Guidance on Project Documentation in Agile Projects

While searching for agile project examples, I discovered a white paper published by Fergal Mc. Govern, CEO and founder of Visible Thread, who found that IT Directors, Project Managers and Business Analyst Team Leads raised the question about the Project Documentation across a portfolio of projects. Fergal Mc. Govern explicitly describes how to apply agile documentation along with traditional presenting a blend of traditional and agile projects.

www.visiblethread.com/wp-content/uploads/Lean-Documentation-Blending-Traditional-and-Agile-Project-Documentation.pdf

Going Agile – What does it mean?

 If you need to decide how to proceed in a project the book “Going Agile – Project Management Practices” starts with a guidance on if and how to move over to an agile methodology. The first two chapters explain what it means, what changes, for which projects agile practices are applicable. Even more the benefits or failures are plausibly illustrated through many survey results and business cases. The book explains in detail how to lead over to agile project practices. Furthermore, there are choices between, agile – versus – traditional methodologies, making traditional projects agile, de-risking agile projects, or selecting the right agile methodology.

Agile ←→ Traditional

What does it mean?

With Agile methodologies there is a continuous cycle of inspecting the process for correct output and operations adapting the process as needed. There are more than 12 agile methodologies.”

How?

  • It requires a new leadership style from bottom and trust from top of the organization
  • It requires partnerschips and strong collaboration
  • Shared metrix requires a complete change of mindset

What does it mean?

According to Lindvall et al. (2002), „plan-driven methods are those in which work begins with the elicitation and documentation of a „complete“ set of requirements, followed by architectural and high-level design development and inspection.

Waterfall and spiral methodologies are plan-driven methods (or traditional methodologies)

For which projects is it applicable?

Agile… if

  • Project details cannot be specified in advance
  • Project details cannot be agreed upfront
  • There is a lack of accuracy
  • Projects have a certain degree of uncertainty
  • you can neither specify the product details in advance nor agree upon these details with any degree of accuracy
  • Conditions that require a collaborative user-developer environment
Traditional …. if

  • It is possible to collect a complete set of requirements upfront
  • There is a high degree of certainty and agreement on the issue and apply a plan-driven methodology or a defined control process.
Benefits ←→ Failures
What are the benefits of „going agile“? Survey results illustrate benefits of agile
Agile processes are recommended within the top ten success factors for projects (Chaos Report of The Standish Group 2012)Through the following improvements:

  • Ability to respond to change
  • Employee engagement and job satisfaction
  • Faster time-to-market
  • Customer and stakeholder satisfaction
  • And other improvements over traditional projects.

Agile projects benefit directly performance, output and outcome, indirectly organizational impacts:

  • better time and cost performance,
  • more productive,
  • higher quality product
  • reduce risk

The result is higher ROI and stakeholder value.

(survey and study examples of PMI 2012, Scott Ambler 2011, the Cutter Consortium 2008, VersionOne 2012, Microsoft 2006, Salesforce 2007, Dr. David F. Rico 2008)

In general a project never delivering a solution fails.Agile projects do not fail more than others.
Reasons for agile project failures:

  • Lack of user input and incomplete or changing requirements and specifications .
  • Inadequate experience with agile methods
  • Little understanding of broader organizational change required
  • Company philosophy odds with agile valuesMost problems occur due to perceived lack of management engagement or understanding of agile practices.

 

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