Projects at Work

How-To

Best practices, lessons learned and advice from your peers in the trenches.


Are Projects Really ‘Unique’?

- by Dan Patterson, PMP

Have we got the formal definition of a project completely right? A finite start and finish, sure. But approaching each project as a “unique endeavor” can lead us to overlook opportunities to capture, reuse and benefit from prior knowledge, experiences and lessons learned. We need to better connect our closing phases with upfront planning.

Do No Sprint Harm

- by Bart Gerardi

Creating a test sprint or varying the length of a sprint might seem like helpful ideas to address common problems on agile projects, but they should be avoided at all costs. These anti-patterns won’t fix the real underlying issues; in fact, they will probably exacerbate them and weaken your team.

Velocity Is A Plan

- by Bart Gerardi

Velocity is an agile planning tool, not a measure of productivity. Its purpose is to help determine which stories will fit into a sprint, and how many sprints remain until a release is ready or the project is done. Velocity is not about team efficiency or effectiveness, and treating it as a metric to continually improve is another Agile Anti-Pattern.

Pragmatic Accountability

- by Garry Booker

Many project teams experience an occasional lapse in accountability — important work falls through the cracks — and sometimes the problem becomes a crisis. But what exactly is ‘accountability’, and how do we improve it? Here’s a helpful model based on constancy of purpose, aligned actions and discrete outcomes.

Working on Workflow

- by Lisa Earle McLeod

Do you tackle the most critical, high-profile elements of an initiative as early as possible or hold off until you have a better understanding of the end-game? Home improvement projects, Meryl Streep, and book writing offer insights into three common mistakes project managers make when planning workflow.

Agile Anti-Pattern #8: Lucky Dog

- by Bart Gerardi

It can seem like a good idea to add a backup story into a sprint — if works gets blocked or things turn out easier than expected, another story can be pulled into the sprint. However, having more than one story identified, even if not committed, is likely to lead to less work getting done.

A Project by Any Other Name

- by Kathleen Ryan O'Connor

What’s the difference between a “strategic initiative” and a “project”? The question has sparked debate within the project management community. Here, IT strategist Erika Van Noort shares her thoughts on why it matters, and how a change in terms can reframe the mindset of everyone involved, leading to better results.

The Turkey Problem

- by Adriana Beal

Sometimes success breeds failure. When project managers blindly apply old methods to new circumstances, they fall victim to the turkey problem. Assuming stability, they don't adapt new frameworks or solutions when warranted. Here are five ways to combine mastery and originality as you approach your next project.

Write Better User Stories

- by Sondra Ashmore, Kristin Runyan

Writing effective user stories on Agile projects requires collaboration between the product owner and team. The effort involves agreeing on the depth of technical detail in the story, ensuring that epics are appropriately broken down, and adding acceptance criteria. Let’s look at some helpful examples for each step.

Agile Anti-Patterns: #6-7

- by Bart Gerardi

There are many ways that story points are often used incorrectly by well-meaning teams. In the fourth installment of our series, we look at two more agile anti-patterns that seem like good ideas but aren’t: allowing everyone to have a vote, and playing “Go Fish” during planning exercises.

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EVENTS

Serban S: "According to the latest version of the PMBOK, "a project is a temporary endeavor…" on Are Projects Really ‘Unique’?
January 30, 2015

David M: "Dan - I share your frustration about the difficulty of applying lessons from one…" on Are Projects Really ‘Unique’?
January 30, 2015

Drew D: "In response to Dan’s suggestion that projects may not be all that “unique”, four…" on Are Projects Really ‘Unique’?
January 29, 2015

Phil W: "This number one problem we find with our clients is that they start too many ini…" on Working on Workflow
January 29, 2015

 

TOP CONTRIBUTORS

Dave Prior

Agile Consultant, BigVisible Solutions
Dave Prior, PMP, CST, MBA is an Agile Consultant for BigVisible where he…

Bart Gerardi

Sr. Technical Program Manager, Amazon.com
Bart has been an ecommerce program manager for 15 years, and can’t…

Andy Jordan

President, Roffensian Consulting Inc.
Andy Jordan is a well known author and speaker on project management and…

Dan Patterson

CEO/Founder, Acumen
Globally recognized project analytics thought leader and software entrep…

Kathleen O'Connor

I’m a freelance journalist and digital content strategist with 15+…

Aaron Smith

Editorial Director, ProjectsAtWork.com
Aaron has been the editor of ProjectsAtWork since 2001, leading its evol…

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