Are we driving a CAR with 3 Mercedes tyres and 1 bi-cycle tyre?

Are we driving  a CAR with 3 Mercedes tyres and 1 bi-cycle tyre?

Sounds interesting as a title of my new blog.

But have we realized this happens every day in our working career. What does this mean? Why are we saying this in this manner? By the way who is the bi-cycle tyre? Oh man too many things at the same time.

A number of organization start to implement Agile and related practices, without realizing why they want to adopt agile, what are the potential benefits of the system, Is Agile really going to work for them, or it is just a new buzz word in the industry that one should be adopting. I recollect not so long ago, I had an opportunity to provide consulting for Agile implementation. On day 1 when I met the sponsor of the initiative to understand the need for agile to be implemented, I got a very strange answer … “When every one on the street is doing agile, we also need to be on the same band wagon”. It was a major set back for me, before it dawned to me, that is the real world for you.

So many projects, so much mismanagement. Indeed, even with project management software, IT projects often wind up taking longer (much longer) than planned and costing more than budgeted.

Why do good projects go bad? Here is the  list of  Common Agile Project Management Mistakes — along with ways to avoid these often time-consuming and potentially costly problems

Not Assigning the Right Person to perform the role of ScrumMaster. “Typically during resource allocation, most of the effort is focused on finding the right resources other than finding the right Scrum Master. Indeed, too often “Scrum Master”  get picked based on availability, not necessarily on skill set.” However, an inadequately trained and/or inexperienced Scrum Master can doom a project.

Failing to Get Everyone on the Team Behind the Project. Too often, projects are doomed to fail because they didn’t get enough support from the departments and people affected by and involved in the project.

Either Scrum Masters:

  • Didn’t make clear what everyone’s role was.
  • Didn’t describe the personal payoff everyone would get when the project was completed successfully.
  • Didn’t tell how team’s contributions to the project would be evaluated.
  • And/or failed to generate a sense of urgency about the project, leading the team to think business as usual will be fine (meaning the old method of traditional project management)

Putting Too Many cooks at the same time:. “Most managers think that they can get more done by having a lot people in the project at the later date, but in reality, it’s counterproductive,” “Multitasking slows people down, hurts quality and, worst of all, the delays caused by multitasking cascade and multiply through the organization as people further down the line wait for others to finish prerequisite tasks.” When the plans are made, the management would never ever provide all the right resources to the project, Interestingly my observation is that they apply divide by 2 theory and at the dying moments of the project, extra resources would be added to create more confusion and chaos. Not sure why this standard theory is working across the globe always in majority of the projects

Lack of (Regular) Communication/Meetings. “Communication is the most important factor of successful project management, “Without regularly and clearly communicating, the project will fall apart.”. Infact the very manifesto of agile states that communication is the most important factor for project success
Not Being Specific Enough with the Scope/Allowing the Scope to Frequently Change. “Any project that doesn’t have an ultra-clear goal is doomed, scope change is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to your project. If not handled properly it can lead to cost and time overrun.” Even something small, like changing the colour of a logo or adding a page to a website might cause unexpected delays. One should always be worried why this element is happening in Agile projects, where the change is to be welcomed, The problem as I see is that the management is not aware of the Agile principles and lifecycle approach.

Providing Aggressive/Overly Optimistic Timelines. “The intentions are noble, as Team and SM often trying to keep their clients happy, but missing deadline after deadline will only lead to distrust and aggravation on the part of your client.” Not sure as to why Sr. Mgmt would provide these timelines to the customers and clients, when the team is supposed to do the work, The team is never taken into confidence when projecting the timelines. Are we doing estimates just to satisfy the requirements of ISO / CMMI audits / appraisals
Not Being Flexible. While you may think of your project plan as your bible, “telling you what needs to be done, by whom, and when to do it to get to your goal…don’t hesitate to listen to new information and suggestions that come up along the way, It’s good at various intervals to step back and take a fresh look at the overall project, review how things have gone so far, and how you can improve your future work based on what’s already changed along the way, just be open to suggestions if they help the project. This is the place where the retrospective of the agile projects would perfectly fit in. They need to be practices and implemented in true sprit of the game, rather than just pay a lip service.

Not Having a System in Place for Approving and Tracking Changes. “Often, success or failure of a project hinges on the changes that occur after it begins, However, all too often, there is no system in place for approving and tracking changes. Having a clear process that must be followed is the best way to ensure the pertinent details — how much it will cost, why it is necessary, the impact on the overall project — are known before the change is approved. It’s also extremely effective for auditing performance during and after project completion.”

Micromanaging Projects. “Don’t babysit, It’s very common for budding Scrum Masters to treat their job like an enforcer, policing the project team for progress and updates. Instead of babysitting the project team, let it be known from the start [i.e., the kick-off meeting] that there will be regularly scheduled updates for the duration of the project. This lets your team know that status updates and progress are expected from them weekly and will encourage them to vocalize any issues or delays in advance.” Usage of daily stand up is highly encouraged in this place

Expecting Software to Solve All Your Project Management Issues. “I’ve seen people throw software at problems all too often, and though projects become enumerated and more visible, the underlying process is still broken, What you end up with in that case is a potentially costly piece of software only serving as a checklist of projects in motion without any thought given to advancing each project/milestone effectively. Choose project management software wisely — something all members of the team will be comfortable using. Then make sure to train users properly and set up a system for tracking projects. Above all, don’t let human capital be “overshadowed by the allure of software solutions’!”

Not creating enough awareness at the management level about agile and scrum:  One of the major issues that I have observed is that your respective management would go ahead and provide relevant training to the development team, create scrum masters and so on …. Have they ever thought of themselves getting a little bit of orientation on the agile, Well if your organization is going to embark on the journey of Agile, it is important that you yourself get acquainted with some terms, terminologies of Agile so that you are atleast at some level playing field when you do some discussions with your Scrum teams. This is one area where in I believe that the management could have done a lot more better than what is happening today, infact at times, I believe this could be the root cause of major issues and problems for which the agile implementation is not happening as needed and required in the organization

Is there a common Agile project management mistake I didn’t include? Please leave a comment letting me know, along with the solution.

By now have you realized who is the bi-cycle tyre? If not then …. Keep thinking …. Still not done, drop me an email.

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