Project Management

No More Watermelon Status Reports: How to Use Stories to Explain Project State

Mass Bay Chapter

Johanna Rothman, known as the "Pragmatic Manager," offers frank advice for your tough problems. She helps leaders and teams learn to see simple and reasonable things that might work. Equipped with that knowledge, they can decide how to adapt their product development. Her recent books are the "Modern Management Made Easy" series and "Create Your Successful Agile Project."

Lisa, an agile project manager, dutifully completed her project status deck every iteration to send to her leadership. She hated creating that deck for several reasons: she knew the data she reported wasn’t the data the senior leaders needed.

Some of the leaders still wanted to know the schedule variance—which made no sense in an agile project. Other leaders wanted story points—or worse, the story points an individual delivered. She flat-out refused to even consider that as a measure.

Some leaders even wanted her to create a Gantt chart for the entire project, even though the team only planned for two weeks at a time.

She’d offered them alternative measures, such as cycle time, defect escapes and team satisfaction. Her leaders didn’t want that data. They wanted much more traditional data.

Lisa was worried that her leaders did not understand how the project was proceeding. Right now, the project was in trouble because the cycle time was long and too many people were multitasking on other projects. She knew that the project was headed to a watermelon status. That’s when the project looks great for a while, but all of a sudden, the status turns red. That’s the watermelon—green on the outside, red on the inside.

Lisa needed a new plan.

Before she tried to convince her managers—again—that they needed …

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