Agile Project Management – Agile Project Management in real Life (Part 3)

Agile Project Management in real Life

The Project:

  • Development of a new web shop
  • Bring this web shop to a new platform to enable further enhancements (old platform was outdated)

The challenges:

  • Very high amount of complex requirements
  • Dependencies to other projects and an overarching IT Strategy Program
  • Special regional processes and requirements
  • New, unknown platform and framework

Why agile:

  • Manage high amount of requirements (incomplete list at start of the project)
    • Start by collecting all requirements on a very high level
    • Refine requirements during the project in order to save time by not writing every detail at the beginning of the project
  • Able to react to decisions from the IT Strategy program and/or other projects
    • The Project had to start earlier than the program, so some program decisions were not made at the beginning of the project
  • No clear “customer” as it was an internal project, but end-users are external customers of the company

The agile setup – how did we handle the challenges:

  • Besides the standard Scrum roles (See our last blog entry: What is Scrum?), additional roles were part of the project


Orange = Business, Green = IT

  • Cross Regional Working Team = Group of colleagues from different Departments act as “customers”
    • Write User Stories
    • Review product and give feedback
    • “Imitate” the end user
  • IT Process Designer as an IT counterpart to the Business Product Owner
    • More technical knowledge
    • Understands and communicates technical problems
    • Also has a very good knowledge about the business processes
    • Better management of the big product backlog, due to technical understanding, prioritization estimation
  • Additional Role “Solution Architect”
    • Knowledge of new implementation framework
    • Sets up development guidelines and general implementation approach
    • Gives first estimation of requirements
    • Better management of the large product backlog, due to technical understanding, prioritization estimation

  • Additional meetings to manage backlog
    • Sprint Planning Preparation
      • Participants: Solution Architect, IT Process Designer and Product Owner
      • Prepare Sprint Planning, define Sprint goal and set a rough scope for the next Sprint
    • Backlog Refinement
      • Participants: Development Team, Solution Architect and IT Process Designer
      • Review high prioritized stories and refine them to a state where they can be implemented
      • Add details to stories and split them up into multiple stories if needed

The experiences:

  • First version of user stories were very unspecific and way too complex to be implemented straight away
    • It was clear from the beginning that stories have to be refined (see “Challenges of the project” – Point 1) – but the effort to get the stories to a point where they can actually be implemented was underestimated
    • Project progress became unclear because the team did not work on actual business user stories, because they were too unspecific and complex, but transferred them into technical stories
  • Stories had to be split up multiple times, overall structure of story clustering and complexity changed multiple times
  • Tools such as JIRA were great to track and manage the backlog and to document and share knowledge within the project team
  • Not everyone has had agile experience
    • Roles were not fully clarified at the beginning, therefore more communication between the roles was needed, to make sure everyone understood his responsibility
    • During the project each role developed and grew based on the experience
    • The roles later on took over responsibility and made decisions where needed

Despite the difficulties especially at the beginning of the project, it is still very well in time. This is caused by the fact that the team always kept working and the project was never unable to go on. Due to the agile nature of the project in time communication and transparency were possible!

This was the third part of our small Series about Agile Project Management. Look out for the next part which we are going to publish soon called “Agile Project Management – Agile on the next Level – Program Management

The whole Series contains 4 pieces:

Agile Project Management – Basics (Part1)

Agile Project Management – What is SCRUM (Part2)

Agile Project Management – Agile Project Management in real Life (Part3)

Agile Project Management – Agile on the next Level – Program Management (Part4)

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