09 April 2020 | Produced by NILC
At this very unusual and difficult time, we at NILC decided to make a light-hearted attempt to discuss Agile Project Management from the Easter Bunny perspective. Firstly, I will outline what a project manager’s role is and the skills needed to fulfil this role. Then we will look at the 4 core Agile values and how the Easter Bunny applied them. Finally we will look at the 12 Agile principles.
What an Agile Project Manager Does
A project manager in an agile environment manages all areas of the project from scope, cost, timeline to overall quality. They liaise with customers, stakeholders and other managers and they are responsible for motivating their team to remain focused. An agile project manager will deal with any team member frustrations that may impede performance. They are also responsible for delegating tasks to individual team members in order to balance the workload and complete each segment of the project on time.
Skills required by a Project Manager
There are six key skills that all project managers should have:
- The ability to cut through unnecessary work and focus only on what is essential
- Sound judgement under pressure and the ability to remain calm under stress
- Strong motivational, supporting and coaching skills
- Exceptional organisational skills
- The ability to think quickly and decisively
- A high level of adaptability so that changes can be made quickly and accordingly so that risk is reduced
Easter Bunny has necessary project management skills
The Easter Bunny had all the skills required to be a good project manager and had been tasked with organising an Easter egg hunt. So, he met with the customer, stakeholders and other managers to prepare a project plan. It might be worth mentioning here that an agile project plan is a little different to the more traditional project management plan such as PRINCE2® in that it is owned by the team because they are the ones who carry out the development and know what the project needs for each phase of that development. So, once created, the Easter Bunny emailed the plan to his team for their comments.
4 Agile Values and how the Easter Bunny applied them
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
The Easter Bunny monitored every member of his team personally, motivating them and supporting them.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
The Easter Bunny made sure his team had the necessary tools for the tasks he had delegated to each member. The plan was simple and every bunny knew what they were doing without him having to print a multitude of complex instructions
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
The Easter Bunny made sure that the customer was happy with each phase of the project and liaised with them on a regular basis.
- Responding to change over following a plan
The Easter Bunny knew that you never know what’s going to happen in an Easter egg hunt, so whilst the initial plan was necessary to get the hunt off the ground, it would not necessarily be followed rigidly. There would be changes made as the project progressed.
Adhere to 12 Agile principles
The Easter Bunny knew that Agile is a mindset and not a set of strict rules, although there are 12 principles to follow. From experience he knew that when you are in the thick of an agile project, it is easy to get swept up in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment. If you forget about the principles, neither team nor project will be successful. So, keeping these principles in mind would mean that he could effectively deliver the project on time (Easter Sunday is Easter Sunday after all!) by keeping his team focused and motivated.
- Customer satisfaction is always the highest priority and is achieved through rapid and continuous delivery.
- Changing environments are embraced at any stage of the process to provide the customer with a competitive advantage.
- The product or service is delivered with higher frequency.
- Stakeholders and developers collaborate daily.
- All stakeholders and team members remain motivated for optimal project outcomes. Teams are provided with all the necessary tools and support and each individual member is trusted to accomplish the goal of the project.
- Face-to-face meetings are deemed the most efficient and effective format for project success.
- A final working product is the ultimate measure of success.
- Sustainable development is accomplished through agile processes whereby development teams and stakeholders maintain a constant and ongoing pace.
- Agility is enhanced through a continuous focus on technical excellence and proper design.
- Simplicity is an essential element.
- Self-organising teams are most likely to develop the best architectures and designs and to meet requirements.
- Regular intervals allow the team/s to improve efficiency through fine-tuning
Change of Plan
The second of the twelve Agile principles states that ‘Changing environments are embraced at any stage of the process’. The Easter Bunny’s original plan was to have a physical Easter egg hunt. However, given the current environment and restrictions brought about by Covid-19, he had to make it an on-line hunt instead. This meant his team had to develop new software and a voucher system whereby the winners could claim their prizes at any supermarket. The changes were easily developed and the software has been tested, but in terms of evaluating the success of the project, we will have to wait until Easter Sunday.