Everybody’s a Project Manager, Part 3

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

  • Scrum is all about optimizing time and ensuring maximum production.
  • When working on projects with a team, hold daily Scrum meetings
    • These meetings are held at the same time, and the same place
    • The same questions are answered: What’s done? What needs doing? Are there any blocks? New decisions? What’s new in the sprint backlog (iteration to-do list)?
    • Meetings are 15-20 minutes, 7-10 people.
    • No chickens (involved), only pigs (committed). (Concept taken from a joke).
    • If there are any blocks, it is the task of the Scrum master to remove those prior to the next meeting.
  • Good Scrum meetings start on time (preferrably in the morning), finish on time, are predictable and participants have prepared.
    • Scrum meetings ensure that new problems are uncovered and they give sense of project sync and overview.
    • Meeting times, like deadlines are to be met!
  • Assertive communication is important in Scrum.
    • Teach yourself to be assertive, neither defensive (silent) nor aggressive (loud).
    • Learn new things, don’t just turn on the auto-pilot.
    • Talk less (shut up!), listen more.
    • If there’s something you do not understand, ask questions.
    • Know that you’ll most likely hear what you want to hear.
    • Leave your ego at home.
    • Respect yourself and others.
    • Pay extra attention to the submissive participants.
  • Ensure quality by picking improvement areas using a Pareto chart.
    • The Pareto chart follows the 80-20 rule (ex.: 80% of all traffic accidents are caused by 20% of the drivers).
  • At the end of each iteration (a.k.a. sprint), hold a sprint review.
    • A sprint review consists of: 1) demo, 2) sign-off chart for the customer, 3) delivery plan review, 4) problem review, 5) idea brainstorming.
    • A sprint meeting is no longer than 4 hours.
    • The customer can be part of the meeting; the sprint delivery (product so far) is demonstrated.
    • The purpose of a sprint review is to (further) define function and design as well as SWOT.
    • PowerPoints are banned.
    • Brainstorms between production team and customer (if present) are encouraged, but no entries are added to the product backlog. Leave that for the Sprint planning meetings at the beginning of the next iteration.
    • If the sprint review is held the day before the last day of the sprint, the last day can be used to iron out minor bugs that popped up.
  • Due to the nature of agile development in sprints, budgets are different from traditional budgets.
    • The customer may have to accept rolling forecasts that can change, for better or worse.
    • For your own benefit, create a single budget/time overview document at the end of projects. Was the ROI (Return On Investment) okay?
    • Be honest.

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