My response for a Project Manager trying to improve the use of Agile

A Project Manager asks me at the end of a class how best to show progress in Agile projects, since phases can’t be checked off complete. My questions for him are: can measures like lead time, throughput, and defect rates be measured across any type of project? What tools are used to track the work from larger goals and initiatives through to smaller stories and tasks? He decided to have the tool vendors used demonstrate full system capabilities, from portfolio management to daily task tracking.

Mike’s predicament
The post Making changes to Project Management during an Agile transition, Mike, a Project Manager, approaches me for advice. Take a look if you like, so that this post makes a little more sense.

After finishing explaining the situation, Mike appears uneasy to receive an answer. Brushing aside the problems with a wave of his hand, he tries to excuse himself. Taking notes the whole time, I study them and ask if he would like to hear my thoughts on the matter. Mike sits back down to listen.

My advice
Regarding budgeting, it almost sounds like a form of incremental funding, except that you’re still betting the house every time. What would it look like if the IT Governance board didn’t pick up the rest of the tab? It’s too bad that Agile isn’t allowed on bigger projects, because you could experiment with a cumulative totals for progress, and would think that you could show those numbers, and money spent before projects are cancelled, no matter what the process. You’ve told me that you’re using a Scrum tool only for the team-level progress, and you should contact them to demonstrate all features.

As for your desire to have only project management track budget because they’re the only ones who know it could be changed by training others who would be interested. Which part of the organization, “the business” or IT, is responsible for bringing in revenue? Which one is a source of expenditures?

I would suggest that those closest to the customer, are closest to the money and have revenue sources fund cost centers. Cost centers are the ones given minimal budget and make the rest through their relationships with revenue centers. This may give way to an organization that enjoys working fast together and responding to customer needs. The rest is considered wasteful activity and should be eradicated.

At the end of it all as a teacher once told me, take whatever you want and let the rest go by. This is the instant reaction of a coach immediately after two days of training, and with little direct knowledge of the situation.

If something like a tool demo is a fast and easy action that could result in having impact, try that. And if you want to keep doing things the way you like, what difference will it make to you what I have to say or what Scrum suggests? I appreciate you willingness to try and hope something I said may help you improve the situation.

Your thoughts
If you’re a coach, how would you respond to the situation? What advice would you give? Have you been in a similar position? Would you like to describe it, or what helped to change it? You should leave a comment if so inspired.

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