Special Delivery – Delivering Agile Projects

Many people in the agile software development community believe that the problems they are facing within their organization are unique to them and their situation. After traveling the globe and listening to groups of all shapes and sizes, I have determined that many of the roadblocks to successful Agile development and implementation are similar in nature from one organization to the next.

Today, consider it my gift to you to let you know that not only are you not alone in what you are facing, but many other organizations have taken steps to improve the software development process and the way process by which it is delivered.

Whether you are brand new to Agile in general, or if you are doing an Agile Scrum or Agile XP hybrid, teams have walked this path before and here is what has been identified as the core list of problems they face. Let’s just call it the top 3 roadblocks to special delivery:

Coming in at Number Three, Lack of Established Definition of Done (Accountability)

Teams need to take the time to discuss what the differences are between development complete, test complete, done, and final acceptance criteria has been accepted. You would be amazed how many organizations struggle with the lack of this definition and the problems it causes when people figure out that done is not clearly defined and it drives people to work in silos. Lean Software Development and or Kanban Software Development have made attempts to address this issue by establishing clear work in progress limits. The team needs to clearly understand that done is done and what level of expectation has been set for them.

Not too far behind at Number Two, Inability to Accurately Estimate and or Forecast at both the Story and Task Level

Let’s face it, developers HATE sitting in meetings. They especially loathe meetings that take them away from the coding world to provide estimates that only are useful to the business. We need to find the most efficient and accurate means for people at all levels to estimate, make certain teams agree to the standard, and understand the importance of the why behind the what. Why we estimate and the value it delivers should drive people in any role to use efficient Agile project management software to capture the data in a format that makes it as easy as possible for everyone to be consistent and get back to work.

And finally, the Number One Problem teams face when trying to deliver, The Product Owner or Product Ownership Cloud lacks the Ability to Precisely Slice & Dice Information From a Traditional Project Management Document Into Meaningful User Stories.

The role of Product Owner has been so overloaded in the Agile world that many times people do not get the picture of just how much responsibility and accountability ride on this role. In Scrum, I have heard these people referred to as the ‘single wringable neck’. This is the person or group who needs to consider value to the organization, need of the customer, & perceived level of effort and complexity to the development team, and with that data need to organize and compile a list of meaningful items to a group of wizards who will shred them even further into tasks. I do not care who you think you might be, this role is NOT an easy one. I am of the opinion the Product Owners need the greatest level of training in order to help them understand why agile, how agile, and be armed with what they need to be successful.

So as you are sipping eggnog and eating fruitcake, remember that the success of the Agile project, or the special delivery, lies in your hands.

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