Projects at Work

How-To

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


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.

It’s All In the Details

- by Sondra Ashmore, Kristin Runyan

In agile projects, most requirements start out as epics, which are too big to be addressed in a single sprint. Let’s look at some examples of how epics are broken down into manageable stories through team and user collaboration, and how acceptance criteria add important details.

What's Your Story?

- by Sondra Ashmore, Kristin Runyan

Requirements in Agile environments are handled very differently than in projects following linear processes. In Scrum, requirements are collected and shared through user stories, which have a precise format that invites conversation and collaboration. Here are some examples and guidelines for writing effective user stories.

Agile Anti-Patterns: #4-5

- by Bart Gerardi

Using story points for estimation seems simple enough, but many teams fall back on old habits without realizing that they are misusing one of the key innovations of the Agile methodology. In the third installment of our series, we look at two more agile anti-patterns: conflating story points with story value, and relying on an anchor story.

Who Cares About Tasks?

- by Dan Patterson

Wouldn't it be better if scheduling tools focused on deliverables rather than the work — the activities and tasks — needed to deliver them? Execution is about creating value, and stakeholders care little about the busy details. Project managers who get this distinction right will reap the benefits of more realistic and achievable plans.

Estimate Before, During, After

- by Lawrence Putnam Jr

A common misperception is that an estimator’s job is done after a project’s parameters are set. On the contrary, estimation should be conducted throughout the project lifecycle to reflect inevitable changes and to improve estimates on other projects. Here are three ways to maximize estimating efforts — before, during and after your project is complete.

More Agile Anti-Patterns

- by Bart Gerardi

Story points are one of the most misunderstood and misused aspects of the Agile methodology. In the second installment of our series on Agile Anti-Patterns, we look at two more ways that story points can be used incorrectly, making the team both less agile and more frustrated in the process.

Don’t Shoehorn Your Projects

- by Ken Rock

The best process for your project should be determined by careful consideration of key factors, including overall complexity, the level of risk involved, and time-to-market requirements. Often, a flexible hybrid approach fits best, but it must agreed upon by management and the team before the project starts.

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Kairo C: "Loved your article!" on The Learning Curve
November 24, 2014

Adriana B: "Thank you, Ashok, Ken, and Carmen for taking the time to comment! @Ken: good …" on The Turkey Problem
November 24, 2014

David T: "I agree with 100% of the content, but there is a disturbing under-tone, especial…" on Always On the Clock
November 23, 2014

Kairo C: "This is a great article with great insights into the new PM market niche. Thank…" on Help Wanted: Digital PM
November 21, 2014

 

TOP CONTRIBUTORS

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…

Dave Prior

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

Dan Patterson

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

Janis Rizzuto

Contributing Editor, ProjectsAtWork
Janis has been writing for ProjectsAtWork for more than a decade, starti…

Aaron Smith

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

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