Simple, But Not Easy: Agile Advice for Beginners
Some common problems:
- Unending backlogs that are hard to visualize and prioritize
- Definitions of done that don't include testing & deployment
- 20 page requirements documents for one user story
- Incorrectly assuming that agile means 'no planning'
- Planning at the task level vs. the story level
- Testing after development is done rather than throughout the project.
- Out of control scope
- Out of control change management
- Never ending projects
- Significant quality issues
If you are beginning your agile journey then welcome to the club! It can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. But please, please, don't start without gaining some knowledge first. The agile community has a good head start on you and can help you through some initial hurdles to make your 'simple' journey a little easier. Please do read some articles and books, listen to podcasts etc, but your best learning will come from interactions and conversations with others who are further along the journey. Here are two important pieces of advice for you:
1) Find your local user group and support it with your attendance. Bring real questions and ask the group to help you find some answers. If you are in Winnipeg, visit www.agilewinnipeg.com. If you are elsewhere, consult the Agile Alliance's list of local user groups.
2) Attend conferences. Many of the successful agile teams I know point to ideas and practices they learned at conferences as crucial steps in their organization's agile journey. But don't expect to only 'attend' sessions - plan to interact with the audience and speakers during the sessions and also over lunch, dinner, drinks, or even indoor sky diving. There are several great conferences you can attend, but I'll highlight one in my region - PrairieDeveloper Conference in Calgary, Alberta from March 12-15. Regardless of your location, this is a can't miss conference with 80 sessions + full day workshops. See you there?
To paraphrase Mike Cohn, the agile community has helped me up my game - now up yours.
* P.S. Prairie Developer Conference is more than just agile of course, bring your whole team, your IT pros, your managers, etc.
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