early on, but when the teamrealizes that they won’t be able to meet their commitment, it only leads todisappointment and frustration. It’s better to under-commit and over-deliver thanthe other way around.Notice the delineation of responsibility that is also occurring at this point in theagile with scrum sprint planning process. The product owner determines theprioritization of what will be worked on, whereas the development team focuseson the viability of that selection and further hones that list.You now have the first part of the agile with scrum sprint planning process; aprioritized and agreed upon list of activity that will make it into the next sprint.You’re now ready to move into the second part, which is deciding how the workwill be done.Part II – How Will We Do It?The development team now gets their hands on the list of stories that everyonehas agreed to undertake for the next sprint. They begin breaking the stories downinto tasks and activities and doling them out to the team. There is a give and takeas ‘progressive elaboration’ occurs. Team members begin working on their tasks.However, software development falls into the realm of ‘you don’t know what youdon’t know.’ Once more information is uncovered about the task it may needmore hours to complete. This is discussed with the team and ultimately productowner as it may jostle some of the other high priority stories on the list.The team will get better at estimating durations over time. They may evenconsider using some of the alternate estimating measurements below:Number of Hours: This is the most common and easy to understand concept ofestimating. The team calculates the number of hours it will take to complete thestories against the actual number of hours available.Number of Points: Points can be assigned to various tasks based upon their levelof complexity. Points are then tallied up until the maximum number for thecurrent sprint has been reached. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 3
  14. 14. Number of Tasks: Tasks can be counted if they are similar in size for the sprint.Tasks are added to the sprint until it has reached its allotted number.Determining WHAT you will do does no good unless you know HOW you will do it.Knowing HOW you will do something but being unsure of WHAT you are going todo is also not good. Both elements carry equal weight when trying to get the mostwork out of your team and fully utilizing the agile with scrum sprint planningprocess.What is Agile Project Management Release Planning?Agile project management releaseplanning is as its name implies: flexible.Agile project management is designedto be able to turn on a dime and pivotin real-time as needs andcircumstances change.This is predicated on the fact that smaller releases executed over smaller timeframes will ideally not change much. Then, as that release cycle is underway,feedback and adjustments can be made that will move into the next release.Agile project management carries with it a number of benefits, such as smallerreleases providing for new functionality faster and the end-users feedbackconstantly incorporated into the end product. This allows it to align closer withtheir final expectations.Understanding what agile project management release planning requires carriessome inherent risks that are not typically present in conventional softwaredevelopment methodologies, such as the Waterfall Method.The very flexibility that makes an agile project management plan so appealing canalso be the nemesis of project managers who are used to working with morestructured and formal methodologies.Two Views of Agile Project Management Release PlanningThere are two distinct views on how agile project management release planning isaccomplished. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 4
  15. 15. Fixed Date: The fixed date approach draws aline in the sand when it comes to the date theproject must be complete. There is nonegotiation when it comes to the date beingmet, for example a project to support a tradeshow where a new product is beingintroducedThe Challenge: with a fixed data approach the scope of the project may havesome flexibility. The team can commit to a particular date, but they may not beable to commit to 100% of the functionality being requested to be complete. Thegoal should be to get as much as can possibly be done by the fixed date, and thenroll whatever is left into the next development cycle. What should not beorphaned for the next development cycle, however, are large pieces of criticalfunctionality that must be complete in order for the product to provide value.Fixed Scope: The fixed scope approach draws a line in the sand when it comes tothe features and functionality that must be in the product. There is no negotiationwhen it comes to what is included, but there may be some flexibility around thetime that the project is complete. This may be the case when there are only ahandful, or one, new feature being introduced and releasing the product withoutthat functionality would be meaningless.The Challenge: Flexibility in the timing of the project needs to remain reasonable.For example, a 6-8 week development cycle that drags on another 6-8 weeks hastotally missed the mark. With agile development teams it’s understood thatschedules may slip days or a week on short development cycles, but it shouldn’tbe much longer than that.Devil’s Advocate “But, I have a fixed date and a fixed scope”Welcome to one of the biggest challenges of project management - workingwithin the triple constraint of scope, cost and time. It’s at this point that harddecisions and trade-offs will need to be made. You want to be as accommodatingas you can as a project manager, but when requests become unreasonable anduntenable then you need to raise your hand and say no. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 5
  16. 16. The Role of Scrum MasterBelow are some of the functions the Scrum Master serves:CoachOne word that can be used to describe what thescrum master does is to be a coach. This can becorrelated to what a sports coach does for theirteam. They guide, admonish, strengthen, andpush their team to perform their very best.This is typically somebody who has a deepunderstanding, love, and appreciation for thesport and wants to share this experience withothers on the team.It is similar with the scrum master. This person is typically very knowledgeableabout how the scrum methodology works and is passionate about its success. Thisexcitement is then shared with others on the team in their various roles. The goalof the scrum master as coach is to push their team to always work bettertogether, self-organize, and increase their performance.PeerDespite the term ‘master’ that is used in scrum master, the scrum master is notthe ‘boss’ or manager of the team. This may be hard to understand forconventional project managers who have come from a hierarchical, top-downapproach to managing people on their teamThe scrum master is not higher in rank than anyone else on the team. It is theirresponsibilities that give them this name and separate them from other teammembers. The scrum master has certain functions that they are responsible forfulfilling and this is done in their capacity as an equal peer with the rest of theteam. © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 6
  17. 17. Scrum Expert… the Scrum Master will typically serve as the scrum expert on the team. Thismeans they are responsible for helping the team optimize the use of scrum as themethodology they have chosen to build their software.This expert role is implemented in a number of ways. This can range from thescrum master facilitating meetings, making sure team members understand theirrespective roles on the team, to helping others use and understand the variousscrum artifacts that are necessary to keep a team running smoothly.One thing the scrum master should be careful to stay away from and that isconstantly pointing out to their team members when they are “doing scrumwrong”. This is counterproductive and does not fit into the description of whatthe scrum master should be doing. Rather, the scrum master should catch peopledoing things right, and then, in the spirit of a coach show them how things can bedone better.Remover of ObstaclesThis is part of the role of scrummaster that is comparable to that of aproject manager. They need to beable to remove obstacles andimpediments out of the way of theirteam mates.An obstacle or impediment may beanything that slows the team down from getting their work done. This couldinclude unnecessary approval processes, slow responsiveness from otherdepartments, or maybe even updating outdated hardware or systems.The team should be able to count on the scrum master to clear the path ahead ofthem. This will allow them to focus on the work that is currently on their plate toaccomplish and get it done as efficiently and effectively as possible.Dispenser of InformationAnother big role that the scrum master plays is to constantly dispenseinformation to project stakeholders about where the current sprint and © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 7
  18. 18. development effort stand. This can be done via the various artifacts of scrum (i.e.backlogs to burn down charts) and just common-sense communication efforts.Facilitator‘Facilitate’ is a great word and sums up what a scrum master should do for theirteam. Facilitate means “to make easier or less difficult, help forward”. The goal ofa scrum master is to make the tasks, activities, and day of each of their teammembers easier and less difficult. This can be done by doing each of the itemsabove and keeping the attitude of being a peer at the forefront.Is the Scrum Master a Dedicated Role?There is some discussion about how involved thescrum master should be when it comes to the actualdevelopment work that is underway. One school ofthought is that the scrum master should beexclusively dedicated to their role described aboveand not get buried in the day to day pressures,deadlines, and constraints that come from actuallyhaving to do the work themselves. Others feel as ifthe role described above may not consume 100% ofthe time that is available and any leftover time canbe devoted to toward development work.There are pros and cons to each approach. If a scrum master is involved indevelopment activities they could find themselves in the critical path of a projectthat is underway. This means that when the going gets tough or deadlines arelooming they will most likely default to getting their own work done. This isunderstandable based upon the pressure that is put upon their particulardeliverable. But, it could also let the team suffer during a time that they especiallyneed someone filling the role of scrum master.The upside of a scrum master filling both roles is that the company may feel as ifthey are getting more for their money by not having to invest in two people to fillthe roles.On the other hand, a person that is a 100% dedicated scrum master focusesexclusively on the activities mentioned above. They are the person that constantly © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 8
  19. 19. has the big picture in mind and is always looking around the corner for what couldbe in the way of the project moving forward, or what opportunities could betaken advantage of to bring the sprint to a more expeditious completion.The downside of this approach is that there may need to be more resourcesapplied to the project from a technical perspective and may cost the companyadditional money.Is the scrum master some mysterious super-being that wields their mysteriouspower over their minions? Absolutely not! Rather, a scrum master is just one partof a highly effective team that is focused on getting the right features into eachproduct release. The end result is a working piece of software that brings thegreatest amount of satisfaction to the end user.12 Principles of Agile Project ManagementThere has been much written on the subject of agile software development andby extension agile project management.To go back to the source of this knowledge you can spend a little bit of time to get an idea of where this all started, the values thismethodology holds dear, along with the 12 guiding principles the original teamespoused.The 12 principles of agile project management follow along with commentary onhow and why each of these principles is beneficial in the rough and tumble worldof software development. Principle 1: Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. The competitive advantage of a customer centric focus is many times lost in the shuffle of corporate politics and bureaucracy. The first principle of agile © 2013 All Rights Reserved 1 9
  20. 20. project management serves to principle reminds us that software is built to be foran end user. Created to help people do their job more efficiently and effectivelyor, to enable end users to perform tasks that previously were out of their reach.Principle 2: Welcome changing requirements, even late indevelopment. Agile processes harness change for thecustomers competitive advantage.Conventional and linear software development and project managementmethodologies cringe at the idea of change. However, you can almost be assuredthat there is not one software project in existence that made it from beginning toend without changes. Agile project management methodologies and softwaredevelopment embrace this fact. They view it as an opportunity for the endproduct to end up being closer to what the client or end user wanted and thusincreases its usability and satisfaction.Principle 3: Deliver working software frequently, from acouple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference tothe shorter timescale.Previous methods of developing software would concentrate on an incredibleamount of documentation up front under the guise of vetting out 100% of therequirements that were needed for a particular project. The reality is that after acouple of months what you ended up with is a whole bunch of very nice and verythick documentation but no working software to show for it. Agile projectmanagement concentrates on creating and implementing working softwarefrequently.Principle 4: Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project as such collaboration helps maintain the agility of © 2013 All Rights Reserved 2 0
  21. 21. software and the ability for it to change in order to keep up with the changingmarketplace.This is a foreign concept to many that have worked in software development yetnot worked within the parameters of agile project management. This principleneeds to be taught, learned, and reinforced because it’s not something that willcome naturally to most people.Principle 5: Build projects around motivated individuals. Givethem the environment and support they need, and trust themto get the job done.In other words, there’s no need to micromanage teams that is following agileproject management methodologies. There’s no one that knows better whatneeds to be done and how it needs to be done than these self-directed teams.Allow teams to figure things out, make their own decisions, and move the projectforward. An agile project manager (scrum master) is there to support and enablethem to get their work done.Principle 6: The most efficient and effective method ofconveying information to and within a development team isface-to-face conversation.Much has been lost in the art of communication due ironically, to technology.Technology allows developers and business people to make it throughout theirentire day without talking to anyone, if they so choose. The use of email, instantmessages, text and other forms of communication have displaced face-to-facecommunication. While these technologies have their place, keep in mind thatthere is nothing better than face-to-face communication if you really want tounderstand someone or be understood yourself.Principle 7: Working software is the primary measure ofprogress.Simple, right? Think about all of the other measures of progress that have beenused in the past. Number of open bugs, number of closed bugs, velocity of bugs © 2013 All Rights Reserved 2 1
  22. 22. being fixed, and hours spent on a project, hours remaining on a project, budgetconsumed, budget yet to go, etc. These are important measurements, but, theyare really all the overhead that is necessary to get the software working correctly.That’s what needs to be measured. Principle 8: Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely It used to be very cool back in the early days ofsoftware development and not-so agile project management methodologies toget down to crunch-time at the end of a project schedule. This is when there wasonly 2-3 days left before the software was to be delivered and there was 2-3weeks of work left to go. Everyone would hunker down, pizzas would be ordered,cots would be set up and the all-nighters would begin. Great times, maybe.Sustainable? No way. This type of crunch-time schedules became a normal way ofworking for many developers and created all kinds of issues ranging from burnoutto health problems.Principle 9: Continuous attention to technical excellence andgood design enhances agility.This means take pride in your work. Agile teams aren’t just a bunch of hacks thatare throwing code together to get a shoddy product out the door. They take thetime to review their solution, determine the best approach and then implementwith far-sighted vision on where the product is going in the future.Principle 10: Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount ofwork not done--is essential.Simplicity is genius. The ability to take something extremely complicated and thenmake it easy to understand for everyone involved with the project is a true artform. A goal of agile project management is to make this possible more oftenthan not. This many times flies in the face of corporate culture and what © 2013 All Rights Reserved 2 2
  23. 23. managers are looking for in their employees. They want to see busy-ness…even ifthey are working on things that are unnecessary and non value-add.Principle 11: The best architectures, requirements, anddesigns emerge from self-organizing teams.Teams that practice agile project management are strongest when they are self-directing. There is an aversion to a top-down, know-it-all, hierarchical approachand more of a “we’re all contributors to the solution” approach. Everyone is freeto offer suggestions on the best implementation ideas, architectures,requirements and other aspects about the project to make it the best resultpossible.Principle 12: At regular intervals, the team reflects on how tobecome more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavioraccordingly.Inspect and adapt is an overarching principle of agile project management. Justbecause something is written down somewhere or this is the way something hasbeen done for years does not mean that it needs to stay that way. The teamshould always be asking if a particular way is the best way of doing things. If it’snot then adjustments can be made and the new way can be implemented goingforward.The 12 twelve principles above seem to make perfect sense when you look atthem in the context of agile project management. However, these wererevolutionary principles when they were first introduced. Many have taken theseprinciples and made them their own for the benefit of themselves, their teams,their companies, and ultimately the users of their working software! © 2013 All Rights Reserved 2 3
  24. 24. 30 Day Free Software TrialThere are two key differences between and its competitors.The first is that we give you all of the features you need to plan, track and report onprojects efficiently. The second key difference is that our competitors charge a highupfront price as well as annual maintenance fees for new releases.Here at we offer you all of the features you need to manageprojects, at a small monthly price of just $25 per user. That simple! When you sign up, you also get for free: Unlimited Projects 3 Gigs of Document Storage Client Login Free Upgrade to New ReleasesTake Action, Sign-Up for a 30 Day Free Trial Today! Take a Free Trial Create your own Projects Sign up to boost your project successAny questions? Email andone of our friendly support staff will be happy to help. Wealso recommend a visit our resource library if you wouldlike access to further:-  project management tips  video tutorials  project management templates © 2013 All Rights Reserved 2 4