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Agile metrics, tools and processes: Tenets for the project manager

What are the basic tenets or practices in Agile project management?

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If Agile project managers are transitioning from a traditional project management role, the first thing they probably need to understand is the differences between the two approaches. One primary difference is that in a traditional Waterfall approach, requirements are managed very rigidly and any change to requirements is viewed as "scope creep" and to be avoided at all costs. In Agile project management, short iterations are used in which code is developed and business users review the completed features. Business users are encouraged to continue to refine requirements and prioritize features throughout the development cycle, and are a critical part of the team. As such, changes to requirements are expected and embraced, but need to be managed appropriately so that there isn't confusion.

Besides understanding the basic ideas of stronger collaboration and servant leadership, Agile project managers also need to understand the processes and tools the team uses. If the team is using Scrum, the project manager might become the "Scrum Master" and should attend Scrum Master training. Even if project managers are not Scrum Masters, it's important for them to understand Scrum, if that's the framework the team is using. They need to understand the team's terminology and the tools being used to track progress and record metrics.

Understanding the use of Agile metrics such as velocity and burndown are important, but there are other metrics that may not be familiar to the new Agile project manager that are worth exploring. Beyond burndowns: Metrics for enterprise Agile by Howard Deiner is a good article to start with. By becoming familiar with the tools the team is employing, the Agile project manager will be able to take advantage of the reports that come with the tools that help provide transparency of team status.

This was first published in August 2012

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