Agile project management
On large projects change WILL happen as things develop, it's inevitable. Here's how to acknowledge that and accommodate this during your web project.
We are moving away from managing large projects using the Waterfall Method. This involves trying to do everything up front, make all the decisions about the project, developing everything and then releasing it all at the end of the project. Waterfall typically follows the following phases:-
Agile – Change on large, complex projects is inevitable
On large projects it’s impossible to know everything upfront. The projects are too large. Change occurs in terms of requirements as the project develops. Typical characteristics of an Agile project:-
- Broken down into iterations that are typically 4-12 weeks long
- Face to face communication is emphasized
- Requirement changes are anticipated and accommodated
- We still need a vision for the end game
- We have a shared and managed schedule
We will go through the Envision stage of an Agile project once. At the end of the Envision stage, we should have a documented project charter describing our scope and overall objectives and our defined stakeholders for the project.
- Create a project charter and scope
- Product vision – target custom, key benefits, purpose of the project
- What resources / people are needed
- Also set up team collaboration tools
- Decide on team norms (ie number of hour per day, stand up meetings at 9am each day, a standard way of dealing with certain issues)
Iteration or sprint (repeated as necessary)
Each iteration then runs through Speculate, Explore, Adapt and Close
Speculate stage is a planning exercise. During the Speculate stage, we will develop or revise the Feature Based Delivery plan, estimates for each feature, and risks you need to manage. One or more features are completed as part of each sprint. At the end of the Speculate stage, we will have a set of requirements for the Sprint and a list of features to be developed based on those requirements.
Activities during the Explore stage include our daily stand-up meetings and frequent and brutally honest peer reviews of the features as they are developed. The reviews come from daily or nearly daily interactions between business and technical personnel and frequent and focus testing. Now that the features for this iteration have been developed, it’s time to pause and reflect. This is the purpose of the Adapt stage. A great benefit of Agile is you get feedback frequently. It’s easy to remember what worked and what did not, fix things quickly and move forward.
Common activities during the Adapt stage include a final review of the features by the customer and a documented meeting of team members to reflect on their performance. From these, lessons are captured and shared, and future sprint plans are reviewed and adjusted. The Adapt stage can happen very quickly, often being completed in just one day. The project will now loop through the Speculate, Explore and Adapt stages until all sprints for the project are completed. Once all the iterations are complete, our features are implemented, the Close stage can occur.
During this stage, you ensure all of your deliverables are completed, and a final set of lessons learned are captured for the project.