Saturday, December 4, 2010

Methodology Selection: Project Management (Part 2)

Previously we discussed 5 questions to ask when determining if a project will be successful when using an agile project management methodology like SCRUM.  Here are some additional questions to ask.

6)    Project Scope and Requirements: How well defined are the requirements and scope of the project?

If the scope and high-level requirements of the project are extremely well defined, you may want to think about a waterfall methodology approach.  However, if these critical aspects of the project are not well defined, an agile project management approach will work well.  This is because an agile approach allows the team to develop small increments of work based on small batches of requirements that can be defined as the project life cycle progresses.  Additionally, the business analyst can be working of requirements for sprint # 2 while the developers are completing design and development tasks from sprint # 1.  This creates a rolling sprint approach that promotes team self-direction and quick releases of the product.

7)      Team Composition: Is the team demographics small and cross-functional?

The ideal agile project team consists of a small group of cross-functional members.  For an agile project team to be self directing and successful the team should be 8 to 15 members consisting of the product owner, scrum master, developers, business analysis and testers.  Other functional members may be necessary to maintain corporate certifications such as CMMI.  In this case a quality assurance team member would be responsible for verifying the processes are documented without disrupting the team doing the requirements management and development.

8)      System Integration:  Can the majority of development be completed on a single isolated system?

When determining if a project should use and agile approach, we should consider how the development of the system will impact or be impacted by other integrated systems.  If there are multiple systems that need to be integrated, the development process could be hampered by external teams and external requirements.  For and agile approach the majority of development needs to be conducted on a single isolated system.

9)      Continuous Integration:  Can the project support test-driven development?

Agile project develop small increments of work product and implement those work products rapidly.  This approach creates the need for a critical link between requirements, development and testing.  An agile team should be able to develop initial work packages and refine the product of the work packages based on the test results and changing requirements.  This is also why it is important to have a small cross functional team that is co-located or has the tools to act co-located.

10)    External Dependencies:  Does the project have dependencies on external vendors, project or teams?

The agile project management methodology does not support extensive integration with other systems, projects, vendors, etc. because of the rapid pace of development and testing.  Extensive integration or regression testing can also slow product delivery. So is a project is dependent on the results of an RFP or delivery of hardware or software contracts.  An agile approach may not be the most productive approach to take.

So there it is.  Ten things to consider when determining if an agile project management methodology will support of successful project and product.  Some organizations have created tools to assist the project management teams in determining which project management methodology to use for each project.  An agile approach is not always the best and is no silver bullet.  Each project should be reviewed individually to determine the best approach based on the product, the project team and management support.

In January I will be presenting “Project Angels” to the Kentuckiana Chapter of PMI. And in March I will be presenting “The Great Divide” at CodepaLOUsa.  Hope to see you there.

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