Agile PM Process Grid–6.10 Retrospectives (1)


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.

The previous posts have covered the “Initiate”, “Plan”, “Iterate”, and “Control” process group of an agile project.   Now I am focusing on the “Close” process group.   I first want to define what I mean by that term of “process group”.   Why do I use this instead of the word “phase”?    Phase implies a sequence that goes more or less from one set of processes to another.   In reality, after the initiate and plan process groups, an agile project actually shuttles back and forth between the “iterate” and “control” process groups.   However, a project always ends with the “Close” process group, but the “close” control group also refers to those activities which are done at the close of an iteration and not just of the product itself–such as the process 6.10 Retrospectives which is covered in this blog post.

Today’s post is the first of several that cover 6.10 Retrospectives.   This post covers the general features of retrospective meetings.   As opposed to the processes 1.10 Deliverables Acceptance and 2.14 Product Release which are product-centric, retrospectives are process-centric meetings where the team identifies how it can improve its development process.

In traditional waterfall project management, there is an exercise that is done at the end of each project called Lessons Learned, which is an analogous process for those type of projects.    What is interesting is that the fact that agile does a Retrospective at the end of each iteration has started to effect the world of waterfall projects.   At a Project Management Institute Chicagoland chapter dinner meeting last year, there was a presentation on Lessons Learned and the person who was discussing the topic said that the “hot trend” in project management was start compiling “Lessons Learned” periodically on a project and not to wait until the end of the project.   Afterwards, I asked the speaker where this movement was coming from, and he said simply, “it’s based on a sprint retrospective in agile”.

One major principle of a retrospective meeting in agile that may be different than a “Lessons Learned” exercise in traditional PM is that the facilitator should be someone who is external to the team (but most likely internal to the organization).    This is often done by getting a scrum master from another team to lead the retrospective.

In the next post, I will go into the specifics of what elements go into making an effective and efficient agile retrospective meeting.

 

Agile PM Process Grid–4.13 Self-Assessment


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.

Today’s post on 4.13 Self-Assessment, which is the fifth of the 7 processes in the Close process group, and is part of the Team Performance knowledge area.

Although agile terms are self-organizing and self-directing, it is advantageous, according to John Stenbeck, to have effective assessments of team performance.    In the spirit of agile, you have the team conduct a self-examination along two dimensions:  delivery performance and behavior.

  1. Delivery performance–how efficiently and effectively did the team deliver the features and stories that were defined as the iteration goal?    There should be objective external measures such as how many story points were planned versus how many were actually devivered.
  2. Behavior–how well did the team apply best practices from the chosen agile framework .    This is a measurement of team cooperation, cohesion, and commitment.

The form used to chart the self-assessment can be as simple as having columns or rows for “above expectations”, “met expectations”, and “below expectations”.    This is to be done at the end of each iteration so that trends can be observed, and then finally at the end of the project, when the product is released.

The next three posts cover 6.10 Retrospectives, which is part of the Communications knowledge area.

 

Agile PM Process Grid–4.12 Performance Incentives


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.

Today’s post on 4.12 Performance Incentives,  which is the fourth of the 7 processes in the Close process group, and is part of the Team Performance knowledge area.

Although agile terms are self-organizing and self-directing, it is advantageous, according to John Stenbeck, to have effective assessments of team performance.    In the spirit of agile, you have the team conduct a self-examination along two dimensions:  delivery performance and behavior.

  1. Delivery performance–how efficiently and effectively did the team deliver the features and stories that were defined as the iteration goal?    There should be objective external measures such as how many story points were planned versus how many were actually devivered.
  2. Behavior–how well did the team apply best practices from the chosen agile framework .    This is a measurement of team cooperation, cohesion, and commitment.

The form used to chart the self-assessment can be as simple as having columns or rows for “above expectations”, “met expectations”, and “below expectations”.    This is to be done at the end of each iteration so that trends can be observed, and then finally at the end of the project, when the product is released.

Rewards can be given to the team for those iterations where they have met expectations, and even larger rewards can be given to the team if they have exceeded expectations.

HOWEVER, it should be noted that exceeding customer expectations is a tricky concept, because if you add features that the customer didn’t ask for, this is not exceeding expectations, but GOLD-PLATING, and is frowned upon by the Project Management Institute because it is ripe for abuse.

One final note about performance incentives:   note that they are not given to individuals, because it is important to promote cooperation rather than rivalry within the team.

The next post covers 4.13 Self-Assessment.

 

 

 

 

 

Agile PM Process Grid–4.11 Team Evaluations


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.

The previous posts have covered the “Initiate”, “Plan”, “Iterate”, and “Control” process group of an agile project.   Tomorrow I start on the “Control” process group, but I first want to define what I mean by that term of “process group”.   Why do I use this instead of the word “phase”?    Phase implies a sequence that goes more or less from one set of processes to another.   In reality, after the initiate and plan process groups, an agile project actually shuttles back and forth between the “iterate” and “control” process groups.   However, a project always ends with the “Close” process group.

Today’s post on 4.11 Team Evaluations, which is the third of the 7 processes in the Close process group, and is part of the Team Performance knowledge area.

Although agile terms are self-organizing and self-directing, it is advantageous, according to John Stenbeck, to have effective assessments of team performance.    In the spirit of agile, you have the team conduct a self-examination along two dimensions:  delivery performance and behavior.

  1. Delivery performance–how efficiently and effectively did the team deliver the features and stories that were defined as the iteration goal?    There should be objective external measures such as how many story points were planned versus how many were actually devivered.
  2. Behavior–how well did the team apply best practices from the chosen agile framework .    This is a measurement of team cooperation, cohesion, and commitment.

The form used to chart the self-assessment can be as simple as having columns or rows for “above expectations”, “met expectations”, and “below expectations”.    This is to be done at the end of each iteration so that trends can be observed, and then finally at the end of the project, when the product is released.

The next post covers 4.12 Performance Incentives.

Agile PM Process Grid–2.14 Product Release


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.

The previous posts have covered the “Initiate”, “Plan”, “Iterate”, and “Control” process group of an agile project.   Tomorrow I start on the “Control” process group, but I first want to define what I mean by that term of “process group”.   Why do I use this instead of the word “phase”?    Phase implies a sequence that goes more or less from one set of processes to another.   In reality, after the initiate and plan process groups, an agile project actually shuttles back and forth between the “iterate” and “control” process groups.   However, a project always ends with the “Close” process group.

Today’s post on 2.14 Product Release is the second of 7 processes in the Close process group.

Product releases are sets of product functionality developed over the course of multiple iterations.   Releases may be defined as:

  1. Internal–releases for projects which are for services or results that are to be used within the company
  2. Incremental–releases for projects which are for products that are to be used by customers, but which are intended to be followed by further releases
  3. Final–release for projects which are for products that are to be used by customers and/or end users

The next post covers 4.11 Team Evaluations.

 

 

Agile PM Process Grid-1.10 Deliverables Acceptance


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.

The previous posts have covered the “Initiate”, “Plan”, “Iterate”, and “Control” process group of an agile project.   Tomorrow I start on the “Control” process group, but I first want to define what I mean by that term of “process group”.   Why do I use this instead of the word “phase”?    Phase implies a sequence that goes more or less from one set of processes to another.   In reality, after the initiate and plan process groups, an agile project actually shuttles back and forth between the “iterate” and “control” process groups.   However, a project always ends with the “Close” process group.

Today’s post on 1.10 Deliverables Acceptance is the first of 7 processes in the Close process group.

Deliverables Acceptance

This process is the whole summit of the project, where the customer or sponsor formally accepts the deliverables.    Even in agile, with its de-emphasis of formalization, requires that the deliverables be accepted formally by the stakeholders because it is crucial to prevent misunderstandings.

Here are the parts of the process.

  1. Stakeholders commit to a formal acceptance
  2. Administrative closure:   milestone payments, go/no-go decisions about the next phase
  3. Necessary documentation:  end-of-project administrative reports, financial reports, continuous improvement notes
  4. Celebration!

Celebration is a way of paying back the hard work of the team members, but it also allows a sense of purpose for team members whose sole purpose in the past few weeks or months has been to get to this point.    Beside project closure therefore, it is there for emotional closure as well.

The next process is 2.14 Product Release under the Value-Driven Delivery knowledge area.

Agile PM Process Grid-The Close Process group


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.

The previous posts have covered the “Initiate”, “Plan”, “Iterate”, and “Control” process group of an agile project.   Tomorrow I start on the “Control” process group, but I first want to define what I mean by that term of “process group”.   Why do I use this instead of the word “phase”?    Phase implies a sequence that goes more or less from one set of processes to another.   In reality, after the initiate and plan process groups, an agile project actually shuttles back and forth between the “iterate” and “control” process groups.   However, a project always ends with the “Close” process group.

Here are the processes in the “Close” process group:

1.10  Deliverables Acceptance

2.14  Product Release

4.14 Team Evaluations

4.15 Performance Incentives

4.16 Self assessment

6.10 Retrospectives

7.7  Process Tailoring

Out of the 87 processes in agile project management, the Close process group contains the above 7, making it the process group with the fewest amount of processes.   It is nonetheless as vital a process group as the others, and I will start with the first process in the group, 1.10 Deliverables Acceptance, in the next post.

 

 

 

 

Agile PM Process Grid–7.6 Process Analysis


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.

I am now covering processes that are performed during the Control process group of an agile project.   Remember, after the Planning process group, an agile project does not go in a linear fashion from Iterate to Control to Close; rather, it cycles from Iteration to Iteration with periodic checkpoints (many times at the end of an iteration cycle) where you Control or make changes to a project to make sure it gets back on track.   Or sometimes, you even change the track itself if there is a change in the requirements.

In the past set of posts, I have covered those processes done in the Control process group that relate to the sixth knowledge area of Communication.   Today I start covering the process related to Continuous Improvement:  7.6 Process Analysis.

Process analysis describes a process by showing the inputs into the process, the operations of the process, and the outputs from the process.   Process improvement can only come after understanding of how the process works.

Then there is a process flow diagram created which shows how one process flows into another.   Processes done sequentially are drawn in series; processes done simultaneously are drawn in parallel.   This helps identify any bottlenecks that reduce process capacity, and quantify the impact of these bottlenecks.

Here are some common opportunities for process improvement based on analysis of the process flow diagram mentioned above:

  • Reducing work-in-process inventory
  • Increasing the capacity of a bottleneck
  • Minimizing non-value added activities

These improvements can be made at a minimal cost, whereas optimizing the capacity of a single process can require a significant investment.    So choose “lean” over “mean” when trying to improve processes!

This concludes the review of the Control process group.   The next post will start the last process group, when the team will Close the project.

 

Agile PM Process Grid-3.9 Knowledge Sharing


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.

I am now covering processes that are performed during the Control process group of an agile project.   Remember, after the Planning process group, an agile project does not go in a linear fashion from Iterate to Control to Close; rather, it cycles from Iteration to Iteration with periodic checkpoints (many times at the end of an iteration cycle) where you Control or make changes to a project to make sure it gets back on track.   Or sometimes, you even change the track itself if there is a change in the requirements.

In the past set of posts, I have covered those processes done in the Control process group that relate to the fifth knowledge area of Risk Management.   Today I start covering the process related to Communication:  3.9 Knowledge Sharing

1. Skill-related Knowledge Sharing

One of the best long-term investments in a company is not a senior person with highly developed skills, but a senior person with high developed skills who is willing to transmit these skills to junior members.    This allows the junior members to fill additional roles when the team is stretching to reach an iteration goal.

2. Project-related Knowledge Sharing

When a technical challenge is presented that requires the team to explore a possible solution (sometimes referred to as an exploratory spike), it is good to have someone who is experienced about things that work as well as things that don’t work.   This can help the team in an open space meeting when possible solutions are being evaluated.

3. Process-related Knowledge Sharing

This means sharing knowledge related to agile practices and agile frameworks.   This not only is useful within teams, but within teams as well.   Such an exchange of knowledge is beneficial for delivering on process improvement activities.

The next process covers the last knowledge area of Continuous Improvement, namely, 7.6 Process Analysis.

Agile PM Process Grid-5.13 Escaped Defects


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.

I am now covering processes that are performed during the Control process group of an agile project.   Remember, after the Planning process group, an agile project does not go in a linear fashion from Iterate to Control to Close; rather, it cycles from Iteration to Iteration with periodic checkpoints (many times at the end of an iteration cycle) where you Control or make changes to a project to make sure it gets back on track.   Or sometimes, you even change the track itself if there is a change in the requirements.

In the past set of posts, I have covered those processes done in the Control process group that relate to the fourth knowledge area of Team Performance.   Today I start covering  processes related to Risk Management:

  • 5.11  Obstacle Removal
  • 5.12  Variance and Trend Analysis
  • 5.13  Escaped Defects

The first of these is 5.11 Obstacle removal, which I covered in the previous post; I cover 5.12 Variance and Trend Analysis.

Do you remember the Christmas Story by Charles Dickens, where Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by the ghosts of three spirits:   the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future?

In a project, a project manager or scrum master is also haunted by three ghosts, but in this case they are called the Ghost of Defects Past, the Ghost of Defects Present, and the Ghost of Defects Future.

The Ghost of Defects Present is detected through variance analysis, and the measures taken to exorcise this ghost are called corrective actions.   The Ghost of Defects Future is detected through trend analysis, and the measures taken to exorcise this ghost are called preventive actions.   This process of 5.12 Variance and Trend Analysis is covered in the previous post.   The Ghost of Defects Past is covered in this process, 5.13 Escaped Defects.

The first activity to be done if escaped defects are found by users is to repair them, which requires finding out when they were created, and what the root cause of the problem is.

The cost of this process of repairing Escaped Defects needs to be measured because it is part of the costs of poor quality.    Often when asked to justify quality measures, it is useful to have the cost of poor quality available to show that the cost of implementing measures to improve is less than the cost of poor quality.

Finally, there must be an improvement process put in place to eliminate similar kinds of defects from escaping in the future.    This reduces the risk of having future costs that are related to poor quality.

The next process I will cover is the one that is related to the sixth knowledge area of communication that is done during the Control process group, namely, 6.9 Knowledge Sharing.