This field manual details the management practices, artefacts, and meetings for optimising agile projects and devops.
Those familiar with standard agile will immediately be comfortable with the AgileSweet method.
Throughout the description the underpinning economic optimisation logic is highlighted as well as the link to leadership and .
This method section of this field manual focuses on management, as opposed to leadership. It covers items such as workplace setup, planning, tracking and estimation methods and tools, meeting and communication standards, documentation, test design, UX design, and DevOps.
Agreed Execution Plan: Get it signed!
This is a living document, review and update every month / six weeks.
- Ideally, everyone sits together but has access to a quite isolated room where they can work undisturbed if necessary.
- Lots of wall space, pin-up and white-boards.
- Stick the objectives, in big font, on the wall.
- Stick the purpose of the objectives, in big font, on the wall.
2. Card Storm, Stack, Track and Plan, Trello
Card Generation Meeting
- Get everyone around a table, a big table, with a stack of index cards, in a room with a white-board. Take a roll of attendees.
- Ideally have someone with experience writing the cards and state them in terms of a use case: “I am an employee and I want to sign-up for an English coures.”
This is not totally strict, they can also be simply written as tasks
- Break the cards down into work that will take at least half a day but no longer than three days. Break big ones down.
- Arrange them on the table by module.
- Give them an importance rating of
- Must – must have to meet the objectives
- Should – worth the effort / cost but not imperative to meet the objective.
- Could – everything else, no idea is ever discarded, they are all potential scope.
- When everyone is out of ideas then be sure to ask: “Okay, can anyone think of anything else?”
This is important because as you go along you will see how much there was that no-one thought of at time.
This is to be embraced and it will clearly highlight the uncertainty of complex environment and the limits of even the most experienced imaginations.
Update the Stack, Track and Plan Document and Trello
- Number the cards and enter all the cards onto the Stack Tab, they will all get an id code usually ABC-123 format.
- This will populate the Tracking chart.
- Set up Trello (or similar) with a Kanban board.
- Cut the lines form the sheet into the cards, and tag them as Must, Should, Could and arrange them by modules.
Iteration and Plan
- Review the Execution section of the 5 Step PEP, in particular: the strategies, modules milestones / deliverables. Update as applicable.
- Given the objectives, constraints, strategy make a rough schedule of module milestones and deliverables on the Calendar tab in the Stack, Track and Plan document.
Make this fast and factor in windows of time instead of hard dates if possible.
No need for task details. Keep it lean.
4. Iteration Flow
Almost ready to kick-off now with Iteration 1, so what is an iteration?
- An iteration (or sprint, in Scrum-talk) is time-box of two weeks.
- The next one starts as soon as the previous one finishes.
- Each iteration we update the Stack list and the Tracking with new cards and record of what is done and completed (DONE MEANS DONE), from this we get estimation of are we on track to get all our must have’s done in the time expected. More on this in minute …
3. Card Playing and Kick-Off
Okay, time to start delivering.
- In the first “Card Playing” meeting, with the strategy in mind, everyone gathers around the table and it is covered in the must have cards.
- The top priority cards, that can be agreed for delivery in the first two-week iteration are selected.
- Limit to this to what can be committed to for completion in that first iteration, it should take an emergency to change the priority.
- The emergency will typically come along on the first Tuesday afternoon but this is not problem, it should be treated as a new card, the product owner must give her approval of the reprioritization and it gets added to the stack.
- Once the cards to be done are agreed then roughly determine the cards that are likely for the next iteration after the current one.
These are the ‘on deck’ cards, good to have them in mind in advance, as there will quite often be preliminary work (like booking meetings) that needs to be in place so they can be done. There’s an art to this and a good leadership, and discipline, makes a difference.
If a task is going to take multiple efforts to complete across more than one iteration then it should be split into multiple cards.
- The team lead or card keeper takes the cards in play and the cards on deck.
Stick your card up next to your desk for all to see. You have one priority now.
- Hand out the cards to the people responsible for delivery and stick the rest of them on the wall in the ‘In Play’ section.
- Stick the ‘On Deck’ cards on the wall in the On Deck section.
- Look around at what people are working on – if you have a good idea suggest it. Communication drives creativity and productivity.
- Update trello, drag the cards to their correct place in the Kanban board and add the members, as much as possible, for the cards in play and on deck.
- Get to work!!
Progress the Cards
- When a card is done it goes to the tester (if there is one).
- Then it gets stuck on the DONE wall for that iteration.
- As things progress the wall of achievement grows.
Trello is update accordingly, and the Stack, Track and Plan document.
6. Progress Reporting and Estimation
Progress is transparent and quite easily reported.
- The showcasing of deliverables and important done items.
- The Tracking chart from the Stack, Track and Plan document.
Reminder: DISCIPLINE = FREEDOM
- You can’t not do any part of this process or miss the meetings and still call it agile.
- You will introduce risk and failure if you do and it won’t be agile.
- There is not much discipline required but if you stick to it you will have freedom to be creative and succeed and you will find a lot of the traditional stresses disappear.
Most importantly, by letting the process take care of productivity and estimation the leaders are free to add the most value through leading: building relationships, setting standards, owning problems and subsequent solutions.