In this new series, we look at some common problems that Agile teams face, and the common “solutions” that rarely seem to work and often make things worse. Sometimes we need to avoid the well-worn path. Let’s start with the misguided attempt to directly translate story points to effort hours.
The most basic form of requirement in an Agile project is the User Story. It describes an actor, what the actor is trying to do, and the actor’s goals. Each story is unique, but they all should have the same components and adhere to the same guidelines. To make this happen, consider the acronym INVEST.
Metrics are easy to get wrong, and the price tag can be high for projects and stakeholders. Are your organization’s metrics providing value or just getting in the way of your team? Here are nine criteria for determining if your current metrics should be tweaked or removed, and if new ones would be more useful.
Melanie Franklin’s new book presents an agile framework for planning and implementing change. She says Agile doesn’t just welcome change, it actively seeks it out. Here, she discusses what that means for project leaders, including the often overlooked importance of psychology, relationship-building and self-awareness in managing change. [24:20]
In a follow-up to an article on backlog grooming, we answer reader questions about how the process differs from requirements documentation; how prioritization works without a complete picture; how a backlog differs from a work breakdown structure; and how to achieve an “all-in” view of product features when the backlog is a work in progress.
Middle managers are often seen as one of the biggest roadblocks to Agile team success. Here, agile transformation coach Chris Matts discusses the important organizational role they can play in mitigating risk and supporting decision-making processes like “feature injection” to deliver business value. [23:50]
Can you formalize your processes and still maintain an Agile culture? More specifically, can Agile principles coexist alongside a Capability Maturity Model Integration program? Here is how once organization has embraced both its CMMI journey and Agile ways to achieve new levels of success.
The process of refining requirements to the point that they are ready to be worked upon is known as ‘backlog grooming.’ But this task accomplishes more than clarifying requirements; it informs stakeholders, contributes to the project plan, and reinforces Agile principles in general. Here’s guidance on how and when it should be done.
Agile transformations tend to focus on teaching team members new approaches and behaviors, neglecting to address how managers must also change. But even with self-organizing teams, managers have a crucial role to play and need some guidance to do it right, says Ron Lichty, technology leader and author of Managing the Unmanageable. [23:47]
The higher levels of an organization often struggle to keep track of the work they direct. A different set of obligations keeps them out of the day-to-day work and challenges project teams face. When adopting Agile, this gap can become even larger due to a separation of leadership values from team values.