Product Agility

A blog about agile product discover and delivery,
collaboration, and continual improvement

Rope Your Scope: Reining in Scope Creep (Part II)

Slide1Last time, I told the story of a team that experienced a breakthrough after clarifying the scope of a stalled project. Noting that scope creep—the unrestrained expansion of requirements as the project proceeds—is cited as one of the top project risks, I promised to describe some of the good practices that help product partners manage product scope in a disciplined way. With clients, I always stress the importance of developing a product vision, identifying goals and objectives for the product, and clarifying the product partners’ value considerations very early in the project before development proceeds. Let’s look at ways to do that.

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Rope Your Scope: Reining in Scope Creep (Part I)

scope creep image 2- contextRecently I worked with a project team developing a software product under grant from four entities, with a government agency as their ultimate customer. They called me in because, three months into a four-month project, they were desperately behind. Why? They’d been spinning in circles, trying to satisfy diverse stakeholders who had overlapping as well as conflicting requirements. The funding was split among several competitors, each with its own competencies, and there was a sense that the government agency was playing favorites based on its own preferences in the domain.

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“Agile Movies”: Tweets for Fun

Curated by Ellen Gottesdiener

The twitter-verse was recently ablaze with an informal playful contest: rename well-known movies using common agile terms and expressions (see my short list of those terms, below*).

It’s the month of and for April Fools, so join me for some fun.

I’ve assembled the best of the best of “agile movie” – with credit to its originator (and his or her twitter handle).

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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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