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tagged: project-management

Sprint Zero: A Good Idea or Not?

In my previous post, I wrote about alternatives to numbering sprints. In this post I want to deal with a very special number that some teams use in numbering their sprints--zero.

The concept of a "sprint zero" has become popular with some teams and so it is important to consider whether or not this is a good idea.

First, let's agree on the basic premise of "sprint zero."…

Check In, Don’t Check Up

I've never been a micro-manager, especially not since using agile and Scrum. I could have turned into a micro-manager early in career, except I've always been too busy to spend my time checking up on people. But, while I've avoiding checking up on teams or people, I've never been reluctant to check in with them. I was recently reminded of this by reading an article about the…

Points Are About Relative Effort Not Ranking

I'm thinking of buying a new car. So I've put together a list of cars to consider. Here they are in priority order:

  • Bugatti Veyron Super Sports
  • Pagani Zonda Clinque Roadster
  • Lamborghini Reventon
  • McLaren F1
  • Koenigsegg CCX
  • Porsche Carrera GT
  • Aston Martin Vanquish
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota Camry
  • Tata Nano

Unfortunately, though, I'm not sure I can afford my top priority…

Recommendations, Not Rules

I seem to be encountering more and more people who want to codify agile into a set of rules. I've seen this lately in authors of books, blogs or PDFs about agile or Scrum that say "You must do this" or "If you don't do this or all of that then you're not doing it right." Over the last few months I also encountered this in conversations with a few Project Management Offices…

Scrum Alliance & PMI: A Day at the Museum

Because I'm a board member and a founder of the Scrum Alliance, I am often asked what I think about the new agile certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). A recent trip to New York City helped clarify my thinking on this.

I was in New York with my wife and daughters for spring break and doing the tourist thing. I'd live in NYC for a couple of years in the…

Remove Finish-to-Start Activities on Agile Projects

When it comes to agile projects, one element of agile project management that is difficult for teams to master is how to overlap their work. If a team doesn’t learn effective ways to do this, team members may settle on a less desirable approach: activity-specific sprints. An activity-specific sprint is as bad a practice as it would be an acronym. In this approach, the team…

Build Trust Between Teams with Ambassadors

Distributed teams are a fact of life for many agile projects and are a particularly difficult agile project management challenge. The reality is that even when teams cannot be collocated, individual team members need to meet each other face to face. If the whole team cannot get together, one or two members from each team, at least, should spend time visiting team members in…

Synchronize Rather Than Overlap Sprints

Today I want to discuss synchronized iterations and why they work best on multi-team projects. Managing dependencies among multiple teams is a difficult agile project management challenge. On my first Scrum project, we started with only one team. That project soon grew to three teams, with the typical dependencies between them. I quickly arrived at what I thought would be a…

Setting and Managing Expectations

In 1994 I managed a team that delivered a project that any outsider or any project team member would have considered a success. The product represented a great leap forward for the company. It included far more features than the product that was being replaced, was built using new state-of-the-art technologies with which the company had no prior experience, and included the…

Cultivate Communities of Practice

On a multi-team project, it is possible for individuals to become isolated, speaking mostly to others on their individual teams. Good ideas are slow to propagate across the organization. Similar functionality is implemented differently by different teams. We put scrum of scrums meetings in place to reduce the impact of some of these problems, but those only go so far. An…

How Do You Get from Here to Agile? Iterate.

Historically, when an organization needed to change, it undertook a “change program.” The change was designed, had an identifiable beginning and ending, and was imposed from above. This worked well in an era when change was necessary only once every few years. But in today’s fast-paced, ever changing environment, it makes more sense to create agile organizations, ready to…

Four Attributes of the Ideal Pilot Project

Selecting the right project as a pilot can be challenging. Jeff Honious, vice president in charge of innovation at Reed Elsevier, led his company’s transition to Scrum. He and colleague Jonathan Clark wrote of their struggle to select the right pilot.

Finding the right project was the most critical and challenging task. We needed a meaty project that people would not dismiss…

The Ideal Agile Workspace

As you may now, I am working on a new book, which will be called Succeeding with Agile. I recently finished writing a chapter for it on the impact of the human resources and facilities groups on an organization that is transitioning to an Agile project management approach. While writing that chapter, I put together a list of all the things that I think should be visible within…

Why There Should Not Be a “Release Backlog”

I haven't heard the term "release backlog" in many months, but it's come up in three conversations over the past week. So, I want to share my thoughts on whether a team using an Agile project management approach should have a backlog known as a release in addition to the conventional Product and Sprint (or Iteration) Backlogs.

First, let's clarify what people mean when they…

Is It a Good Idea to Establish a Common Baseline for Story Points?

In a previous post, I wrote about how to establish a common baseline for story points across relatively large teams (a few hundred developers). In this post I want to consider whether doing so is a good idea. The need for a common baseline to story points usually arises from the reasonable desire to know how big the entire project is. To know that, we must know the size of the…

Visualizing a Large Product Backlog With a Treemap

In the early days we promoted agile project management only for small teams because that was where it originated. We had plenty of experience to say that agile worked well on seven- to 10-person teams. We were also quick to learn the techniques that allowed agile project management methodologies to scale up to around 20 to 40 people. These days, though, there are many truly…


The selection of a new Scrum team’s ScrumMaster can impact the success or failure of the team's Scrum adoption. Choose the wrong person and the team could face the uphill struggle of trying to become self-organizing while under the thumb of a command-and-control style manager. Choose the right person—matching the skills of the new ScrumMaster with the initial needs of the team—and the team will have an incredible headstart in adopting Scrum.

Estimating With Use Case Points

Too much work goes into use cases to not employ them to their full potential. By assigning points to use cases you can reliably measure the size of an application and derive an estimated duration for a project. Read this article to find out more.