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Archive for the ‘Agile & Scrum Templates’ Category

How Agile Are You? (The Survey!)

Posted by Tara Hamilton-Whitaker on August 1, 2009

how-agile-are-youAs Kelly Waters explained in his recent blog post about Agile101, one of our challenges as a management team has been Agile Programme Management i.e how to manage an overall portfolio of work when all of the teams are doing Agile.

One of the seven principles of Programme Management is “Learning from Experience”, a principle that sits at the heart of the Agile manifesto.  Agile teams use Retrospectives to discuss ‘the following points:

  1. What went well in the previous sprint?
  2. What went badly in the previous sprint?
  3. What will we do differently next time?

I originally learned of the original How Agile Are You survey when Kelly joined our company in late 2008. Kelly was inspired by Nokia measuring the Agility of their teams via a 9 criteria assessment so he took this concept one step further… actually he took it 33 steps further and introduced a 42 point criteria – Read these points and download the survey template (it also allows you to plot team results on a graph).

These 42 questions range from “is the team empowered to make decisions” to “automated unit testing is implemented where appropriate”.

We started off by asking every member of the department to complete the survey. I then collated the results and ranked each criteria by perceived level of compliance i.e. there were a couple of criteria that everyone felt we complied with but opinion was divided in the majority of cases (to varying degrees).  In a few instances, there was a unanimous agreement that we did not meet the criteria. Interesting.

We then used the survey results to drive our monthly Programme Level Retrospectives for a time. This helped to add focus to the sessions – we knew where we were under performing and we had a very clear idea for where we wanted to be.

Every month, we reviewed the results and discussed our performance in the five lowest-ranking areas. We brainstormed ways to improve this performance and shared notes on the progress we were making. After this session, each team would choose one or more criteria to focus on over the coming month.  They also committed to a number of objectives that we would use to measure their success in the following Retrospective. Each team made different commitments – it was up to them where they wanted to focus.

After a few months, we saw a huge improvement in our adoption of Agile working practices and of the team’s understanding of Agile in general. It was a great learning experience.

Here’s a template you can use to calculate how Agile you areOnce you’ve taken the survey, record your result via the poll below – let’s see how we all do! No cheating :)

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Download How Agile Are You Survey

Download How Agile Are You Survey






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Scrum Product Backlog Template (with Priority Overview)

Posted by Tara Hamilton-Whitaker on July 29, 2009

Scrum Product Backlog

Scrum Product Backlog

Product Backlog is a list of top-level requirements that are usually associated with a single Project or Product.

With that said, there is no reason why you can not use a Product Backlog to store requirements associated with multiple projects and products. You would in this case want to add an extra column or two into your product backlog to allow you to filter by Product or a particular Theme/Epic.

A product backlog will contain a range of requirements:

As products rise to the top of the product backlog i.e. become higher priority, the Product Manager will work with the team to break Themes and Epics into User Stories.

Once broken down into User Stories, the Team will provide delivery estimations and commit to delivering a number of these stories (in line with pre-defined priorities) in the following sprint.

The Product Manager will then begin to define, prioritise and add additional User Stories to the backlog in preparation for the next sprint – this might include new requirements or changes emerging from the previous sprint.

The primary objective of the Product Manager is to deliver value. At a project-level, this value needs to be front-loaded into the development schedule – a side-benefit of this might be a self-funding project scenario. In a product development environment i.e. ongoing development, the value needs to be packed into each sprint.

This Product Backlog template provides the following tools:

  • Assign stories to sprints (release plan)
  • Calculate the number of releases required to deliver your backlog based on your velocity
  • Calculates how many sprints you can afford to deliver based on your project budget
  • Plots your user stories on a chart based on Effort vs. Value
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    Product Backlog Template with Priority Overview.xls

    Scrum Product Backlog Template with Priority Overview

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    Agile Risk Management for Projects and Programmes

    Posted by Tara Hamilton-Whitaker on July 27, 2009


    A Risk is an uncertain event that will impact your chosen path should it be realised. Risks are events that are not currently affecting you – they haven’t happened yet.  Once a risk is realised, it has the potential to become an Issue(s).

    The following activities are more traditionally carried out by a Project Manager.  In Agile working environments, the responsibility for risk management is shared by all involved.

    The old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ comes to mind. In Agile Software Development environments, we accept that projects are ridden with complexity and uncertainty.

    By promoting communication, distributing the responsibility of risk identification/mitigation and enabling ourselves to respond quickly to change, we are fundamentally better equipt to dealing with Risk than more traditional environments.

    With that said, there don’t seem to be any official guidelines on how to manage risks within an Agile environment, so I’ll combine my personal views with notes and ideas I’ve found scattered around the web.

    The articles below provide an overview of Risk Management within an Agile context and take you through the four key stages of the Agile Risk Management Lifecycle.


    P.S. If you’ve got any other good Agile Risk Management links feel free to post them in the comments below. :)

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    Other interesting articles on Agile Risk Management:

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