Whether you are a project manager or a scrum master, if you are leading an agile project, there are some critical things to keep in mind. Some of these we have covered in past articles and some of them are new. Here are seven tips for agile project managers. Repetition helps to build retention, so even if these seem old, think of them as new :)
- Respect client deliverables. For agile projects, the client is not just the organization providing your paycheck - the client is an integral part of the project team. Typically someone from the client organization assumes the role of product owner. As we discussed in 4 Ways to Respect Your Client Deliverables, be sure to respect their time, respect their wishes for product development, assess risks and report results to them, and deliver a quality project.
- Be careful of waste. Agile projects can have a great deal of waste, resulting from unnecessary hand offs to overly complex solutions hindered by red tape. Be sure to see our past article, 10 Forms of Agile Waste to Avoid for more details of the types of waste often present in agile projects.
- Make all meetings GREAT. GREAT meetings have Goals. They bring a group of people together to solve problems, not just chat or pat themselves on the back. To solve problems requires the Right people - those that are familiar with the problems and may have ideas about potential solutions. GREAT meetings need to be Effective so they can achieve their goals. This usually means they should have an Agenda and follow it. And perhaps most important, they should not be endless, but Time-bound to create the right sense of urgency. For more information, see our past article, Take Your Meetings from Good to GREAT.
- Don't neglect risk management. Regardless of your organization, industry, or project, including at least a short, GREAT meeting to examine and analyze potential risks is important. While risk management has no guarantees of finding and stopping all risks, risk do have a positive side (aka opportunities) worth considering. Plus since you cannot identify all risks, the meeting will enable you to potentially handle risks not previously identified, when they happen. To be proactive as possible, you may want to re-read our past article, 5 Tips for Improved Risk Management. These tips are applicable to all types of projects.
- Follow standard processes (and start new as necessary). More than a decade of project management research has shown that organizations that develop and follow standard processes are more successful. To avoid re-inventing the wheel, be sure to research and identify the processes already in play in your organization. And most important, if there is some new work which does not have a standard process, take the lead in creating the "first draft" of a new one; then improve on it with each project you manage. Be sure to check out 5 Steps to Improve Project Management Maturity for more ideas.
- Picture are worth 1,000 words. Agile values delivery of customer value over documentation, so be sure you are onboard. As they say, a picture can be worth 1,000 words. Agile requirements need to be "lighter" in the form of the user stories in product backlogs, plus process diagrams and other pictorial forms of documentation. Make a conscious effort to use more visual requirements as you manage agile projects.
- Plan for critical resources. Agile projects do not look at schedules from the same Critical Path Method as more traditional projects. Instead, sprints are mapped out to provide a roadmap for the delivery of customer value. But in both types of projects, resource availability can be an issue. You may want to consider annotating roadmaps with any necessary expertise and other critical resources to remember to appropriately manage their availability. As you move forward with your agile project, be sure to check out 5 Tips to Avoid Common Scheduling Issues for more advice.
As you continue your project management work, please check out 5 Tips to Improve Your Agile Project Management for more ideas! Combined with these tips, they are your recipe for success with agile projects.
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