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INFOGRAPHIC : The Power of Planning and Estimating in Agile

Estimating and planning is an important aspect of the Agile methodology. Every plan will help in building a platform to develop a project and estimation will help in filling the gap and remove the hindrances in the software development process. The Agile Methodology roughly provides an idea of how a project manager can plan and estimate to make project success. Estimating and planning are the two factors which influence the outcome of any project.Agile planning is all about measuring the speed at which a team can turn user stories into functional production-ready software. Estimating and planning are critical for the success of a software development project. It may involve various challenges due to estimation done by the wrong person which leads to mismatch in the process. It is a waste, if a team works without any specific requirement, and moreover if the tasks are not assigned properly, it may result in excess time and efforts.Agile planning bears a great significance when compared to Non-Agile planning.The step-by-step actions are taken through the user stories, whereas in case of Non-Agile planning, the focus is more on the problem. Often a question arises as to how one should implement Scrum for a large-scaled software development. It can be through 5 levels of Agile planning because they render flexibility on how you and the organization want to implement planning, based on teams, environment, and culture. The planning levels start with product vision which includes product owner taking care of the entire product right from the beginning with respect to the product structure as well. Product roadmap planning, which focuses on implementing the product involves product manager and the product owner. The next step is release planning where the project manager and his team involves and delivers the releasable product.Coming to Iteration Planning, it is basically an event where all team members determine how much of the team backlog they can commit to deliver during an upcoming Iteration and the entire work slots are determined. The team summarizes the work as a set of committed iteration goals. The end stage is the daily commitment planning where the team discusses the progress of the project and updates are given.Agile planning life cycle includes involvement of stakeholders, updating the status of the project and checking through what has to be improved for the further action and later improvements through Build-Measure-Learn cycle.The last phase deals with the Estimation step wherein the project expert’s opinions are taken into consideration for the development of the project growth, and breaking the bigger tasks into smaller units which helps in understanding the requirements better. Later, estimation is done through Retrospectives. This involves looking back at events that took place, or works that were produced, and at the end delivers a high quality software.Planning and Estimation is hard, estimates can be made as accurate as possible through a proper collaboration with the Product Owner.In summary, Agile estimation is a team sport where the team members-Estimate smarter not harderLearn from past experience.Only a right planning and estimation delivers the best product.
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INFOGRAPHIC : The Power of Planning and Estimating in Agile

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Estimating and planning is an important aspect of the Agile methodology. Every plan will help in building a platform to develop a project and estimation will help in filling the gap and remove the hindrances in the software development process. The Agile Methodology roughly provides an idea of how a project manager can plan and estimate to make project success. Estimating and planning are the two factors which influence the outcome of any project.

Agile planning is all about measuring the speed at which a team can turn user stories into functional production-ready software. Estimating and planning are critical for the success of a software development project. It may involve various challenges due to estimation done by the wrong person which leads to mismatch in the process. It is a waste, if a team works without any specific requirement, and moreover if the tasks are not assigned properly, it may result in excess time and efforts.

Agile planning bears a great significance when compared to Non-Agile planning.The step-by-step actions are taken through the user stories, whereas in case of Non-Agile planning, the focus is more on the problem. Often a question arises as to how one should implement Scrum for a large-scaled software development. It can be through 5 levels of Agile planning because they render flexibility on how you and the organization want to implement planning, based on teams, environment, and culture. The planning levels start with product vision which includes product owner taking care of the entire product right from the beginning with respect to the product structure as well. Product roadmap planning, which focuses on implementing the product involves product manager and the product owner. The next step is release planning where the project manager and his team involves and delivers the releasable product.

Coming to Iteration Planning, it is basically an event where all team members determine how much of the team backlog they can commit to deliver during an upcoming Iteration and the entire work slots are determined. The team summarizes the work as a set of committed iteration goals. The end stage is the daily commitment planning where the team discusses the progress of the project and updates are given.

Agile planning life cycle includes involvement of stakeholders, updating the status of the project and checking through what has to be improved for the further action and later improvements through Build-Measure-Learn cycle.

The last phase deals with the Estimation step wherein the project expert’s opinions are taken into consideration for the development of the project growth, and breaking the bigger tasks into smaller units which helps in understanding the requirements better. Later, estimation is done through Retrospectives. This involves looking back at events that took place, or works that were produced, and at the end delivers a high quality software.

Planning and Estimation is hard, estimates can be made as accurate as possible through a proper collaboration with the Product Owner.

In summary, Agile estimation is a team sport where the team members-

  • Estimate smarter not harder
  • Learn from past experience.

Only a right planning and estimation delivers the best product.

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The Role Of a Project Manager in an Agile Environment

Let us first understand the Project Manager’s role in a traditional/waterfall environment. The PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide - 4th Edition states that a Project Manager is known to be responsible for successful implementation of a project through the five stages/processes of a project lifecycle: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing the project – see figure 1. Included in these phases is identifying requirements, management of stakeholders and balancing the competing project constraints arising during the project. The project constraints include the: Scope, Quality, Schedule, Budget, Resources, and Risk An effective Project Manager is required to be knowledgeable about Project Management, apply this project management knowledge in order to drive their performance and that of their team, and have positive personal attitude as it will be spread out to the project team. These are key characteristics of an effective Project Manager. The Role of the Project Manager in an Agile Business https://t.co/NNVUV0lT4C via @BrightTALK #projectmanagement #agile pic.twitter.com/DdMBYMIq2A — Capterra Project (@CapterraPM) March 1, 2017 PRINCE2 (PRojects IN a Controlled Environment version 2) is another waterfall methodology and states that the project management project lifecycle and processes are: starting a project, initiating a project, directing a project, managing a stage boundary, controlling a stage, managing product delivery and closing a project – see figure 2. A Project Manager is responsible for ensuring that the team performs and delivers the product accordingly as initially defined with Management ( the Project Board). The Project Manager also ensures that there is clear requirements communication between the project board and the project team to ensure quality delivery. The Agile methodology seems to be emerging very fast with most organisations requiring to do away with waterfall and utilize Agile rather. For some organisations, Agile has proven to work well in the sense that implementation happens timeously in small chunks of releases instead of a big-bang implementation that has a high probability of failure if other detailed risks and issues are missed. The stages of Agile product development life cycle include: requirements gathering, planning, design, development, release, and track and monitoring. Agile aims at releasing small chunks of the full product in sprints (popularly defined in a two week period) rather than a big bang full release. The cycle is iterated until the full product is developed and released. I have worked in a fully waterfall environment, as well as waterfall but being so-called Agile, and I am currently working in a seemingly fully Agile environment. There are different roles in this fully Agile environment of which they include: Project Manager, Product Manager, Product Owner, Scrum Master, and others. These roles are a combination of waterfall and Agile roles although we call ourselves fully Agile. We – as a team call our environment fully Agile, absorbing this information from our organisation’s Senior Management, who manage appointment of these roles.  A Project Manager works very closely with top management for strategic decision making. A Project Manager still maintains the role of being the sole responsible person for successful implementation of the quality defined product, and also supports the team throughout the iterations and shield them from distractions. Although there are different frameworks in Agile, the roles within Agile do not differ much, for example, the role of a Scrum Master. A Scrum Master works very closely with the Project Manager to close the communication gap between the project team and top management. A Project Manager manages project/product risks while the Scrum Master manages the team’s performance and impediments. In waterfall, a Project manager works very closely with the delivery team while in Agile, the Project Manager works with the team indirectly – managing team communication through the Scrum Master. Although the Project Manager is responsible for successful release of a quality product, the Scrum Master is the one that manages the delivery of this quality product while working with the delivery team, since the Project Manager does not communicate directly with the delivery team. The Project Manager manages time delivery more than quality. The Scrum Master manages quality delivery of the product. The Scrum Master also manages impediments as well as the development/delivery team while the Project Manager manages risks and address them with strategic management.  Then the question arises, do we still need Project Managers in Agile? Although there is no Project Manager role in any Agile methodology, in real work life environments, we still have Project Managers. To differentiate the two roles, both are responsible for delivery of a quality product. However, a Project Manager works strategically with the management team (project sponsor, project owner/requestor, etc.) to define the product’s epics, while the Scrum Master receives management defined epics from the Project Manager and work with the delivery/development team to break-down the epics into features, stories and tasks. A Scrum Master also manages impediments from at development team level and resolve what is possible in his capability. Impediments that are rated high are now channelled to a Project Manager to be managed strategically by the management team.   Although organisations that are going Agile see a need to diminish Project Managers’ roles in their organisation, it will be challenging as there is also still a need to understand roles like Product Manager – which is a strategic role as well and might at times overlap with the Project Manager role, if they work together in a team to deliver the same product. Are Project Managers still required in Agile? According to my opinion and how things are working out in my organisation, my answer is actually yes! Project Managers are still required and must work closely with the Product Managers and Scrum Masters. Although there can be a confusion which can cause conflict of responsibilities between a Project Manager and Scrum Master at times. Figure 3 illustrates clarity of the Project Manager and Scrum Master roles.
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The Role Of a Project Manager in an Agile Environm...

Let us first understand the Project Manager’s ro... Read More

Top 5 Agile Trends To Take You Safe Through 2018 And Beyond

In recent times, Agile has proved to be more than just a buzzword in the IT industry.The amazing results of Agile project management have widened its scope for implementation in other than IT industry also; therefore, we often come across the terms like “being Agile” and “doing Agile”.More and more organizations and enterprises irrespective of size and business niche are adopting Agile with an eye on commitment, delivery values, profitability, customer’s satisfaction etc. Because of continuous Agile evolvement, you need to align Agile practices with the latest trends to compete with excellence in 2018 and beyond. Following are the top five Agile trends that will help you plan and sail safe through the competitive marketing environment.  1) Short-Term Activities Oriented Agile Training:Organizing the short-term activities oriented intensive workshop/training, planned to train the participants for implementation of specific skill in real projects, is a new emerging trend in Agile organizations. The long and exhaustive classroom training of 4 or 5 days are no longer a preference. The short–term Agile workshops/training leave the Agile team members with new ideas and cohesive understanding of the Agile roadmap. The improved capability to execute short iterations supports to market the product early. In addition, Agile workshops are helping the organizations to develop multi-disciplinary Agile specialists to maximize overall performance.2) Rapid Feedback:Predictions are good to plan but the ever-changing working conditions, new demands, and altered quality standards etc deviate the results. The biggest trend in Agile management for 2018, I noticed recently, is to focus more on rapid feedbacks of developments rather than depending on the predicted outcome. Rapid feedback is vital for Agile teams to understand the way project development is going. Creating a friendly environment allowing every team member to comment and even seek the feedback saves considerable time besides giving a true picture of progress. Continuous Integration (CI) is the best tool to maximize the benefits of rapid feedback.3. Embracing Agile Spirit:  Over the years, a number of organizations twisted & curled Agile methodology to meet their interests and suitability; as a result, some of these tasted just the semi-success. The new trend shows that organizations are embracing the Agile spirit as a part of organizational culture. 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