Agile PM Process Grid-2.8 Cycle Time Measurement


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.

Cycle time in general is the amount of time required to delivered capabilities.   In any framework, whether it be agile or traditional PM, the concept is to measure cycle time so that it can be reduced by removing those activities that don’t create value and thus waste time.

In an agile framework, the definition of cycle time is narrower:   it is the start-to-finish time required to complete a potentially shippable increment of the solution.   One thing to understand is that cycle time is a process measure, not a person measure.   In other words, the cycle time may be four weeks given a certain set of resources working on the solution.   However, with other resources that are more effective, that same solution may take only three weeks.

To improve cycle time, John Stenbeck gives four guideslines.

  1.  Build the roadmap as a swarm–bring together all of the people involved on the project, in order to gain everyone’s insights on how to decrease the overall time required to complete the product.
  2. Define acceptance metrics for releases and iterations–this is focused on the customer/proxy (aka the Product Owner) to produce specific metrics that will validate the potentially shippable increments; this will reduce the time between releases as the acceptance (i.e., validation) process will be minimized.
  3. Select an iteration length that is sustainable–although an iteration length is referred to as a “sprint”, the entire project must be run as a marathon, which must be run at a steady pace over the long haul, one that is conducive to the repeated completion of potentially shippable increments.
  4. Recalibrate and institutionalize learning–this improves the team dynamic within the iteration by creating a learning exchange between members, and scaling up the learning achieved individually to the institutional level that ends up creating organization standards that increase the company’s ability to more accurately estimate cycle times for roadmaps and release plans.

The next post will cover process 2.9 Work-in-Process (WIP) limits.

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