Posts on Agile

Cure Your Agile Planning and Analysis Blues: The Top 9 Pain Points

frazzledproductchampionIf you’re on a team that’s transitioning to lean/agile, have you experienced troubling truths, baffling barriers, and veritable vexations around planning and analysis? We work with many lean/agile teams, and we’ve noted certain recurring planning and analysis pain points.

Mary Gorman and I shared our top observations in a recent webinar. Our hostess, Maureen McVey, IIBA’s Head of Learning and Development, prompted us to begin by sharing why we wrote the book Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis and then explaining the essential practices you can learn by reading the book.

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Lean/Agile Books to Enjoy and Learn From


I love books, and I read a lot of them.

Books help me learn about new tools and techniques to add to my toolkit. I also read books to reinforce and confirm practices that work, to challenge my thinking, and to discover new colleagues to connect with.

The problem? So many books, so little time. So I’ve curated a short list of five 2012 lean/agile books that I’ve found valuable, challenging, and useful.

[Oh… and did I mention my own new book, written with Mary Gorman: Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis. 😉 ]

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Using “Given-When-Then” to Discover and Validate Requirements

By Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener

In our book Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis we discuss the usefulness of the “Given-When-Then” technique to explore (discover) and confirm (validate) product options. Here we summarize the technique*, brainchild of Dan North.

What it Is 

Given-When-Then (GWT) is a structured format for expressing scenarios with example data, including pre- and post-conditions.

Usefulness

GWT helps project stakeholders (business, customer and technology partners) communicate using business domain language. You can use GWT to explore product options and confirm selected options and confirm selected options, in a concrete, tangible way. Often called “specification by example,” GWT provides living documentation for your delivered product. It simultaneously specifies requirements while identifying acceptance tests, thereby streamlining discovery and delivery.

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Agile Product Partners: Friends or Frenemies?

It continues to baffle me.

Clients share their struggles managing three, four, or five different product owners (or, as we refer to them, product champions). Delivery teams end up abandoning deployable software right before the end of an iteration or release.

Why?

It’s because the product champions can’t agree among themselves, or with the delivery team, on what to ship. As a result, the team members spend too much time in ineffective meetings and not enough time building high-quality software that delivers value.

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A Visual Language for Product Teams

In October, we wrote about big concepts for delivering an ever-evolving, high-value product. These Agile/Lean concepts are used in your daily work to rapidly discover product needs and deliver valued products:

* The Product, and the 7 Product Dimensions
* The Structured Conversation metaphor (explore-evaluate-confirm)
* Value
* Product Partners
* Planning Views

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A Quick Dip into our new book – Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning & Analysis

How do you rapidly discover product needs and create a practical plan for delivering high-value products? How do the people on your product development team collaborate as partners to explore and evaluate which work to deliver next? How do you confirm that you’re building the right product in the first place? How do you incorporate Agile/Lean practices into your daily work?

Our newly released book, Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis (two years in the writing) addresses these tough questions.

Here’s a quick tour of the big concepts.

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Announcing the release of Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning & Analysis

by Mary Gorman and Ellen Gottesdiener

We are pleased to announce our book Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis is now available.

Discover to Deliver provides the essential planning and analysis practices you need to collaboratively deliver high-valued products. It gives you a visual language to streamline and simplify your planning and analysis. You and your team get practical guidance in how to collaborate continually to discover and deliver an evolving product.

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Structured Conversations at Agile 2012

What really is value? How do you get diverse stakeholders with sometimes conflicting views of value to obtain—and sustain—a shared understanding of product needs?

We discussed these questions and more with Tech Target’s Melissa Webb. Melissa interviewed us to learn more about our Agile 2012 tutorial The Product Partnership: Using Structured Conversations to Deliver Value.

Melissa’s interview synthesizes a number of the key concepts in our new book, Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis, which will be released at Agile 2012!

You can read the complete interview here.

Going to Agile 2012?

We’re also pleased to be delivering workshops, each chock-full of learning activities:

That Settles It! Techniques for Transparent and Trusted Decision-Making on Your Agile Team Wednesday morning, August 15, 2012 with Ellen Gottesdiener.

The Contracting Two-Step: Patterns for Successful Collaborations, Wednesday afternoon, August 15, 2012 with Mary Gorman.

Hope to see you there!

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Essential Agile Business Analysis

For years and years we’ve coached and trained teams how to elicit, analyze, and manage requirements for software development projects. We also work on projects—so our coaching and training is based on real project work. We’ve just written a book on agile product planning and analysis. Now that so many organizations adopting Agile as the method of choice, what about requirements? Is there a need for analyzing requirements in Agile?

That was the theme of our June Webinar titled (spoiler alert!) “Business Analysis Is Essential to Agile Success” (use training@ebgconsulting.com to login). For our blog eNewsletter readers, here’s the nugget: requirements drive agile teams!

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