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Principles to Increase Agile Project Success [#AgilePrinciples #AgileProject #ProjectSuccess]

1. Dedicated, Focused and Competent Team
2. Collocation
3. Automated Testing
4. Defining ‘Done’
5. Clear Vision and Product Roadmap
6. Empowerment of the Product Owner
7. Management Support

1. Dedicated, Focused and Competent Team
An Agile project plan is nothing more than a piece of paper if it is not backed by a dedicated, focused and competent team.

For best results, the entire team, including the Scrum Master and Product Owner should run one project at a time.

This is particularly important at the start of the project as this is where the foundational elements are established and will determine the direction of the project. This is also where the entire team is getting themselves familiar with Agile principles especially for the sake of team members who may not have been previously involved in an Agile project.

If team members are engaged in multiple projects at a given time, the quality of execution will suffer.

2. Collocation
Collocating Agile project team members is a vital building block for direct, effective and clear communication.

Collocation is a critical component of an Agile system. Getting the interaction between team members right from the get-go delivers greater working functionality, customer collaboration and response to change.

3. Automated Testing
Manual testing is tolerable for small development projects where there is little to do. But the average project today is quite complex, comprises of several moving parts and must be delivered as quickly as possible.

In this context of fast-changing market and technology conditions, manual testing is not practical. Worse still, Agile project management calls for continuous testing.

You cannot keep up with timelines and milestones if each time the testing has to be done manually. Automating the testing not only improves the speed but also the consistency and the predictability.

4. Defining ‘Done’
Ending a Sprint without a shippable functionality falls under an anti-pattern toward effective Agile project management. This can be avoided by having a clear and enforced Definition of Done.

The definition should specify the environment the functionality is to integrated with, the types of testing required and the nature of documentation.

But defining Done is not enough. It must be enforced by the Scrum team. If the Scrum team flags some work as Done but it is later realized that the requirements of Done were not actually met, the pending work will have to be added to a subsequent Sprint. This takes away time, resources and manpower from new work.

5. Clear Vision and Product Roadmap
The Product Owner is the official custodian of the product vision and roadmap. Ensuring the clarity and realization of these artifacts is the responsibility of a wider spectrum of stakeholders.

Product Owners must engage every interested party from the start, beginning with the Agile project plan and up to the point the product is finally delivered. This ensures the vision, roadmap, and end-product is representative of market and customer needs.

Without a clear and well-thought-out purpose, the project will lack ownership, lose direction and eventually fail to realize its objectives.

6. Empowerment of the Product Owner
The primary role of the Product Owner is to work with the Development Team in order to optimize the value of the end product.

To do this, they must be knowledgeable about the market, customer, and product. They have to be reachable whenever the Development Team needs their input. They must have the authority to issue priority decisions and provide clarification quickly.

Development teams should not be kept waiting for a response or decision as this could jeopardize the achievement of project milestones.

Whereas every role in a Scrum Team is crucial, the Product Owner is arguably the most pivotal to project success.

An ineffective Product Owner is a sure path to Agile project plan failure.

7. Management Support
When an organization goes Agile, the mindset of its topmost executives must change accordingly.

Often, senior management will carry over a traditional viewpoint into their oversight of an Agile project. This is a recipe for conflict, frustration, and mediocre outcomes.

From the start, top management must be cognizant that Agile is a constant learning process. They should not expect the benefits to be realized in the first Sprint.

If management is not accommodative, this sentiment will trickle down to the Scrum Team, dampen team morale and paralyze low-level decision-making.

Adapted from:
The 7 Vital Ingredients for Agile Project Plan Success:
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