Thursday, January 18, 2007


There are different methods for project management besides the "Project Management Body Of Knowledge". The ancient "accredited" methods put a single guy as the responsible person for finishing and executing a project. This is just an observation at this point.

"Scrum" is another way of "managing". Actually, it is not really management, but mostly delegation. The scrum method is derived from agile project management and the team becomes responsible for its planning, estimation and execution. Well, the team led by the scrum master, sort of like a quarterback.

What I like about the method is that it allows you to extract information about the daily progress. For example, each task that is defined in this method will be estimated for a single day and one day only. There are no tasks that take two days. If there is one, it will be broken down into two parts. This facilitates management and tracking.

In the regular project management, a task may sometimes take 3, 5, 7 or 20 days. In the minds of some developers, this gives them "slack" and sometimes too much slack that the time is not properly controlled. At the end of the task, it may either be finished or backlogged. Imagine the surprise... And in steps the project manager to negotiate with the client.

Having it broken down in single tasks really facilitates tracking. The cool thing here is that the "whip" is no longer in the hands of the project manager. There is a public board on the wall that shows the tasks to be done, who is working on what and there is therefore transparency on other people's performance. This sort of means that everybody in the team has an invisible "imaginary" whip. Even though you wouldn't publically make anyone accountable, the people involved perceive a certain team pressure for complying with their agreed tasks and feel thus pressure to finish. This makes the integration within the team a lot stronger if the tasks *are* completed and opens up an interesting discussion if tasks are *not*. (this is where people management comes into play).

In the context of "Project Dune", I am planning to build a separated module for this type of management, so that electronically it is possible to track projects this way. There are quite a number of manual tasks involved still that should be automated.
(feature point management, project burndown, product burndown and impediment burndown).

The whole essence of scrum is making a sprint of 4 weeks and putting your foot down to complete it and manage your difficulties (impediments) plus tasks on a daily basis. This really helps to integrate your team better and establishes a much nicer team atmosphere than other management methods can do. However, this does depend on the commitment and attitude of the team.

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