Here are some real-life challenges that Agile Planning may need to address.
1. Translating Product Vision To Iterations
Jumping in too quickly to start the development may turn counterproductive. It’s crucial that the team management and Product Owner together establish a roadmap that keeps the team on the path of achieving targeted objectives. It does take some efforts at the start of the project to articulate the product vision and analyze available requirements. Involving key team members and the Product Owner helps set a clear vision.
2. Knowing You Are Delivering The Right Thing
The Product Owner plays a key role in ensuring project success. Translating business needs into project objectives may seem easy on the surface, but it is a tricky task. The person in this role may need to stay constantly involved with the development team for iteration demos and mid-iteration interactions. The Product Owner represents the business and plays a crucial role in not just validating iteration output but also drives the development of UI designs, use cases, and test cases.
This is a hands-on, high involvement job and can turn daunting especially when done in an onsite-offshore setting. BitWise agile projects delivered from offshore, have a designated Proxy Product Owner who is co-located with the team and usually comes from a testing or a business analysis background. The Proxy Product Owner assists in creating use cases and test cases while maintaining close communication with the real Product Owner.
3. You Can’t Predict Defects
That’s why you need to keep some bandwidth available to fix them. Usually, more bug-fixing bandwidth is recommended for later iterations compared to earlier ones. Historical data, if available, plays a crucial role in deciding how much of bandwidth is really required at different stages.
Continuous testing plays a key role in the success of Agile projects. The team needs to be equipped and prepared to handle the amount of testing necessary for the project. The disastrous launch of healthcare.gov in late 2013 is a good case in point.
An important feature of BitWise agile projects is a dedicated iteration for regression testing, usually towards the end of a milestone or project. It has provided incredible value to customers and ensured adequate attention is paid to defects.
4. Do Iterative Changes Affect Product Design?
Design, like integration and testing, is a continuous activity. The iterative approach provides the luxury to plan a design that’s minimum viable and enhance it from there. Bitwise Agile iterations deliver not only code but also design improvements as deliverables.
Unless you are careful and have invested some upfront effort in setting up a clear roadmap and future-proofing the design, it won’t be long before you start worrying about the rework frequent design changes are causing.
5. Timeboxing Research-Oriented Tasks
Having incomplete tasks at the end of an iteration is not a very uncommon scenario. Especially, if the tasks involve technically complex research-oriented work. Apart from derailing team velocity, such tasks may impact a more important metric – customer satisfaction. The sprint retrospective is an opportunity to brainstorm the causes and consider alternative approaches.
So what are the options? Not too many, really. Either it can be moved to the next iteration if it’s more than halfway through or move it back to the product backlog and reprioritize.
Agile delivery works. Confirmed by a large percentage of teams across domains and organizations who are adopting or have already adopted Agile. An adaptive planning approach and clever handling of challenges are what differentiates a successful Agile project from an unsuccessful one.
Bitwise has consulted a number of clients on delivering Agile projects and helped overcome challenges. Think we can help? Do let us know.