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Agile Assessment: Methodology & Framework

Instructor: Stephen Meyer

Stephen has worked as a Project Manager and is PMP certified, as well as certified by the Scrum Alliance.

The approach to managing a project plays a huge role in the project's outcome. Learn the methodology and framework for Agile, an effective and increasingly popular approach to managing projects.

Deciding to Use Agile

Dave manages complex software projects that have quick turnaround times. The projects always involve something new. There is often change that occurs throughout. For projects of this nature, Dave has decided to use Agile, which will allow him to break down complex work into manageable tasks and will help his team adapt to change and produce results in shorter intervals.

Agile is a project methodology that scales project work and timelines into smaller, repetitive cycles that allows for adaptability to change. It is often referred to as Scrum, which is the most popular version of Agile.

If Dave wants to use Agile, he must understand the methodology and framework. This understanding will help him answer the two high-level questions that must be answered for any project. The first question involves the 'what': What is the purpose of the project? The second question involves the 'how': How are we going to accomplish it?

Sprints and User Stories

There are two keys to Agile methodology. This first involves breaking large, complex items into smaller, more manageable pieces. The second is that it is an iterative, or repetitive, process. This applies to the project timeline and the project work.

Typically, projects have a linear timeline, where processes occur in order and each must be complete for the next can begin. In Agile, the project timeline is broken down into smaller, repetitive portions. These portions are cycles known as sprints. A sprint is a set amount of time, typically 2 or 4 weeks, in which the development team works. During each sprint, development and testing occur and, at the end, tangible results are produced. The results of the work are reviewed and feedback is given. Then, a new sprint begins and the process starts again.

The project work is also broken down into smaller portions, known as a user story. User stories focus on user functionality. For example, a user story might say, 'As a customer, I want to be able to create a login for the store's website.' These requirements are only focused on creating a login, rather than the full shopping website. Once the user story is complete, including development and testing, a customer should be able to successfully create a login for the website. Next, the team might create the pages to display the products for sale, then develop the ability to make a purchase, etc. The key here is that each user story involves development and testing.

This is the appeal for Dave and for anyone who uses Agile. The work is more manageable when broken down. It allows different team members to be fully engaged throughout. The biggest benefit is that as results are produced more quickly, review occurs and feedback is given. The team knows much earlier on if they are on the right track or if adjustments are needed.

Project Roles

The framework for Agile, as in any project methodology, includes elements like project roles and project meetings. In addition to the individuals completing a project, project roles include individuals who initiate a project and provide approval after it is complete.

Agile has three main project roles. The largest role is the development team. This is the group that is responsible for completing the project work.

The second role, is the product owner. The product owner is the single individual responsible for project requirements. The product owner gathers input from stakeholders but has the authority to make final decisions and prioritizes the various aspects of the work for the development team.

The final role, known as the Scrum master, works between the other two roles.. The Scrum master, often a project manager, makes sure the product owner and development team have the same understanding of project requirements. If there are any issues or any questions arise, the Scrum master works to resolve them.

Project Meetings

The various project roles regularly interact in meetings throughout the duration of the project. In Agile, there are three meetings that occur. Two of the meetings bookend each sprint.

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