Agile PM Process Grid–6.6 Agile Tooling (2)

In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, he creates an “agile project management process grid” which describes 87 processes used in agile project management.   These processes are divided into five process groups (Initiate, Plan, Iterate, Control, and Close), which are analogous to the five process groups in traditional project management, and seven knowledge areas which can be mapped, more or less, onto the ten knowledge areas in traditional project management.

Now I am starting on a block of four processes that are part of the sixth knowledge area of Communication that are done during the Planning phase of the project.   The first three of these four processes are 6.3 Communication Protocols, 6.4 Information Radiators, 6.5 Team Space, covered in previous posts.   This post continues discussing 6.6 Agile Tooling.   The first of the agile tools is a product vision box, which often includes a vision statement, sometimes often referred to as an elevator statement.   This was discussed in the last post.   In this post, I discuss the second of the agile tools, a flexibility matrix.

A flexibility matrix is a tool that communicates how to handle trade-offs with a grid showing the relative importance of constraints such as scope, schedule, cost, and quality by defining them as fixed, firm, or flexible (only one constraint may be fixed).

The Flexibility Matrix

As discussed in a previous post, in traditional PM, the scope is fixed as much as possible in the beginning of the project, and the other two of the triple constraints of time and cost are estimated in relationship to this more-or-less fixed variable.

In agile PM, it is one of the two triples constraints of time or cost, usually time, which is the fixed variable, and the scope is the one constraint that is flexible.    Okay, in theory that it is understandable, but when push comes to shove, and some of the scope has to be thrown out of the project, how do you make that decision?    That’s where the flexibility matrix comes in.   As mentioned above, it shows how to handle trade-offs and prioritize features by showing the relative importance of constraints such as scope, schedule, cost and quality (although other constraints may be added to the matrix).

NOTE:   When using the flexibility matrix, only one constraint may be considered fixed, all of the others have to be defined as firm or flexible in relationship to this fixed constraint.    In the example below, the flexibility matrix is given where the schedule is fixed, the scope and quality are firm, and the cost is flexible by comparison.

Flexibility Matrix

  Fixed Firm Flexible
Scope   X  
Schedule X    
Cost     X
Quality   X  

Usually the flexibility matrix is incorporated into another tool called the Product Data Sheet, which is covered in the next post.   .


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