Agile project management, the key differentiators

Software project management has evolved in the last decade with the introduction of Agile methodologies like Scrum and XP. People often ask me the difference between traditional project management and Agile project management. Here is what I have discovered while managing Agile projects:

The Team leads the project

In Agile project management, it’s not only the project manager, but the entire software development team that leads the project. Client becomes the ‘product owner’ while the development team takes charge of how things get done.  The project manager acts like a guide post, who keeps both client and the development team in sync while keeping an eye on the shipment dates. To be precise, the Agile project manager becomes an ‘Enabler’.

Velocity takes the front seat

This is one of my favorites.  The project manager no longer needs to stick to the gantt charts to get a grasp of project progress. Velocity provides a much more powerful insight into team’s performance. With every iteration, an Agile project manager knows his team’s velocity and can adjust resources for the next iteration accordingly.

Planning is not a one time job

In traditional project management, the project plan is written as if things will work the way they are planned. On the contrary, in Agile project management, planning is much more frequent and lot more realistic. In the beginning of the project, there is story planning; then sprints are planned and in every sprint there are iterations where things get prioritized. Not only the project manager but everyone including the client and development team gets involved in planning.

Agile project management is about dynamic communication

If communication is an art; an Agile project manager has to be the master artist. The communication of an Agile project manager constantly bridges gaps between the client and the development team.  Recent I read this somewhere –  “It is better to over-communicate than not to communicate”. In Agile project management, this is the ‘rule of thumb’.

End value matters, not the end result!

Sounds surprising, but it is true. Agile project management is  focused towards end value rather than the end result. An Agile project manager has no control over the end result because of the fact that Agile projects are adaptive in nature. Nobody can prodict the end result, not even the client.  After all, it is the end value that customer gets that really matters…isn’t it?

Agile project management is a discipline which will evolve a whole new breed of ‘next generation’ project managers who are ready to adopt, learn and lead software projects like truly visionary leaders.

What are your experiences/views on Agile project management?

Advertisements

Web and the art of story telling

Do you love stories?  I think most of us would say yes!

We go and watch a movie.  Most of us enjoy video games, even reading newspaper..it is full of stories…We always love to get engaged in a story, be  it  real or  virtual.

In recent times, a similar phenomena has occurred on the web. Modern web applications are re-defining the way people use software. Many call it ‘Web 2.0’, but to me it is ‘The art of story telling’ .

Recently I bumped in to Mint.com. It is simply amazing how this product catches one’s imagination. There are some great ideas presented in a beautiful way. Being in this business myself, I tend to look at finer aspects of the product rather than the most obvious ones. For instance, a simple interface for recovering lost password is done just the way a story is told. Take a look at the screen-shot below:

Screensot from mint.comThe screen says ‘Let’s get started!’. These words portrays enthusiasm in a relatively difficult situation : ‘someone losing his password’. That’s a fine example of the ‘Art of story telling’. It’s not just about providing a great user experience, but also about ‘being responsible’ for it.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Mint.com – Simply awesome tool to manage money
  2. Basecamp – Shows how a web-based collaboration tool can work like your own physical diary (and not like a software).
  3. Groupon – Very exciting and lively, just what  group buying website should be
  4. Pivotal Tracker – Our very own agile collaboration tool…can’t live without it!

There are a few more and its obvious, this is an elite list. So what’s your favorite? Do tell me your ideas on the art of story telling…