A life committed to learning.

Category: SCRUM

Release Management – Chapter 8 Available

It’s now available for review the 8th chapter of the book “Agile Product Management: Turning Ideas into Winning Products with Scrum“.

I’ve introduced this book here in Portuguese.

I haven’t read it, but I will, I promise and I hope you, as an agile wannabe, read it too so you will not make anything stupid when planning your releases :).

This chapter deals with release management.  What is covered:

  • Planning the release and creating the release plan
  • Estimating product backlog items
  • Determining velocity
  • Managing cost
  • Dealing with risk
  • Tracking and reporting the progress
  • Practices for large projects including lookahead planning and pipelining

Have a nive reading.

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Don’t do objectives SMART. Do them Concrete first.

You’re in London in a conference assisting to a lot of talking about spreadsheets online. Everyone agrees that they suck in user experience. You’re feeling the agreement from audience that Excel is the standard in that matter.  (You can argue against this, but it’s not the point here!).

You have one team available to start working right now on this great new idea you have about spreadsheets online. You decided to take the risk and tweet  your team:

Our project is to build the next generation Online spreadsheet, that runs everywhere, every time and offers the ultimate user experience.

Wow. What a project.

“But what does it mean?” – your team tweet you back a minute later. Maybe they hit some analysis paralysis state and are wondering “wtf ultimate user experience is??”

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Useless Gantt chart

Yeah, it’s true. I’m in a process of leaning and relearning. Fortunately I have the time to think about the usefulness of things we use in software development. 🙂

This week I came across the question:

“For what are Gantt charts useful?”

And because we live in knowledge the wisdom of the crowds era, I decided to throw an message in LinkedIn’s IT Project Manager group.

Let me start to quote my self in that question:

Are gantt charts useful for software projects?

Software projects are complex not only because the technology but mainly because the human behaviour. Humans collaborate to create solutions for complex problems, are Gantt charts useful to model human behaviour and collaboration?

It seems to me that Gantt charts are well suited for very predictive projects or production lines with machines, and software projects are everything but predictive. What is the point of using a technique that assumes a predictive future in a environment in constant change?

As far as I know, Henry Gantt worked with Frederick Taylor and I assume they had the same way of thinking. Now, if Taylor is a Theory X manager what’s the point to use their tools when you are a theory Y manager? Does it make any sense to use gantt charts to manager projects, specially SW projects?

Additionally, I heard from someone that the first time Henry Gantt introduced what we today know as Gantt charts never used the word projects, mainly because those charts were used to manage assembly and production lines… why are we using Gantt charts to manage the complexity of projects?

I received two answers, till now. One from Maryann Snider, PMP and other from William W. (Woody) Williams in the discussion.

These answers led me to think again in the usefulness of Gantt charts. My current opinion about Gantt charts is (as seen in LinkedIn discussion):

Ok, so a Gantt chart is only a communication chart, right? We can think of it as a tool for visual management if the stakeholders are educated in that way, I guess.

I understand that Gantt charts can be used to show critical path/s calculated with CPM (Critical Path Method).A lot of more tools and techniques exists to assist us in creating a tentative schedule, like the critical chain method as William mentioned. But at the end, a Gantt chart is only a tool for communication, right?

IMHO, there’s a risk with Gantt charts

PMI, for instance, as well as Agile Manifesto, promote face-to-face communication. The heavy use of Gantt charts can be seen as a risk when they start to flow, more than desired, through email within your organization.It’s not only a question of everyone seeing different versions of a project, it’s also a question about the wrong message your organization can be passing to stakeholders: email-communication culture is Ok.

I think we’re loosing sight of what its important in projects, the People. So, the use of Gantt charts for communication of project status, progress, etc should be revisited, IMHO. Moreover, I think that a “Go see” culture is the most effective way to access progress.

I’m not against the use of gantt charts in any way. I just have to believe in their utility before using them.

And you, how do you feel about the uselfulness of Gantt charts?

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The ScrumMaster is not useless

I’m back from the Certified ScrumMaster Course + and heard a lot of Craig Larman’s bad jokes 🙂

Last year I wrote this article where I expressed my feelings about the usefulness of the ScrumMaster. During the last three days I learned a lot useful and funny stuff about Scrum and Lean. I enjoyed leaning that the ScrumMaster is responsible to help the organization change to a more Lean mode of operation where, among other things, teams are self organized and self managed. I’ve also leaned that the ScrumMaster is not useless! ScrumMaster is a temporary but necessary waste!

And if you think about this, it is probably the truth. If you have a truly agile and lean organization for what you need a  ScrumMaster? To help in a goal already accomplished?

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Agile Product Management

Para o Outono de 2009, está previsto o lançamento do livro “Agile Product Management – Turning ideas into Winning Products with Scrum“. Na minha opinião, é um livro que faz falta.

Com cada vez mais organizações a adoptarem SCRUM para o desenvolvimento de software,  é importante que as responsabilidades do Product Owner sejam clarificadas e entendidas por todos.

De acordo com o autor Roman Pichler, este é um livro para todos os interessados em Agile Product Management, principalmente para os actuais Product Owners ou para quem está a pensar assumir essa função.

Já se podem ler o capítulo 1 e 2, e claro, dar o vosso feedback 🙂

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Useless Certified Scrum Masters

Are you willing to have a surgery with a surgeon that has taken a two days course in surgery?

Think about that for a moment. If you answer “No” (which I believe you do unless you’re a suicidal crazy person) I’m also sure you will not believe that a Certified Scrum Master (or a bunch of them) will save your projects and your business.

SCRUM is simple. SCRUM is hard. There is no ambiguity here. It is simple but it is hard.

Most of the organizations implementing SCRUM do not bother to find out why the “old” processes haven’t worked and simple jump into SCRUM because it is simple. People tend to judge that simple things are also easy thinks.

I think is a mistake, when you’re the adopting SCRUM framework (or any other agile process/methodology/practice/framework) to jump into it and trashing everything you learned from the past failures. This is a warning of continuing the failure path.

SCRUM, and any other agile methodology or process is not about the process or methodology itself, it is about a change in mindset and organization values and principles. SCRUM will help your organization to change, but will not change it by itself. Do not expect that SCRUM will solve all of your problems but expect it to show you all your problems.

What about the good engineering practices? Will SCRUM save your project if you are constantly building garbage? Probably SCRUM will help you to build garbage more quickly. That’s great if your business is all about building garbage.

I am just starting with this stuff of Agile Software development, so do not take what I have said here too seriously 🙂 . I am sure your certified surgeon, with a two days course, will do a great job to your brains after a surgery to your head.

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