Troubleshooting Agile Project Challenges (1)–Production of an Agile Charter


I am going over the Agile Practice Guide, a publication put out by the Agile Alliance in conjunction with the Project Management Institute.    I am currently reviewing chapter 5 on the implementation of agile projects, and am now on section 5.3, Troubleshooting Agile Project Challenges.

On pages 58 and 59 of the Agile Practice Guide, there are twenty-one challenges or “pain points” described together with the suggested solution(s) to the problem.   However, they are listed in a random, laundry-list fashion without much rhyme or reason to the order.  So what I have done is reviewed all the suggested solutions and grouped those challenges that require the same type of solution.   These five types of solution are:

  1. Production of agile charter
  2. Product backlog/user story definition
  3. Kanban boards
  4. Focus on team roles/responsibilities
  5. Testing implementation

This is the first post, so I will cover the four challenges (out of the total 21) that require the production of an agile charter.

Here are the pain points and their suggested solutions.

  1. Unclear purpose or mission for the team–create an agile charter which includes the vision (why is the product of the project being produced–what need does it fulfill), the mission (what benefits does your organization stand to gain by doing the project)
  2. Unclear working agreements for the team–create an agile charter that includes the values of the team, the principles, and the working agreements (how will meetings be conducted, how will people communicate with each other, etc.)
  3. Unclear team context–create an agile charter that explains the boundaries or constraints (e.g., is there are a hard deadline for the project), and the committed assets (both physical resources and human resources).
  4. Unclear requirements–create an agile charter that crafts a product vision (as mentioned above, why the product of the project is being produced).   The team and the product owner (who looks out for the interest of the customers and stakeholders) should clarify the expectations for the product, and decompose this into tracking a list of smaller, concrete requirements.

As you can see, going through the agile chartering process solves a number of problems down the line.    The biggest mistake people have when doing a project is rushing to the planning (design) phase before spending sufficient time in the initializing phase which includes the production of a project charter.

In the next post, the next type of solution will be discussed:   paying attention to the product backlog and the definition of the user stories it contains.   This process solves the largest group of challenges or pain points of any of the five listed above:  eight to be exact.   These eight challenges will be discussed in the next post.

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