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A Guide to Agile Project Management

written by: Michael Kirkham-Jones • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 9/10/2011

Ever needed a quick reference to Agile? About to embark on your first Agile project? Whatever your needs you’ll find this guide to Agile project management perfect for adding to your favorite bookmarks. With a plethora of expertise, discussion, examples and tips, it is the ideal reference tool.

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    Collection of Resources

    Cooperation Team This guide pulls together many articles that can prove invaluable to anyone getting involved in an Agile based project delivery. Whether you are new to the methodology or a seasoned hack, this will be invaluable as a source of reference and is a "must have" within your collection of go-to references.

    Taking you through the initial understanding and overview of Agile, into planning and using the Agile techniques and principles, I have pulled together some of the vast array of articles that I feel are best supportive to the project management process.

    I will endeavor to maintain this guide and add/change article references when new content appears, even more reason to bookmark this page.

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    The Agile Family History?

    Mention Agile to some and immediately they think of dexterity, exercise and physical fitness. Although not strictly true in that it does not relate to our own personal abilities, it does describe an approach to project management. We look at the roots of Agile, how it grew from humble desires into a solid and strategic set of methods and a clear manifesto.

    Iterative or Waterfall, Which Is Best? There's Only One Way to Find Out...

    ... FIGHT!!! Well, not really, but there have often been very heated discussions from both camps, each stating that their approach is the one and only way. There are good arguments from both sides and both approaches deliver the project but choosing which to use and when is fundamental in your decision-making process. The author takes a balanced approach to both project management methods and sets out to convey a reasoned conclusion.

    Does Agile Mean That I Don't Need to Document?

    I remember when, as a development manager in the 1990s, I heard of a new approach to developing software solutions that did not involve any documentation, I rubbed my hands in glee. I was naive, to say the least. Agile does not remove requirements gathering and design but moves the emphasis from up-front, all out definition, to an embryonic and growing set of stories. This treatment delves into this living and breathing tool set that is used to gather a projects requirements.

    User Stories

    What is a user story? It definitely is not a UML Use Case but a very easy to build and measurable set of user requirements that are set out in the form of a simple sentences. You might be surprised how such a simplistic component can play a pivotal role in the whole Agile project management process.

    The Product Backlog

    If you are looking for a user requirements list, then this is the artifact that you want to see. Mainly used within Scrum but I use it as a key artifact within all my Agile projects. What it contains and how it is used will influence the success of your project. What is in it? Who owns it? How do you measure and prioritize it?

    When Is a Task Really "Done?"

    Whether you are planning an Agile iteration or a Scrum sprint, one of the most, if not the most, important measure to define up front is what the project's definition of "done" is. Is it when all the customer requirements are met? It may be "done" when it has passed quality and testing. Without this definition in place, it will becoming increasingly more difficult to measure and plan for project success.

    How Long Should an Iteration or Sprint Be?

    I have been brought into companies and sat in on project meetings where the whole session has been spent on discussing how long the iterations should be. There was one company who had started development, written plans and had never even thought through how long each sprint (it was a Scrum project) should be. This decision is very important as part of planning and the process of deciding the length is clarified and presented succinctly here.

    Project Planning

    How do you plan something that is not stable and changes after every iteration? Is it possible to plan an Agile project? We take a look at release planning and iteration planning—and how to prioritize and estimate user stories.

    Learning and Improving Team Performance

    One of the fundamental principles of Agile is not only delivering but improving how, what and who delivers the end product. The Iteration Retrospective is a meeting planned after every iteration has completed to discuss what was good and bad during the iteration—and what lessons can be learned and implemented in the next iteration.

    Extreme Programming - XP

    Extreme Programming is a discipline of software development based on values of simplicity, communication, feedback and courage. It brings a team together by following simple practices enabling quick responses and directed effort. This overview highlights how, through using XP, you can provide the highest value to the customer in the fastest way possible.

    Scrum

    To start, Scrum is not an acronym. One of the originators happened to have had all the letters in capitals in one of his presentations and theorists have speculated ever since. The word Scrum comes from the game of rugby where the game is restarted after an infringement or the ball going out of play by the forwards of both teams forming a "scrummage" to get the ball back into play. Scrum is certainly one of the most popular methodologies used today and with its genealogy firmly in the Agile arena, it has been proven to deliver.

    Tools for Managing Agile Projects

    Are there any tools out there that will help you manage an Agile project? As a project manager or Scrum master, we like to be in control with information at our fingertips when stakeholders or senior management require it. There are tools available to allow us to have this control and to provide the whole team with access.

    Scrum Project Planning Templates and Samples

    Why reinvent the wheel when there is already a template out on the web that can do the job? We have trawled the Internet for you to compile a set of templates to help you manage Agile projects.

    Top Ten Agile Development Problems

    I have never said that life will be easy when using Agile and neither has anybody else. There will be the down times as well as the ups when you feel that the whole world is ganging up against you. We hope to share these problems, helping you realize that you are not on your own, we have all gone through it—and we can help identify how to avoid and fix these common issues.

References