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New Post 6/28/2012 5:36 PM
User is offline Springbok
2 posts
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Agile - Tracking progress 

Hi all,

I'm a BA with a Waterfall background and quite new to the Agile methodology. The concern we are having here is about tracking the progress and completeness of what we are speccing and developing. As we decompose epics and larger stories into smaller bite-size stories there is a concern that:

1. We are not covering everything and

2. We are not able to easily track the progress of how we are performing against the larger project plan.

Any tips or explanations that any one can offer?

Cheers

 
New Post 6/29/2012 11:27 AM
User is offline Anthony Chen
63 posts
8th Level Poster


Re: Agile - Tracking progress 

 the burndown chart is the single most effective way to track an agile project. 

You can search our blog for "burndown" and we have a few posts on it as it relates to requirements

 

http://requirements.seilevel.com/blog/tag/burndown

Make a list of the tasks you have, estimate how much time it will take to do them

 

EVERY DAY, re estimate how much time is left on the tasks you are working on. Do not worry about how much time you spent, only how much time is left.

Use a 5 day moving average (or 3 day or one day or what you want it to be) of how many "points" you are completing each day. Use that average to forecast when you will be done. For example if you have 1000 estimated hours (points) and your 5 day average is 10 points per day, then you will forecast finishing in 100 days. You will have days where you start with 12 points (estimated hours) and you work 8 hours and still have 12 points left. Your velocity was zero. This can become an instant flag for a project manager to triage.

This all assumes that there are no long pole tasks and that there is no elapsed time or timing between tasks. Even with these caveats we have found burndowns to be extremely effective and accurate in monitoring and controlling a project.

Each day we have a 15 minute meeting to go over how many points are left and how many points people consumed in the prior day. For example this morning 2 people only consumed 7 points (hours) between them. They should have consumed 16 (2 people at 8 hours each). I asked them why the velocity was low and that immediately went into their challenges. 

I can explain more if this isnt clear.

 
New Post 6/29/2012 3:11 PM
User is offline Tony Markos
493 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: Agile - Tracking progress 

Hi:

One  key question is this:  When you are partitioniing your system (i.e., dividing it up on a given level of your decompostion), what is guiding you to ensure you have flushed out all essential processes/tasks?   What, in your technique, actually tells you that you are done?

Business systems tend to be complex requiring a litmus test of completedness, else, soon alot get missed.  Only  data flow diagrams offer a litmus test of completedness.   With them, when data flows come from nowhere or go to nowhere, or when there is a process or task (same as a story)  that has the wrong inputs or outputs, it glaringly sticks out, and is a strong red flag that something is amiss - that you are missing stuff. 

DFD's offer such even when used in a very Agile fashion (remember, Agile is not only about minimal documentation, it is about quality documentation.)

And, by the way, once you have a quality decomposition down to the necessary level of detail level, you will find that tracking progress to the larger plan is straight forward.

Conversly, Stories offer no such litmus test of completedness.  

Then there is the whole matter that stories offer only a forced, artificial partitioning, more comonly referred to as "sledge hammer partitioning".   (You can partition an entity with a sledge hammer, but, the result is not very easy to deal with.)  

The moral of the story is this, and it is something that, for some reason, the experts and guidebooks will not tell you: Don't try to use a weak technique when strength is required.

Tony

 

 

 

 
New Post 7/1/2012 6:57 PM
User is offline Springbok
2 posts
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Re: Agile - Tracking progress 

Thanks for this. A couple of things to think about here.

 

Cheers

 
New Post 7/16/2012 3:35 PM
User is offline dldelancey
61 posts
8th Level Poster


Re: Agile - Tracking progress 

Responding a bit late to add that you need to accept a couple of things about agile.  First, the uncomfortable feeling you're describing is to be expected.  Even with seasoned agile teams, on a new project the first couple of sprints is characterized by this while everyone is settling in.  Second, you will not cover everything.  The beauty of agile is that it allows you to recover (more) easily from not covering everything.  When you come across something you missed, add it to the backlog and work it. 

 
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