Agile Project Management: Keeping it Simple

Ken Whitaker of Leading Software Maniacs (LSM) has more than 25 years of software development executive leadership and training experience in a variety of technology roles and industries. He has led commercial software teams at Software Publishing (remember Harvard Graphics?), Data General, embedded systems software companies, and enterprise software suppliers. Ken is an active PMI member, Project Management Professional (PMP) certified, and a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM). Sources for LSM's material come from case studies, personal leadership experience, the PMI Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) and Ken's leadership books: Managing Software Maniacs, Principles of Software Development Leadership and I'm Not God, I'm Just a Project Manager.

In Doug DeCarlo’s insightful book eXtreme Project Management, he identifies innovative ways to streamline processes and simplify a team’s focus. 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.

Being an agile facilitator and leader includes the following key roles and responsibilities:

  • Provide guidance
  • Motivate the team to deliver the project on time
  • Remove obstacles
  • Provide timely, effective communications

It is the communications part of our role that is so important. Let’s take a Scrum project for example.

A Quick Scrum Walkabout
Initially, the scope of a Scrum project is defined by the Scrum plan that includes a definition of each of the product backlog items (features). The most important customer and high-business value items should be prioritized to be implemented first and broken down into tasks in a sprint planning session that is primarily driven by the product owner. A person with the designated role of ScrumMaster facilitates and guides the team.

The team meets frequently (Daily Scrums) with the intent to discuss progress, remove impediments in order to reduce risk, and agree on remaining hours of work to complete. At the completion of every …

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