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How Agile is Project Management?

How Agile is Project Management?

How Agile is Project Management?

When we, as developers, are asked to deliver a new website tool or piece of functionality we generally have a deadline and a brief. How you hit both the brief and the deadline comes down to Project Management of one sort or another. Over the past fortnight here at PlusNet Towers, we've been trialling a (new for us) development methodology known as 'Scrum'. Developed and championed originally in the mid 90's by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, Scrum promises a simple process to manage complex projects. It has been implemented in many organisations over the years and is recognised widely in the software (and other) industries. Traditional Project Management would tend towards being prescriptive in that the project 'owner' lays out what he wants to see delivered, and by when. The resources (staff) have to organise their schedule to accommodate these demands. If something doesn't go right, the brief is added to, or the resources have to work on many other items, the project deliver date would slip. Scrum takes a different tack and sets out with a mind to deliver priority functionality in regular batches (sprints). The delivery team meets with the ‘product owner’ and commits to deliver what it sees as being a realistic goal within a defined period – the sprint. In Scrum, the deadline would never slip, but perhaps the amount of functionality might be changed, with any outstanding items carried over to the next sprint. It’s an important difference to conventional project management and places a lot of trust in the delivery team. In our trial we’re taking a look at our Manage My Mail tool. We’ve identified a number of improvements we should make from a usability perspective that should make the application easier to use for our customers. I’m the ScrumMaster for this; my role is to facilitate the process and make sure everyone follows the rules that keep the work focused and free from interference. The team itself includes Chris from our Comms team and I know he’ll shortly be posting more information about Scrum and how it works – and what it feels like to be involved in the process. We have a saying here at PlusNet.. ‘It’s all about Delivery’. I like to think of that as ‘if it’s not live it’s not doing anyone any good’ - perhaps Scrum will prove to be a useful tool to help us keep delivering the tools you need and find useful. Pete

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5 Comments
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5 Comments
Not applicable
Nice to hear that you are taking this challenge on. Having worked on this type of project structure myself you either love it or hate it as its totally unconventional to the normal waterfall methods adopted by management in the past. However if done right the structure of Agile lets you deliver rapidly (with XP) with a tighter testing and delivery structure. Lets face it the differnece between ISP's is only the Customer Service lets hope it helps you improve.
Community Gaffer
It's very close to how we normally do stuff, just applying some rules to it to prevent people from distracting us all the time Cheesy
Plusnet Staff
One way that it does offer a significant difference from how we approach delivery is the commitment to deliver agreed functionality by a particular date. Unlike more 'traditional' waterfall approach, the deadline shouldn't slip but the amount of functionality might if snags are experienced during the sprint.
Not applicable
AGILE is NOT any commitment and work after hours! Did you are paying for every extra developers hour? Really? AGILE is engineering and only engineering! If you need any proo,f look on every P1 problems. Every problem is a lack of system designing. You say "we do not broke again" but in fact, you didn't anything to avoid any problem like this, so overall costs of your system is VERY high!
Plusnet Staff
I might have misunderstood your meaning here but I'll try to address your points as I understand them. Firstly, being 'agile' does not mean accepting a compromise on quality. Any work completed under Scrum goes the same rigourous change control, code review and quality assurance processes as any other project. Scrum is about commitment to deliver functionality. Whilst you might expect committed people to work outside of normal working hours it is not expected of them, and in this particular trial it's been me as ScrumMaster that's been pulling most of the extra hours, getting the project off the ground and underway. Lack of design?.. that's one area in which Scrum excels. In the project we have underway the design has been user tested, prototyped, built and user tested again (in the space of two weeks!). My feeling is that the Scrum approach is no more, or perhaps even less likely, to create problems in the future, than more traditional project management.