A battle-scarred Delivery Director, I’ve been in the Agile world for a while now, and still the debate rages on; why is Agile so hard to scale successfully? And what if anything, can we do about it? Interview questions often focus on people’s experience using scaling frameworks such as SAFe and DAD. But not all […]Tell me more >
agile project management
In many different projects and organisations, I’ve seen people struggle with techniques on how to solve issues without creating huge issue registers that weigh down the project and takes an inordinate amount of time to manage, resulting in the actual problems often not getting the attention they deserve. There are lots of agile techniques for […]Tell me more >
I was recently asked to do a short talk and Q&A for an agile project management meetup in London. You can see the full video here: https://skillsmatter.com/skillscasts/7115-agile-project-management-in-a-larger-organisation Lots of great questions, so hope this gives you some useful insight that helps you with your own work. Kelly.Tell me more >
A burn-down chart can use anything for the units, such as hours or points, but originally Scrum's burn-down chart tracked hours of work remaining in the iteration. Many people still use an hours-based burn-down chart as their primary measure of progress during an iteration. That’s a useful tool, but it is similar to tracking yardage in an (American) football game. It measures activity, but not accomplishment. After all, what percentage of a touchdown is 30 yards?
Working Software is the Primary Measure of Progress
One of the principles from the Agile Manifesto is "Working software is the primary measure of progress". But burning down hours is measuring and reinforcing progress against a plan without any requirement to have working software until the end of the iteration. That's pretty much the same as not having to have working software until the end of a waterfall release! This is one of the reasons that many people have moved away from burning down hours or supplemented it with other tools, such as burning up story points.
Burning Up Points to the Rescue
A points-based burn-up chart lets you see graphically day-by-day how much progress you are making towards your goal. It only records accomplishment, not activity, and allows you to see if you are on track or getting behind. To me, this is exactly what is meant by "Working software is the primary measure of progress."
Won't The Chart be Empty Until the End of the Iteration?
At first you may think that the chart will show that you are behind for most of the iteration and catch up only at the end when QA is able to start testing and marking stories as done, but whenever the chart shows something other than a steady march to the end of the iteration, here are some of the questions you should be asking:
- Are our user stories too big? Is that preventing QA from getting involved earlier?
- Are people working on too many stories at once?
- Are we unable to produce a stable build for QA to test?
- Are developers producing a bunch of problems and then going on to the next story instead of helping QA resolve the problem?
- Should the developers drop what they are doing and lend a hand writing automated tests?
- Use story points for estimation, it enables whole-team thinking such as this whole-team metric.
- Make stories as small as possible to get them done as fast as possible to keep the focus on accomplishment rather than activity
- Have as co-located and as cross-functional a team as possible to enable the fastest possible turn-around time on stories
- Enable the team to work as a team and to manage more things on their own
I’ve been running around lately telling people that the presence of dependencies break Agile. Just for the record, I want to explain what I mean when I talk about dependencies. Agile in general, Scrum specifically, is predicated on the idea that the team has everything it needs to deliver an increment of value. When the [...]Tell me more >
How far ahead should we plan? I depends on what you are building, when you need to have it done… and if you aren’t going to get done… how soon do you need to know about it. If your goal is to build the highest value features possible, deliver continuously to market, get real time [...]Tell me more >
Back in my late 20′s I was a project manager in a pretty good sized IT shop. I worked under a great VP that put me in situations that were really beyond my abilities. He fundamentally believed that I’d do a good job for him. He trusted that I’d learn what I needed to learn [...]Tell me more >
I have long held the belief that agile is only a part and a subset of the wider topic of project management. I feel there are various aspects of project management that aren’t particularly covered by any of the most popular agile methods, or at least not by Scrum and XP (Extreme Programming). Therefore I […]Tell me more >