For agile teams to be really successful, like amazingly successful, I think all of the team members need to always be willing to take responsibility. It’s this concept of “the buck stops here.” It’s the mentality that, when you observe something that needs done, or needs corrected, you make sure it happens. You flag the problem, bring it to somebody’s attention and make sure it’s addressed, or take care of it yourself.
We were in the fanciest board room I have had the pleasure to sit in. Two large TVs took up one wall with a Crestron unit inset to their right. The large and beautiful table had electronics wired into it as well, and it comfortably sat 15 people. I had a slideshow up on the TVs and was talking through portfolio management and forecasting when the vice president in attendance said, “But none of this matters. There’s no way to estimate accurately. It’s all just made up.”
I was stunned. I literally got a degree in the science of project management. Developments in estimating project complexity and size over the last forty years have resulted in reasonably accurate estimation that lets us predict delivery times well. But she didn’t know that.
And that’s fine. I let it pass, because in the moment it didn’t matter, and I can build estimation into their project later. For now, I want to share with you a few tips for how to estimate accurately.
But first, a magic trick
Here is the magical trick that all pros use when estimating.
They don’t do it themselves.
As part of my current job, I’m expanding my study of project management from traditional PMI practices to agile methodologies and the Scrum framework. Being the academic I am, I turn to books for a lot of my education and exploration, and reading through blog posts and reviews pointed me to Coaching Agile Teams as a good place to start. I’ve been reading this book for about two weeks, and it has resulted in adding two other books to my wishlist, but that’s for later.
The sub-title of this book is, “A companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition.” I was exposed to agile at least a year or two ago, but I’ve only really begun to study it over the last six months, and only received some formal training in it a month ago. I’m nowhere close to being a ScrumMaster, let alone an Agile Coach, but I think “Project Manager in Transition” might work for me.
This book was truly excellent, but I think that sub-title is really important. It identifies a target audience, and if you’re not part of that audience, Coaching Agile Teams may have limited benefit for you.