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The Project Manager's Guide to Mastering Agile: Principles and Practices for an Adaptive Approach



The Project Manager's Guide to Mastering Agile: Principles and Practices for an Adaptive Approach

Charles G. Cobb

ISBN: 978-1-118-99104-6 January 2015 432 Pages


Streamline project workflow with expert agile implementation

The Project Management Profession is beginning to go through rapid and profound transformation due to the widespread adoption of agile methodologies. Those changes are likely to dramatically change the role of project managers in many environments as we have known them and raise the bar for the entire project management profession; however, we are in the early stages of that transformation and there is a lot of confusion about the impact it has on project managers:

  • There are many stereotypes and misconceptions that exist about both Agile and traditional plan-driven project management,
  • Agile and traditional project management principles and practices are treated as separate and independent domains of knowledge with little or no integration between the two and sometimes seen as in conflict with each other
  • Agile and "Waterfall" are thought of as two binary, mutually-exclusive choices and companies sometimes try to force-fit their business and projects to one of those extremes when the right solution is to fit the approach to the project

It’s no wonder that many Project Managers might be confused by all of this!  This book will help project managers unravel a lot of the confusion that exists; develop a totally new perspective to see Agile and traditional plan-driven project management principles and practices in a new light as complementary to each other rather than competitive; and learn to develop an adaptive approach to blend those principles and practices together in the right proportions to fit any situation.

There are many books on Agile and many books on traditional project management but what’s very unique about this book is that it takes an objective approach to help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of both of those areas to see how they can work synergistically to improve project outcomes in any project.  The book includes discussion topics, real world case studies, and sample enterprise-level agile frameworks that facilitate hands-on learning as well as an in-depth discussion of the principles behind both Agile and traditional plan-driven project management practices to provide a more thorough level of understanding.




1 Introduction to Agile Project Management 1

The Chasm in Project Management Philosophies 2

The Evolution of Agile and Waterfall 3

Definition of waterfall 4

Definition of agile 4

Comparison of plan-driven and adaptive approaches 5

The Evolution of the Project Management Profession 7

The early history of project management 7

Transformation of the project management profession 8

What’s driving this change, and why now? 9

Agile Project Management Benefits 11

Summary of Key Points 13

Discussion Topics 14

Part 1 Fundamentals of Agile

2 Agile History and the Agile Manifesto 17

Agile Early History 17

Dr. Winston Royce and the Waterfall model (1970) 18

Early iterative and incremental development methods (early 1970s) 19

Further evolution of iterative and incremental development (mid- to late 1970s) 20

Early agile development methods (1980s and 1990s) 20

Agile Manifesto (2001) 21

Agile Manifesto values 22

Agile Manifesto principles 24

Summary of Key Points 30

Discussion Topics 31

3 Scrum Overview 33

Scrum Roles 34

Product owner role 35

Scrum Master role 36

Team role 38

Scrum framework 39

Sprint planning 41

Daily standup 42

Sprint review 42

Sprint retrospective 43

General Scrum/Agile Principles 44

Variability and uncertainty 44

Prediction and adaptation 45

Validated learning 46

Work in progress 47

Progress 48

Performance 49

Scrum Values 51

Commitment and focus 51

Openness 52

Respect 53

Courage 54

Summary of Key Points 55

Discussion Topics 55

4 Agile Planning, Requirements, and Product Backlog 57

Agile Planning Practices 57

Rolling-wave planning 57

Planning strategies 58

Spikes 59

Progressive elaboration 60

Value-based functional decomposition 61

Agile Requirements Practices 61

The role of a business analyst in an agile project 61

“Just barely good enough” 63

Differentiating wants from needs and the “five whys” 63

MoSCoW technique 64

User Personas and Stories 64

User personas 64

User stories 65

Epics 67

Product Backlog 68

What is a product backlog? 68

Product backlog grooming 68

Summary of Key Points 70

Discussion Topics 71

5 Agile Development, Quality, and Testing Practices 73

Agile Software Development Practices 73

Code refactoring 74

Continuous integration 75

Pair programming 75

Test-driven development 76

Extreme programming (XP) 77

Agile Quality Management Practices 78

Key differences in agile quality management practices 78

Definition of “done” 78

The role of QA testing in an agile project 79

Agile Testing Practices 80

Concurrent testing 80

Acceptance test driven development 80

Repeatable tests and automated regression testing 81

Value-driven and risk-based testing 81

Summary of Key Points 81

Discussion Topics 83

Part 2 Agile Project Management

6 Time-Boxing, Kanban, and Theory of Constraints 87

The Importance of Flow 89

Time-Boxing 90

Time-boxing advantages 90

Additional time-boxing productivity advantages 90

Kanban Process 91

Push and pull processes 91

What is a Kanban process? 92

Differences between Scrum and Kanban 93

Work-in-process limits in Kanban 94

Kanban boards 95

Theory of Constraints 96

Summary of Key Points 98

Discussion Topics 99

7 Agile Estimation 101

Agile Estimation Overview 101

What’s different about agile estimation? 101

Developing an estimation strategy 103

Management of uncertainty 103

Agile Estimation Practices 104

Levels of estimation 104

What is a story point? 106

How are story points used? 107

What is planning poker? 108

Velocity and Burn-Down/Burn-Up Charts 109

Velocity 109

Burn-down charts 110

Burn-up charts 111

Summary of Key Points 112

Discussion Topics 113

8 Agile Project Management Role 115

Agile Project Management Shifts in Thinking 117

Emphasis on maximizing value versus control 117

Emphasis on empowerment and self-organization 119

Limited emphasis on documentation 120

Managing flow instead of structure 121

Potential Agile Project Management Roles 121

Making agile work at a team level 121

Hybrid agile project role 123

Enterprise-level implementation 124

Using agile concepts in non–agile projects 127

Agile and PMBOK® 127

The difference between explicit and tacit knowledge 127

Relationship to traditional project management functions 129

Summary of Key Points 137

Discussion Topics 138

9 Agile Communications and Tools 139

Agile Communications Practices 139

Information radiators 139

Face-to-face communications 141

Daily standups 142

Distributed teams 142

Agile Project Management Tools 143

Benefits of agile project management tools 144

Characteristics of enterprise level agile project management tools 145

Summary of Key Points 148

Discussion Topics 149

10 Version One Tool Overview 151

Product/Project Planning 151

Product backlog management 153

Manage business initiatives with epics 155

Group your work items by feature groups or themes 155

Deliver according to business goals 156

Release and Sprint Planning 157

Release planning/sprint planning capabilities 158

Sprint detail planning 158

Sprint Tracking 160

Kanban boards 161

Burn-down charts 162

Summary of Key Points 163

Discussion Topics 163

11 Understanding Agile at a Deeper Level 165

Systems Thinking 165

Influence of Total Quality Management (TQM) 167

Cease dependence on inspection 168

Emphasis on the human aspect of quality 170

The need for cross-functional collaboration and transformation 171

Importance of leadership 173

Ongoing continuous improvement 173

Influence of Lean Manufacturing 174

Customer value 177

Map the value stream 177

Pull 178

Flow 182

Respect for people 186

Perfection 187

Principles of Product Development Flow 187

Summary of Key Points 189

Discussion Topics 191

Part 3 Making Agile Work for a Business

12 Scaling Agile to an Enterprise Level 195

Enterprise-Level Agile Challenges 196

Differences in practices 196

Reinterpreting agile manifesto values and principles 197

Enterprise-Level Obstacles to Overcome 199

Collaborative and cross-functional approach 199

Organizational commitment 199

Risk and regulatory constraints 200

Enterprise-Level Implementation Considerations 200

Architectural planning and direction 200

Enterprise-level requirements definition and management 201

Release to production 203

Enterprise-Level Management Practices 204

Scrum-of-scrums approach 204

Project/program management approach 207

The role of a project management office (PMO) 207

Project/product portfolio management 209

Summary of Key Points 210

Discussion Topics 211

13 Adapting an Agile Approach to Fit a Business 213

The Impact of Different Business Environments on Agile 213

Product-oriented companies 214

Technology-enabled businesses 215

Project-oriented businesses 215

Hybrid business model 216

Adapting an agile approach to a business 217

Typical Levels of Management 218

Overall business management level 218

Enterprise product/project portfolio management level 221

Product management level 223

Project management level 223

Corporate Culture and Values 224

The importance of corporate culture and values 224

Value disciplines 226

Summary of Key Points 230

Discussion Topics 231

14 Enterprise-Level Agile Transformations 233

Planning an Agile Transformation 233

Define the goals you want to achieve 233

Becoming agile is a journey, not a destination 234

Develop a culture that is conducive to agile 235

Manage change 237

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater 240

Tools can be very important 241

Adaptive Project Governance Model 242

Executive steering group 244

Project governance group 244

Working group forums 244

Project teams 245

Summary of Key Points 245

Discussion Topics 246

Part 4 Enterprise-Level Agile Frameworks

15 Scaled Agile Framework 251

Team Level 253

Program Level 253

Portfolio Level 253

Program Portfolio Management 254

16 Managed Agile Development Framework 259

Managed Agile Development Overview 260

Macro-level 261

Micro-level 261

Objectives of Managed Agile Development 261

Plan-driven benefits 261

Agile benefits 262

Key differences from a typical waterfall approach 262

Framework Description 264

Project organization and work streams 264

High-level process overview 265

Requirements management approach 270

Project Scheduling Approach 272

Project management approach 273

Communications approach 274

Roles and Responsibilities 275

17 Disciplined Agile Delivery Framework 279

Summary of Enterprise-Level Frameworks 286

Part 5 Case Studies

18 “Not-So-Successful” Case Studies 289

Company A 290

Background 290

The approach 290

What went wrong 290

Overall conclusions 290

Company B 292

Background 292

The approach 293

What went wrong 293

Overall conclusions 294

Company C 297

Background 297

The approach 297

What went wrong 297

Overall conclusions 297

19 Case Study—Valpak 303

Background 303

Overview 305

Architectural Kanban 306

Portfolio Kanban 309

Project Management Approach 311

Tools, communication, and reporting 312

Challenges 313

Cultural and organizational challenges 313

Technical challenges 316

Other challenges 316

Key Success Factors 320

Top-down support coupled with bottom-up drive 320

Hiring an independent coach 320

Continued support each and every day 321

Senior management engagement/business ownership 321

Results and Conclusions 322

Lessons Learned 324

Forming projects around teams 324

Planning team capacity and developing a sustainable pace 324

Using sprint reviews and “science fairs” 325

20 Case Study—Harvard Pilgrim Health Care 327

Background 327

Overview 328

Impact of outsourcing and vendor partnering 330

Role of the PMO 331

Project governance 332

Role of tools 334

Project methodology mix 335

Project portfolio management 335

Project Management Approach 336

Project methodology 336

Implementation package development 337

Implementation package refinement 338

Project reporting 338

Contractual relationship with Dell Services 340

Challenges 340

Cultural and organizational challenges 340

Contractual challenges 340

Technical challenges 341

Other challenges 341

Key Success Factors 341

Conclusions 349

Lessons Learned 350

Enormous culture shift 350

Adapting the methodology to fit the business 350

Release management 350

Assigning projects to teams 351

Architectural Design Planning 351

Estimating project schedules 351

QA testing 351

CIO retrospective 352

21 Case Study—General Dynamics UK 355

Background 355

Overview 356

Requirements prioritization and management approach 356

Contract negotiation and payment terms 358

Planning approach 358

Personnel management 359

Communication 359

Management and leadership approach 360

Project Management Approach 360

DSDM overview 361

DSDM principles 362

Challenges 363

Cultural and organizational challenges 363

Contractual challenges 363

Technical challenges 363

Key Success Factors 365

Conclusions 366

Lessons Learned 367

22 Overall Summary 369


Appendix A Additional Reading 375

Appendix B Glossary of Terms 377

Appendix C Example Project/Program Charter Template 387

Appendix D Suggested Course Outline 393

Index 399