Project Management

8 Agile Do's & Don'ts to Achieve Project Success

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

Over the past decade, I have worked with many agile-focused professionals, teams and projects. Aside from the role I played (and being cursed with a need to know how things work), I also found myself stepping back and observing what made some agile projects work—and what made others fail.

What follows are my observations and hands-on experience in terms of what to do—and what not to do—when using an agile framework to manage projects.

1. Experience matters! The No. 1 thing that positions a project for success is to have a seasoned and well-rounded project manager/scrum master in place to lead the effort, one that is experienced in the methods and approaches that will be used. Don’t select someone who is still learning them or is unfamiliar/uncomfortable with them.

2. Create a simple process structure and establish a consistent rhythm. The sprint process provides a consistent and structured way for working through the scope of each sprint. Creating a team rhythm for getting things done is a crucial element of the project management process. Sprints accomplish this if they are outcome focused and well time-boxed.

I really like using a task board over project plans or Gantt charts for conducting reviews of the progress on current sprints. Even if you are not using agile, task boards are a great tool due to their graphic Kanban format, drag-and-…

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