Scrum teams get together to decide on the work items for their next sprint in the sprint planning meeting. But is that the beginning of the conversation for the upcoming sprint, or are there some things that should be done before that?
The first and most important consideration is to have a live product backlog that is up to date and prioritized with changing business needs. The product owner must have a constant eye on adding, removing, editing and updating items in the product backlog. When the time approaches to get into planning the next sprint, the product manager must bring to the table a list of the highest-value items that the team can pick from.
The product owner must spend time researching each of the features and trying to lay out in simple terms the actual need they each describe. They may use bulleted points or simple sentences to explain the feature in some detail. We see this happening mostly during or after the sprint planning meeting, but if any requirements are known before the meeting, the product owner can get a head start.
There are many processes in a typical project that don’t transition well to agile because they require heavyweight documentation or are an inherent part of the phased and gated process & require signoffs at the end of each stage.
“Metrics can be controversial”
Measurements such as cycle time that involve the whole team are more likely to drive you toward success than measures confined to isolated roles or groups.
Lean development looks for ways to delight customers, which ought to be the goal for all software development.
Metrics that measure milestones along a journey to achieve team goals are useful.
When you are trying to figure out what to measure, first understand what problem you are trying to solve. If your goals are measurable, the measurements you need to gather to track the metrics will be obvious.
Figure each metrics Return on Investment and decide whether to track or maintain it. Does the effort spent collecting it justify the value it delivers? Can it be easily communicated and understood? Do what works for your situation. Experiment with keeping a particular metric for a few sprints and evaluate whether it is paying off.
“Projects succeed when people are allowed to do their best work”
Defects tracking systems (DTS) are too often used as communication tools & entering unnecessary bugs can be wasteful. Focus on using DTS for the right reasons.
Whether your team decides to create a test plan or not, the planning should be done. Each project is different, so don’t expect that the same solution will fit all.
Regarding Audits, Processes & Models
Traditional quality processes & process improvement models like SAS 70 and CMMI standards can co-exist with agile.
Quality assurance teams in traditional development organisations are often tasked with providing information for auditors and ensuring compliance with audit requirements.
Examples include what testing has been performed on given software release or proving that different accounts reconcile.
Testers can be tasked with writing test plans to evaluate the effectiveness of control activities.
Work together with the compliance and internal audit teams to understand your team’s responsibilities.
If your organisation is using some kind of process model or quality standard, educate yourself about it and work with the appropriate specialists in your organisation.
Process improvement models and frameworks emphasize discipline and conformance to process.
“Standards simply enable you to measure your progress towards your goal”
Working with existing quality processes and models is one of the biggest cultural issues you may face as you transition to agile development. All of these changes are hard, but when your whole team gets involves, none are insurmountable.
The use of advanced technology in business environments can sometimes be jarring. Adjustments can be difficult, and on top of that many employees across a range of industries worry that technology can make them obsolete. These can be legitimate concerns in some cases. But, more often than not, technology serves instead to simplify processes and, ultimately, make life easier on people as they go about performing their jobs. This is certainly proving to be the case where project management is concerned.
Project management demands and processes vary across different businesses and industries, which means that not all teams in this category can implement modern technology in exactly the same ways. Here we’ll examine a few key ways in which tech can and has changed project management for the better.
Communication & File Sharing
Maybe the biggest change that technology has brought about for project management teams is a simplification of communication among groups in a work setting. In 2019, our post on ‘Overcoming Barriers to Effective Communications in Agile Teams’ touched on the idea that various barriers to regular communication can negatively impact productivity. And the same is absolutely true for project management teams of all kinds.
Now, however, there are several different communications platforms that are being used in professional environments to streamline collaboration. Often enough, they’re used to simplify digital communications in office environments in general, providing a space where everyone from a manager to a part-time freelancer can log in, see shared information, engage in relevant chats, and generally stay up to speed. These platforms can also be invaluable for project management teams.
For instance, think about a fairly common project such as developing a website or an app for a business. These are projects that involve contributions from people with different skills in conjunction with one another. A page design can’t be completed without understanding of the content layout; content layout can’t be finalized without a thoroughly developed visual aesthetic, and so on. On these modern communication platforms, these matters can easily be discussed between relevant parties such that the greater project can move forward. Updates and examples can be shared, and people can easily work with relevant collaborators whenever they need to.
In the past, one issue that plagued some project management teams is how to get everyone on the same page in more multi-faceted projects. There haven’t always been structured ways for different aspects of one overarching project to be addressed in a cohesive manner. This is changing, however, thanks in large part to both abstract and specific software.