Tips for the first agile project

Agile project management is no longer a trend, but has long since become part of the daily routine of many project managers. It is a kind of reinvention of project management, which has arisen from the need to adapt to modern conditions, changing customer requirements and ever faster developments in technology and communication. The special thing about agile methods like Scrum is that they are very flexible and every project manager can use them in his or her own way to be adapted to his or her specific project. But this is also a challenge especially for project managers who are dealing with an agile managed project for the first time. So how do you approach your first Scrum project?
Man looking at a Kanban board.

Mastering your first Scrum project

Many project managers say that Scrum is like dancing. Imagine you have been waltzing for 20 years and suddenly you are supposed to dance Salsa. In theory this is no problem at all, because you can dance perfectly well. You have a lot of experience. But the way of dancing has changed, which is a problem for many people. It is similar with the introduction of Scrum. The theory is largely clear, but the implementation of the Srcum methods is then still exciting for the whole team. On the one hand, reacting to the unexpected and adapting methods to new circumstances and requirements is an integral part of agile management. On the other hand, the new methods are new and therefore represent a challenge. One of the enormous advantages and challenges of Scrum is that there are very few specifications. Scrum is flexible and has to be adapted constantly. So get involved!

Well prepared is half won

Preparing yourself theoretically is easy. Most project managers know agile project management and Scrum by now, have attended seminars and read professional articles. In order to prepare yourself practically, the best method is to throw yourself into the project together with your team. Keep your knowledge in mind and meet with your project team for a first appointment. Explain to everyone that this is a project with Scrum and conduct a short Scrum training at this appointment. For such a training it is a good idea to hire a Scrum Trainer who can conduct short trainings. You can then prepare specifically for the upcoming project. After this appointment the basic knowledge about Scrum methods should be present to everyone. The next appointment is about applying these methods to the specific project. A tip: For the first Scrum project it is easier if it is a smaller project, which may not have too strict time limits. Maybe you can practice on an internal project before you are let loose on the really big projects. It is usually easier to introduce Scrum in a project team even if the team already knows each other, or at least large parts of the team.

Role allocation and implementation of the project

The distribution of roles is one of the first steps in Scrum. A short digression: There are three central roles in Scrum management. These are Product Owner, Scrum Master and the development team. Each of these roles has its own function in management with very specific responsibilities and tasks. If we succeed in creating a well-established harmony between these roles, the project is already very promising. Despite flexible methods, Scrum has rules. One of them is the division of roles in the project team. The Project Owner has the task of knowing the requirements coming from the customer, users and other stakeholders on the one hand and implementing them on the other. He must represent the interests of the customer and the project goals. The Scrum Master has the task of moderating. He makes sure that all rules are adhered to, that the necessary resources are made available and distributed sensibly and mediates between all team members. The Scrum Master prepares decisions, but does not make them alone. The development team can consist of two to ten people and in Scrum it is their task to form an interdisciplinary team. Each member of the team is assigned a competence area. This also happens in the first joint Scrum session.

Define goals and methods

Now it is a matter of jointly determining the test strategies and above all defining the done, i.e. the project goal. Whoever is a Poduct Owner must have the necessary decision-making powers or even the necessary contacts to bring about decisions. An important tip: It must be very clear in the team who has what competencies and what expertise. With a well-rehearsed team, this is of course already done. Everyone knows how to work together. With newly formed teams, the distribution of competence centres often has the odd surprise effect and thus also creates respect among the team members. The size of the project team depends on the size of the project, of course, but for most projects a number of seven has proven to be ideal. More quickly becomes confusing. Less is often not enough. Which tool you use in your first Scrum project is almost irrelevant. Preferably one that you already know, so that no new element comes up that everyone has to worry about.
Author: IAPM intern

Keywords: Agile Project Management, Scrum, Training

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