You Need More Process and Tools

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processEven in an environment where you have a single, ideal, co-located cross-functional team, I believe you’re going to need processes and tools. The more complex and distributed your organization, the more processes and tools you’re going to need. Doesn’t sound very agile does it? Well, get over it. You’re going to need processes and tools to enable individuals and interactions. If you can’t sit in your chair and make direct eye contact with everyone on your team, you need more processes and tools. Hell, even if you can see everyone, you’ll still need processes and tools. What is Scrum? A process framework. What is a team board? A communications tool.

Context

I’m not dismissing the Agile Manifesto. I do prefer individual and interactions over processes and tools. I’m just trying to establish some context. Most of us don’t work in that ideal agile world. Rather, we have to operate within a series of non-ideal organizational constraints. Most people are sold on the idea of Agile. The values and principles resonate with us. But my job (and LeadingAgile) is to understand the goals of an organization and help them reach them.  We start by laying the foundation for an agile enterprise by forming teams and installing a Lean/Kanban based governance model, but maintaining focus on longer term planning, risk management, and dependency management.

Current State

Before laying the foundation, I look at their current organizational structure, I look at their current governance (processes) and I look at their current metrics to see how good that structure and governance is working out for them.

Future State with Process and Tools

Whatever the future state looks like, I expect two things to help get us there.

1. We need to provide clarity by making process policies explicit.
2. We need to demonstrate incremental improvements by using tools.

Do you agree with me? Maybe you disagree with me. I’d love to read your feedback.


Image Credit: Pictofigo

Categories: Agile, Project Management Tags: Tags: ,

TDD – Tool Driven Development

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In order to realize the greatest benefits in application development, it is recommended that you use good engineering practices.  Those practices include continuous integration, paired programming and TDD (Test Driven Development).  Unfortunately, when arriving at a new coaching engagement, it is common that a tool vendor has arrived on the scene before the Agile (engineering and process) coaches.  Just as many are sold on Agile being a silver bullet, I find people are equally sold on the idea that a tool can solve all of their problems.

Are clients wrong to assume an enterprise “Agile” tool can transition them away from a “Waterfall” tool?  I’m sure that is what the tool vendor told them.  Though I would agree some of the leading providers do offer more lightweight solutions, the truth is some people (after the sale) get frustrated when they realize their tools need to be customized, to align with their business processes.  Unfortunately, I have seen that customization not happen.  Instead, customers struggle with the tools they have implemented.  They change their development and delivery process so they can use the tools.  They start to practice TDD (Tool Driven Development).

When I show customers they can accomplish what they need with index cards, painters tape, and Sharpies, the next question is how can they modify the tool to align with reality.

Always remember the first value of the Manifesto: Individuals and interactions over process and tools.  Fix your processes first.  Then, and only then, should you look to a tool for efficiencies.

Image Source: Pictofigo

Categories: Agile, Project Management Tags: Tags: , ,

LeanKit Kanban

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LeanKit KanbanWhen the Agile Manifesto for Agile Software Development was written 10 years ago, it stated “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.”

The very first of four values listed within the Manifesto was “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”

The Manifesto goes on to state “…while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Well, I am compelled to write about one of the items on the right.  I still believe the tool should be good enough that it helps you reach your goals.  But after that, it should not become a big process onto itself.  What I want to do is finish tasks and get some actual closure on them.

I recently read in the book Personal Kanban by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry, a phenomenon known as the “Zeigarnik Effect”.  It states that 90% of people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.  Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnic found that the human brain becomes preoccupied with things that are not closed.

Though I have leveraged Kanban with teams, it took me a while to realize that Visual Control Systems could be used to visualize and manage both personal and professional work.  I then found myself using a physical board at the office and an electronic version (web-based tool) at home.

What is visual control, exactly?

A visual control is a technique employed in many places where information is communicated by using visual signals instead of texts or other written instructions. The design is deliberate in allowing quick recognition of the information being communicated, in order to increase efficiency and clarity.

The real question is, can a process tool take the place of individuals and interactions?  Perhaps we need to stop and think about the reality of our world.  Is everyone in your company physically located in the same office space or are you geographically dispersed?  If you’re not all sitting there together in an open workspace, you need to find a tool that will bridge that physical gap and then stay out of the way. Bandit Software’s  LeanKit Kanban does that.  Let me tell you what puts LeanKit in the lead of the Kanban tool race.  It’s called mobile computing.

I seem to carry my iPad with me everywhere. (I’ll be getting an iPhone as soon as my contract is up).  Though the LeanKit iPhone/iPod interface could use a little work, the iPad interface is completely awesome.  The image above is actually a screen print from my iPad.  The design is simple; it’s lightweight; it’s functional.  It helps me visualize my work and it helps control my work in process.  Merge LeanKit Kanban and an iPad and you will have an amazing user experience, as it allows individuals to interact wherever they see fit.  I’m happy because I can access half a dozen different boards with tap of my finger and my wife is happy because I didn’t cover the walls of my home office with whiteboards and sticky notes.

If you’re thinking about using a web-based Kanban tool for yourself, your team, or your organization, all of the vendors out there have relatively similar features.  See which one fits your budget.  If you or your teams are using mobile devices like iPhones, iPods, or iPads (in addition to desktops or laptops), you need to go to iTunes and download this app.  Though you need to have an existing LeanKit account to make the Apple App versions work, you can get a personal account for free!

After you see how well it works for your personal life, I don’t doubt you’ll be using it in the office in the not-too-distant future.

 

HT: Wikipedia
HT: LeanKit
HT: Personal Kanban

 

 

PMI Agile Exam Tools and Techniques

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PMI Agile Tools and Techniques

50 percent of the PMI Agile certification exam will be comprised of questions about tools and techniques.  The PMI Agile Certification team grouped the tools and techniques it 10 areas.

The toolkits below are ranked in the order of their relative importance within the tools and techniques section of the exam.

1 Communications
2 Planning, monitoring, and adapting
3 Agile Estimation
4 Agile analysis and design
5 Product quality
6 Soft skills negotiation
7 Value-based prioritization
8 Risk management
9 Metrics
10 Value stream analysis

 

Want an example of what you will find within the Communications area? Some tools and techniques included but are not limited to information radiators, team space, agile tooling, osmotic communications for collocated and/or distributed teams, and daily stand-ups.
PMI Agile Tools and Techniques

Remember, 50% of the exam will be dedicated to Tools and Techniques and 50% will be dedicated to Knowledge and Skills.

HT: PMI Agile Certification Examination Content Outline

Mapping the PMI-ACP Exam

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PMI Agile Exam Breakdown

PMI Agile Exam BreakdownSo, word on the street is the PMI Agile (Project Professional Certified Practitioner) Certification pilot will begin in just a few weeks.  For those interested in participating in the pilot or taking the exam in a few more months, PMI was kind enough to provide an examination content outline.  Though it’s only 16 pages in length, I started to reorganize the data so people can see what they’re up against.  Download the PMI-ACP Exam Matrix.

Here is a breakdown of the exam

Agile Tools and Techniques (50% of Exam)
I’ll write another post about that later

Agile Knowledge and Skills (50% of Exam)
Percentage of Knowledge and Skill Content / % of Exam
Level 1 (65% / 33%)  (18 knowledge/skills)
Level 2 (25% / 12%) (12 knowledge/skills)
Level 3 (10% / 5%) (13 knowledge/skills)

HT: PMI Agile Certification Examination Content Outline