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Danger, Will Robinson! 5 Anti-Patterns of Agile Adoption

by Bob Galen

As an experienced agile coach, this writer often gets asked about agile tactics and practices--what works and what doesn’t. There are no singular answers, but there are some generative behaviors and rules for agile done well. In this article, he explores a set of common anti-patterns that he sees in an effort to share what not to do in your agile journey.

Scrum, Kanban or Scrumban: When, Why and How?

by Vandana Roy

Is Scrum better, or Kanban? Which is more suitable for your project? Such questions--and sometimes the responses--put managers in a dilemma about which framework to embrace. Each has its own benefits and tales of success...

5 Ways to Compromise Your Team's Success

by Gil Broza

The popularity of agile methods among knowledge workers continues to rise. Unfortunately, most organizations that use such methods are actually not agile friendly. In particular, they have grafted the flat, empowered, collaborative agile team construct onto their existing functional power hierarchy. Here are five agile killers to avoid…

Does Agile Apply to Your Project?

by Johanna Rothman

How do you know if agile applies to your project? If you are like many project managers, your company is in the midst of an agile transition. Maybe you want to transition to agile, maybe you are already agile…but your organization? Not so much. Here are four tips to see if agile applies to your project.

Interchangeable Project Lenses Can Reveal the Unseen

by George Dinwiddie

When we see the same view every day, we get complacent. A prudent project manager does not rely on any single view of the project, as multiple views can expose unforeseen problems and opportunities.

The Music of Agile Testing

by Paul Carvalho

Agile testing is commonly mistaken as only referring to the Quality Assurance/testers on the team. This is a destructive, limited view of this critical agile development piece. This article places the emphasis on the often neglected, misunderstood and essential collaboration tool.

Big Agile, the Route Less Travelled

by Mike Griffiths

In attempting to make agile methods scalable, it is tempting to add more process to assist larger-scale coordination. However, that is the last thing we should do. Scaling collaboration, not process, is the key to enterprise agility.

Are You Ready to Go Agile? (Part 3 of 3)

by Kevin Aguanno, PMP, MAPM, IPMA-B, Cert.APM, CSM, CSP

This is the final article in a three-part series on the factors to consider when determining whether an organization, team or project is “ready” for agile. This third installment continues the discussion by examining factors that are specific to the project itself and whether it is really suited to an agile approach.

Can Agile Teams Get Burned Out?

by Bob Galen

Can agile teams--even high-performing ones--burn out? Of course. Far too many teams seem to schedule their sprints sequentially or back to back, without a pause or break. So if you are suffering from burnout, what are some helpful techniques to refresh and recharge your teams?

Are You Ready to Go Agile? (Part 2 of 3)

by Kevin Aguanno, PMP, MAPM, IPMA-B, Cert.APM, CSM, CSP

This second article continues the discussion by looking at the second group of factors related to the readiness (and willingness) of the project team to adopt agile best practices. As with sponsorship factors, we need to consider cultural, structural and management aspects.

Applying Agile to Emergent Projects

by Johanna Rothman

Most of us work on projects where we know the end date or the budget--or both. But there is a category of projects where we might not know either: emergent projects. Emergent projects are change projects such as your agile transition or any other project that you have no control over. Can you apply agile to those projects? Yes. Carefully.

Debunking Myths about Product Managers

by Ken Whitaker

Project teams quite often assume that the product manager is a true partner--and when a project is under scrutiny or stress, the product manager can transform into a very tough adversary and oftentimes a combative stakeholder. Put yourself in a product manager’s shoes for a change! Let’s explore a couple of myths about product managers that should hopefully spark a new level of collaboration and success…

Getting People to Do the Right Thing

by Gil Broza

Every aspect of product development can be done better or worse. That includes being a team player, writing code, communicating requirements, testing functionality...you name it. But how do you ensure that people do the best thing? And, can you even do that? That is, can you somehow force good practice? And what can you expect to happen by doing so?

Use Cases or User Stories: Where Should Agile Teams Start?

by Kevin Aguanno, PMP, MAPM, IPMA-B, Cert.APM, CSM, CSP

Should an agile team begin with requirements documented as use cases or user stories? Proponents from both sides of the debate make good arguments, leading to confusion for many who are just getting started with agile practices.

Agile Development: Great for Engineers, Not So Much for Project Management

by Tushar Patel

With over half of companies using a blended agile and waterfall approach to development, it’s critical to be aware of how an agile approach affects planning and alignment with the overall business strategy. Here are the most common challenges in enterprise agile development--and some tips for how smart companies are navigating the new landscape.

Three Essential Leadership Practices that Improve Team Ownership

by Pollyanna Pixton

Why is team ownership important? It is essential to agile team success because individuals thrive on ownership. With ownership, you have a stake in the game and push to find the best solution. The difficulty is that most corporate cultures have command-and-control leaders. Here is some help...

Agile Project Management: Keeping it Simple

by Ken Whitaker

Agile project management, and particularly Scrum, can become overwhelmingly consumed by methodology, jargon and rules. This is just the opposite of what was originally intended for agile-lead projects, and it is the communications part of our role that is so important.

Agile Advocacy

by Mike Griffiths

We all need some help sometimes when introducing agile methods into a traditional organization. Fortunately, a new guide to ease the transition is available. The recently published Software Extension to the PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition acts as a Rosetta Stone for mapping and replacing traditional approaches with their agile alternatives.

Leading Your Organization's Transition to Agile

by Johanna Rothman

Are you wondering what it would take to transition your organization to agile, for real? Maybe your organization has made a half-hearted attempt to transition to agile for some projects. Maybe you are the champion, but agile hasn’t gained the traction you expected by now. Consider these five tips to retrench and improve your organization’s transition.

Anything but Waterfall?

by Andy Jordan

Is your organization embracing agile, or rejecting traditional approaches? People look to agile to be more effective than a waterfall-based approach, but to move to agile only because the current approach is failing is shortsighted. In this article, we try to identify a few things to help ensure that agile is a success.

Three Large Banks, Three Different Approaches to Agile Adoption

by Kevin Aguanno, PMP, MAPM, IPMA-B, Cert.APM, CSM, CSP

As the use of agile methods spreads into larger organizations, senior managers struggle to decide their agile adoption strategy. Here are three stories from three large Canadian banks who each took a different adoption approach.

Hiring for Cross-Functional Teams

by Esther Derby

Many hiring managers have practice in assessing broad technical skills. But strong, creative and capable teams result only when those T-shaped people can work interdependently, self-manage, solve group problems and learn together. That implies another set of skills to look for when hiring for a cross-functional team--interpersonal and collaboration skills.

Taking the Long View in Software Development

by George Dinwiddie

Organizations that over-emphasize expediency can set themselves up for long-term losses. This article addresses strategies for taking a balanced approach--specifically, maintaining development capacity, maintaining code asset value and flexible tool selection.

Topic Teasers Vol. 28: Advanced Velocity Usage

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP

Question: We are running our agile projects well and have a good idea of our team velocity. However, we have some issues from management, who thinks that a velocity number is a way to taunt other teams to higher performance. How can we convince them that this is a number unique to each team and to each project?
A. Management usually has a different set of driving motivators, and therefore unless you educate them they will not understand that measuring by velocity already allows teams to speed up and produce better quality to its maximum ability.
B. Velocity is figured per person, as some individuals are better educated and more talented than others. Management should understand that a team without your team’s stars can’t work as fast.
C. When teams figure velocity, they are just guessing. Pressure to meet the standards set by other teams will increase productivity and give the organization more value for their money.
D. Ignore management and other customer leaders who want to know details about your progress. Tell them a finish date and make sure you deliver everything as planned.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

Topic Teasers Vol. 26: Agile Construction

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP

Question: I work in the construction industry and am under some pressure from management to make my projects “more agile”. It makes no sense to me that IT processes would be of any use when building actual residences, industrial sites and office buildings. What am I missing?
A. You are correct is thinking that building a tangible construction is very different than creating a software application that is only electronic bits. The methodologies for each are at odds with each other.
B. If you change the wording, such as “customer demos” to “site inspections” and “constant quality testing” to “meeting technical requirements”, you will find that SCRUM, TDD and other IT methodologies can be used in construction and have extensive training available to you.
C. It is a mistake to believe that agile IT practices are the entirety of what the methodology has to offer. If you investigate the true methodology, you will find there is much to blend with your current processes to add to construction project success.
D. You can use part of the agile philosophy in your construction projects, but plan for extra time and cost to accommodate the changes the customer is now entitled to add as you go.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

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"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter."

- Mark Twain