Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Managing an agile project portfolio. – Part 3

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Coming soon!

Managing an agile project portfolio. – Part 2

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My next focus area is the team model. Especially in the context of distributed software engineering, I have to work with many projects where there are distributed teams involved. So I try to capture some of the key information about the team models used in each project.

Team collaboration model
The team collaboration model can be tightly integrated team member concept with all the locations (working on 1 vertical) , or loosely integrated teams from different locations running scrum of scrum  (working on multiple verticals) or even it can be independent teams in each location. So I would capture the collaboration model based on geography distribution.

Further I would find how many members are involved in each location for each project/team. That will give me a good overview about the developer distribution of the projects across geographies in each project.

Role of Product owner
Do you have a product owner?
In most projects we work with, there is a product owner or owners working with the team. In some of the projects, there are no Product owners and the team owns the product.

Is the product owner role effective?
Better to know. Mostly with offshore development teams, the success of the product is highly dependent on the guidance of the onsite product owner who is closer to the real users of the system and market conditions. I try to get the teams to score this in a scale of 1-5(1 as the least effective and 5 as sufficient). There are many factors we can consider to rate the effectiveness of the PO role. (Ex: prioritization, ownership of the functional requirements, participation for grooming meetings, timely decisions, ownership of the backlog etc.)

Use of Product owner proxies
Not very popular, however not very uncommon either in most offshore-onshore engagements. Better to know which projects of yours use Proxies for distant team members.

Role of Team Lead/Scrum master
Its important to know whether there is a scrum master in each location, each team or whether the scrum master is located in a different location. This needs to be figured out with the team collaboration model as well. However, from the project office perspective, you will know that when you have distant scrum masters in the team, you need more facilitation to the team members in other locations. Its hard for a remote scrum master to feel the pain of his or her team members.

Testers role
Do you have designated testers within each project team?
Do you use any external test teams before releases?

Managing an agile project portfolio. – Part 1

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If your project office is growing with multiple agile projects, its important to have a picture about the different methods and models you use to run various projects across the organization. The days we thought that one process can be applied to all our projects across the project office are long gone. Its required to model the right approach to the right project.

When you are done with the following matrix I explain here, you will be able to have good 1st hand insights about your portfolio. Further, it will help you to spot the projects which need more assistance from your PMO to make them successful.

Following are some of the records I find its important to maintain across the project portfolio to get a glance at all the projects we execute.

 I would list all my project list horizontally and have following questions vertically in my matrix. so I can discuss with all the teams to fill the matrix with proper info.

Agile method used:
What sort of process followed by each project?.. mostly I want to findlout whether the process ‘looks more like’  SCRUM/KANBAN/XP  ( these are the mostly used agile methods across our project organization)

Many would say .. Ok I don’t follow exactly Scrum because we don’t do this this and this.. But its more like Scrum because we do this and this. Fine.  So you can answer the question.

When I glance at the project portfolio I can see many projects use KANBAN specially when they have completed their main development work.

Product Vision
Do you have a proper product vision ?
Are all the key stakeholders in agreement with the product vision?

Of-course 'NO' is an acceptable answer.. still from the project governance perspective its better to know that how many of your teams develop products without knowing why they develop it or where the light of the tunnel is . Various stakeholders may see various different lights and the teams will have total confused situations.  

Do you have a product roadmap
Your vision may be clear. But how about the way to go there? Have you got a high-level product roadmap  in each project.? Or you have no idea about the roadmap at least for few iterations ahead ?
 

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