Agile Project Execution

Executing is one of the five project management process groups in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) from the Project Management Institute (2004).

Project Execution is where you build the project deliverables and hand them over to your customer, i.e. where you build and deliver the software. This is where most of the project effort is invested. Agile Project Planning says what you intend to do, when, and Agile Monitoring & Control helps you stay on track but Agile Project Execution is where you do the business.
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Agile Roles and Responsibilities

Each of the Agile methods includes defined roles.  Some have more, some have, less.  DSDM is the only one of the methods that makes a big deal of making role responsibilities explicit but I think this is important. To work effectively as a team people need to know what their role is and the roles of their peers. I have often had to coach teams on the demarcation between key roles on the team – typically the leadership roles, i.e. project owner, agile project manager (or scrum master) and technical lead.
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Agile Project Planning

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy

Plans are nothing, but planning is everything

Field Marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke

I believe that Agile Project Management provides certainty of delivery. Planning is what lets us answer the question “When will you be finished?”. Planning is, however, just the start of the process. As Moltke pointed out planning is more important that the plan because once you start the project you’ll find the plan is wrong and you have to adapt. All plans need revisiting and you will have to use Agile Project Control, Agile Change Management, and Agile Risk Management to get the promised certainty of delivery.
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Agile Pre-project

Agile Lifecycle Pre-Project

There are some important questions to be addressed before the start of any project like “Why are we doing this project?” and “Should we do this project?” Project Initiation is the phase where these questions are answered but some work has usually been done before.

Find/Write Project Brief

Projects don’t happen in isolation. The key question during project initiation is “Should we invest more?”, i.e. is the project worth going ahead with?  There must be a reason for the project. The first step during Agile Project Initiation is to find this reason. Often with software development there are just too many choices for what the team could do. A Project Brief can help remove this confusion by pointing the general direction in which the team is meant to head.

The format of a Project Brief document might be a Project Vision, in part of a Product Road Map or a Project Mission Statement but the key thing is knowing why we’re spending this money on this activity.

Marty Cagan of the Silicon Valley Product Group suggests we provide good answers to nine questions to know if we are pursing a good opportunity. The nine questions of the Opportunity Assessment are:

  1. Exactly what problem will this solve? (value proposition)
  2. For whom do we solve that problem? (target market)
  3. How will we measure success? (business metrics)
  4. What alternatives are out there? (competitive landscape)
  5. Why we are best suited to pursue this? (our differentiator)
  6. Why now? (market window)
  7. How will we deploy this? (gentle deployment strategy)
  8. What is the preliminary estimated cost? (small/medium/large)
  9. What factors are critical to success? (solution requirements)

I encourage Product Owners to answer these questions before launching the project proper.

High Fidelity Prototype

The Silicon Valley Product Group recommend a a High Fidelity Prototype rather than using documents to describe the target system.  If the Project Brief gets the go ahead then invest some time in putting together a click through prototype of the system.


Silicon Valley Product Group

Agile Project Scope

According to Wikipedia: Project Management project scope is:

The overall definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish, and a specific description of what the end result should be or accomplish.

We can talk about what is “in-scope”, i.e. what the project is meant to delivery, and what is “out-of-scope”, i.e. what won’t be delivered.

Typically the project scope is a subset of the scope of the product under development.
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Agile Project Initiation

One company I worked with called the start of the project the “Blueprint” as it is about roughly shaping the project and product. “Inception” is another common term for this phase in agile projects. This article outlines traditional project initiation then delves into more detail on Agile Project Initiation.
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