Everybody's a Project Manager, Part 2

This is part 2 in a list of key project management tips and techniques. See also part 1, part 3 and part 4.

  • No single management model will work for all types of development. Pick the one, or parts of the one that works for you.
  • Each management model is essentially a toolbox. Use only the tools you need to solve your problems.
  • For software development, the Scrum model has benefits over the traditional “waterfall” model.
    • Because Scrum deals with sequential, delivery-oriented work iterations (sprints), it’s easier and cheaper to backtrack when encountering changes.
    • Because Scrum is delivery-oriented, it allows developers to be accomodating when the customer makes new requests.
    • Scrum encourages code and project refactoring; that means it encourages doing things right rather than doing things quickly.
  • Defining a manifesto of company values helps to clarify the overall direction and game rules of a company.
    • A manifesto can be used as a code of laws for whether or not to take new jobs.
    • Build the manifesto by a) writing down values on stickies, b) grouping stickies together, c) assigning points to each group and d) picking only the 5 top scoring groups.
  • Every week, evaluate what parts of the code can be recycled for other projects.
    • When evaluating parts to refactor, sort ideas in “keep this” and “try that” groups.
  • When building an iteration task list (sprint backlog), a good use case can be helpful in translating specific goals into managable tasks.
    • Use cases come in many sizes. They can be as elaborate or as simple as is necessary.
    • A good use case can help identify unknowns (the “black box”), and can translate user-terms to a product backlog (project to-do list) of tech requirements.
    • A good use case has pictures and sketches.
  • During an iteration, move completed tasks from the product backlog (project to-do list) to the sprint backlog (iteraion to-do list).
  • During tight deadlines, it is helpful to evaluate the time needed to finish the product backlog—every day.
    • To give an overview of deadlines, a Gantt chart is helpful.
  • Using the Agile model (working in iterations), iteration end-dates are set in stone. If you can’t finish all sprint backlog items, move some items back to the product backlog.

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