Category Archives: project management

Relaxing After The Orlando Scrum Gathering

Chris and I are at Disney World for a few days of R&R after hosting the Open Space at the Orlando Scrum Gathering, but the park will have to be pretty supercalifragilistic to compare to the conference, which was wonderful. So much engagement–250 people there, and yet it felt intimate. I left feeling I had got to know more people than I'd normally meet in a year. Check out the wiki to get to know some of them yourself.

There was a large PMI presence for the first time ever, and despite some joking by the Scrummies about feeding them to the alligators in the hotel's atrium, a lot of positive, productive interaction occurred–there was a meeting of hearts if not quite of minds… yet.

Speaking of the meeting of hearts and minds, on Monday, March 23rd, we'll be back in the Bay Area and Chris will be leading a full-day workshop on agile project management at the SD Forum offices in San Jose. Lots of experiential learning in this one. We have had a great response, and you'll be joining a group that includes PMPs at large and small companies, as well as job-seekers looking to add marketable skills to their resume.

Share it!

Is there such a thing as Agile Project Management? Gosh we hope so…

… because Chris is leading a day-long public workshop on Agile Project Management on March 23rd, at the SD Forum offices in San Jose.

The question, however, is one being hotly debated between Australian PM guru Pat Weaver and assorted commenters on his blog, in a post titled Agile is NOT a Project Management Methodology. Weaver claims that "Agile is not an IT project management methodology any more than choosing to use pre-cast concrete in preference to brickwork is a construction management methodology."

He goes on to say, "What is lacking in most commentary I’ve seen on Agile is any sensible discussion on using Agile within a project environment. The critical changes to scope management, change management, cost management and time management needed to effectively deal with the fluidity of Agile, within the constraints of a project, need discussion."

Ah, good point. This is just the kind of stuff we hope to address in the workshop. How does Agile work in conjunction with project management–and how doesn't it? Weaver actually hints that traditional project management may not be all that compatible with Agile–although in a subsequent post on Managing  Agile Projects he goes into some rather brilliant detail analyzing just how agile and PMBOK can work together, concluding ultimately that they can and do go together quite well: 

…align the PMBOK to an Agile project delivery method and the overarching PM process will enhance the probability of success. Treat an Agile project in the same way as a traditional Waterfall project and the PM processes will guarantee failure!

Intrigued? Read the rest of Pat's writing, then come on out for the class! We promise to elucidate further, and cover all of the finer points of applying project management techniques in an agile environment, including:

  • Estimation
  • Release
  • Prioritization
  • The rhythm of
    iterative development and delivery
  • The flow of
  • Roles and
  • Communication
    on an agile team
  • Empirical
    process control
  • Agile metrics
  • Simple tools for managing agile projects

To register for the class, click here. If you see Chris or me at P-Camp, or SD West this week, hit us up for a flyer.

Share it!

This week on InfoQ – Information radiators: Is low-tech really better?

Information Radiator In this week's InfoQ article, Chris covers the debate over high tech vs.low tech toolsets (what Alistair Cockburn refers to as information radiators) for managing agile projects: eg, which is the lesser evil, killing a tree and taping its carcass to the wall one notecard at a time, or clicking through an annoying heirarchical menu every time you want to see your data?

The focus of the article is a discussion thread on the Xtreme Programming Yahoo Group, where topic is being contested with a great deal of heat.

There is a natural tendency among technologists to prefer technological solutions, but many of the debaters claim that experience has shown the low tech solutions to be best. Ron Jeffries says:

Display important project information not in some formal way, not on
the web, not in PowerPoint, but in charts on the wall that no one can
miss….A web site doesn't push information at us; we have to go look.
A slide show always comes with a meeting and a lecture. A wall chart is
there when we are, in our face, always visible.

This makes intuitive sense to me. I think there's something important about making the whole visible at a glance. Imagine how hard it would be to read a novel if there were one word printed per page–we read words in context, not in isolation. I think we experience projects much the same way, and it's important to always have a view of the gestalt.

The Agile Tools blog has an archival post that features pictures of several examples (as pictured) of both virtual and physical task boards. It's interesting to look at them and see which ones make you want to be on that project.

Share it!

See you at P Camp

Apparently you and your entire extended family have already signed up to attend P Camp, as registration is now closed at 550 sign-ups. There is, however, a hint that it may be opened up again should host Enthiosys figure out a way to lay folks head to foot instead of end to end and squeeze more of them into the Yahoo Campus venue. We hope so, and will keep you posted!

For those of you who missed last year's camp, it is a one day unconference for Product Managers, meaning that any attendee can propose and lead a session on any topic they like. Last year, Chris led a session on Why Agile Projects Succeed (or Fail) and packed the house for an Agile 101 session. There were so many good questions he didn't get through all of his material. Here is a blow by blow description of everything that happened at P-Camp last year.

This is a superbly organized event, with a great website, a facebook group, a linkedin group, and a wiki that people actually use. Apparently someone there knows how to manage a project.

Share it!

PMI Workshop: The Most Effective Tools & Techniques for Project Managers

Chris recently had the pleasure of facilitating a lunchtime workshop as part of PMI Silicon Valley and SDForum's Tools & Techniques series. A group of 23 Project Managers turned out to discuss "The Most Effective Tools & Techniques For Project Managers" using the Group Wisdom Without Groupthink (GWG) structured brainstorming method.

GWG begins with a round-robin survey of the entire group to elicit ideas, which are posted on the wall. Next, participants vote for the items they think most important and the results are arranged in tiers. Here are the results:

Tier 1:
11-15 votes
Web conference tools
Well-defined metrics
Scope management
Project meeting w/agenda
Proactive risk management
Brainstorming session
Project stage gate reviews w/all key
Face-to-face kick-off
Tier 2: 6-10 votes
Management by walking around
Status reports
Repeatable release process
MS Excel
Resource management
Stakeholder management
Tier 3: 1-5 votes
Tools for change management
Resource allocation matrix (RAM)
Portfolio management
Acknowledge success
Post-meeting buffer
Work breakdown
Social collaboration
Effective open-ended questions
Process workflow w/visio
Requirements trackability
Setting team ground rules
Weekly status for subject matter experts
Short-term goals
MS Project
Adaptive project management
Project dream list
Case complete
Version control tools
Managing up
Determine costs of being late
Global collaboration – video
Tier 4: 0 votes
User contextual inquiries
Preview of materials
Going down a rat hole
Scrum meetings

Group Wisdom Without Groupthink works well with all kinds of groups, both technical and non, but clearly the project managers had a special affinity for the exercise, as participants rated it an average of 4.75 out of five, leaving comments like, "a very useful technique that I can implement
right away."

Here is a similar workshop Chris ran on the topic of What Makes Agile Projects Succeed (or fail)? at Agile Open California 2008.

Share it!

Intro to Extreme Programming

This past Wednesday, I presented a 45-minute introduction to Extreme Programming (XP) to the Project Management and Program Management Special Interest Group, who meet every week Cupertino. The group was lively and full of questions. I especially enjoyed the chance to discuss XP, as that is where I got my start doing agile software development, back around the turn of the century.

Contrary to popular belief, Extreme Programming (XP) is not writing code while kiteboarding. Extreme Programming is an agile software development methodology created by Kent Beck in the mid nineties, while he was the leader of a large software project at Chrysler. The true genius of XP was selecting a set of ‘best practices’ that compliment each other and form the foundation for extreme productivity, extreme adaptability, extreme quality, and extreme satisfaction for every stakeholder in the software project.

Here are the slides, and here are some links:
A Gentle Introduction to Extreme Programming
Wikipedia on XP
The original home of XP on the Portland Pattern Repository
A set of XP links, including tools

Share it!

XP for Project and Program Management SIG


Tomorrow morning I’ll be giving an ‘Intro to Extreme Programming’ talk for the Project Management and Program Management Special Interest Group in Cupertino. The event is open to the public, and group asks for a $2 donation from each participant. We will be giving away a copy of “Planning Extreme Programming” by Kent Beck and Martin Fowler.

July 9
7:30 AM – 8:00 AM Informal Networking
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM Presentation

UCSC Extension
10420 Bub Road
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 861-3700



Share it!

IEEE Offshore Panel Discussion

Today’s engineering managers need to be able to manage projects where some, or even all, of the engineers are located offshore. While the situation is becoming more common, the challenges and opportunities are still not widely understood. On the evening of March 6, the Silicon Valley IEEE Technology Management Council is bringing together 4 panelists, with diverse backgrounds and experience, to answer your questions about managing with offshore engineers.

Richard Danielson is Founder and President of PlanV Software. He has been a consumer and a provider of outsourced software development services since the mid-80s, working with offshore engineers from India, Russia, Israel, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam. One of Rich’s projects was helping Honeywell set up their Bangalore development center. In early 2007 Rich founded PlanV Software which provides Vietnam-based web and mobile device application development services to small and young companies.

Rakesh Gowda is the Director of Software Development at QuinStreet, a provider of online marketing and media services for nearly 600 clients, headquartered in Foster City. In 2005, Rakesh traveled back to his home country of India to set up QuinStreet’s development center in Pune, outside of Mumbai. He is pleased to report that the Pune team no longer requires his direct supervision for day-to-day operations. Rakesh holds a MS in Computer Science from Stanford and BE from the University of Mysore in India.

Accelerance CEO Steve Mezak has more than 25 years of software development experience and is a veteran of six Silicon Valley startups. He has served in a variety of management and technical roles, including CTO and CEO. Steve is also an internationally acclaimed speaker and author. His most recent book is Software Without Borders: A Step-By-Step Guide to Outsourcing Your Software Development. Steve holds a BS Degree in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he now serves as an advisor to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Dmytry Mykhaylov is a software engineer and project manager who has been working on geographically distributed projects for over 6 years. As a project manager he specializes in helping small to mid-sized projects in the Bay Area effectively incorporate offshore engineering talent. Dmytry firmly believes that an agile approach to project organization on all sides of a distributed team is key to a project’s success and profitability.

Chris Sims, founder of the Technical Management Institute, will moderated the panel.

Full details and registration can be found here.

Share it!