Project Management

While Agile Project Management requires specialist knowledge, there are foundational ways of working which can be modelled with students. Aspects of the methodology are shown in Atlassian’s Team Playbook. Other sources of Agile project management are demonstrated by applying creative and critical thinking.

Step 1: Envision It

Don’t rush through this phase. 
Iterate on your understanding of the problem space, and potential solutions. Look  to see that there is confidence in understanding the problem and solutions

Build the business case
Define the problem and the value in solving it.
Talk to your target customers
Focus on what you want the customer to be able to do. 
Leave the specifics to brainstorming solutions with the team.

Form the project team
Gather people with the skills you’ll need to solve the problem. 
Aim for a multidisciplinary team with a variety of backgrounds and problem-solving styles. 

Define “success”
Agree on measurable outcomes and metrics 
Make sure the project contributes to larger objectives

Brainstorm solutions
Think about specific solutions – their implementation; how customers will interact with the final product.
Be ambitious at this stage. 

Prototype and test
Put MVP in front of your target customers and stakeholders for early feedback

From The Team PlayBook 
Trade-off sliders 
Journey mapping
Roles and responsibilities
Roadmap planning 
Pre-mortem 
Stand-ups
Project poster 

You’re Stuck In Planning Mode
Shake off that “analysis paralysis”, and get going!
Remind the project team you’ll have chances to demonstrate progress and course-correct as you go.
Project kick-off
Pre-mortem
 
Others Don’t Understand What Your Project’s About
share small, frequent updates that are easy to digest
Make sure you’re sharing the right information in the right level of detail with the right people.
Elevator pitch 
Project poster 

Your Project Team Is Missing Critical Skills
Re-shape your concept so you can move forward with the resources you have.
Trade-off sliders



Step 2: Plan It

Planning should be relatively short 
Don’t forget to consider high-order business objectives in project goals

Nail Down The Project’s Scope
Use feedback from early testing and keep in mind metrics to define project scope
Be clear about the trade-offs you’re making

Understand & Manage Dependencies
Map out work, resources, or assets from outside the core project team
Identify bottlenecks

Build A Roadmap & Backlog
break the project plan down into discrete pieces of work
estimate the time and effort required for each
identify  major milestones 
set a target completion date. 
collect work into a backlog 

Anticipate & Mitigate Risk
Think through ways the project might fail, and dive into prevention mode. 
Also identify chances for mind-blowing success that you haven’t yet considered – missed opportunities are a form of risk, too.

Make A Communications Plan
Establish a cadence for team meetings and updates to stakeholders,
schedule recurring meetings
put reminders on the calendar to update the project’s plan and dashboard regularly.

From The Team PlayBook 
Problem framing 
Customer interview 
Rules of engagement 
Health Monitor™ 
Goals, signals, measures
Mindmapping 
End-to-end demo
Experience canvas 

THE PROJECT’S VALUE IS UNCLEAR
Choose a specific customer persona
Imagine why they would want service/ product.
Iterate until you’ve got customer valuing business
5 “whys”
Customer interview 
Experience canvas 

GOALS OR PRIORITIES CONFLICT
Agree on one (yes, one) objective to serve as your North Star for the project. 
When deciding trade-offs, prioritize closest to NS objective.
Goals, signals, measures
Trade-off sliders 

NOBODY KNOWS WHO IS IN CHARGE
Reach a shared understanding 
Understand the limits of the PM role
Roles and responsibilities
Project kick-off.
DACI decision-making framework

THE PROJECT TEAM CAN’T AGREE ON A DIRECTION
make sure team truly understands the problem & impact on the customer 
clarify what’s a priority for the business vs. what’s not.
form options
Problem framing 
Demo trust 

Step 3: Execute It

Working in 1- to 2- week iterations, with a demo for stakeholders and a team retrospective at the end.

Work iteratively
Start each cycle with ‘just enough’ planning, then knock out the work. 
Retrospectives are vital

Track Your Progress
Track pieces of work as they are completed,
how much of the budget remains, and whether you’re on track 
Show everyone the status easily
course-correct before things get out of hand.

Test and incorporate feedback
At the end of each iteration cycle, update your end-to-end demo
show it to stakeholders 
Capture feedback 
You may want to re-work X before moving on to Y

From The Team PlayBook
Sprint planning
Retrospectives 
Set up a Trello board 
Set up a Jira dashboard
End-to-end demo  
Sparring
YOU’RE STEPPING ON EACH OTHER’S TOES
Remove and prevent bottlenecks
Clarify roles or areas of responsibility
Stand-ups
Roles and responsibilities 
FEELS LIKE YOU’RE JUST SPINNING YOUR WHEELS
Shine a light on everything your team is accomplishing
End-to-end demo
Stand-ups 
SCOPE CREEP
Depending on budget and schedule, you might opt to expand the project’s scope
Deflect additional ideas or make trade-offs
Don’t skimp on quality of work
Trade-off sliders 
DACI decision-making framework 
COMMUNICATION HAS BROKEN DOWN
Build trust amongst team
Involve a neutral party
Stand-ups
Sparring 
Health Monitor™.
Rules of engagement 
ESTIMATES WERE WAY OFF- TARGET
RECALIBRATE your projected timeline based on the information you have about the actual effort needed to reach your milestones
Be open with stakeholders
Retrospective
5 “whys”

Step 4: Deliver It

Closing projects is important

Deliver your ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP)
Make use the project is accepted as ‘complete’… in writing

Closeout the budget
Pay any outstanding vendor invoices
Present invoices
Create a report for your project’s sponsor 

Do A Project Retrospective
What went well
What went horribly wrong
What did we learn?

Get your brag on
Write a short company announcement describing the project and thanking your team
Share the news with customers my way of email or blog

From The Team PlayBook 
Retrospective
Celebrate – team lunch

THE PROJECT ISN’T ACCEPTED AS DONE
Diplomacy to figure out the discrepancy
The goal is to agree on the definition of ‘done’
Draw up a list of tasks that will close the gap between here and ‘done’
Demo trust
Use this as a forum for discussing “done” and next steps with your management team.

Step 5: Improve It

Have you achieved your definition of ‘success’ for the project?
Are there ideas which have been left out of the MVP?

Technically, improving on what you just delivered is an on-going process – not a “step”
Use the plan in steps to review the important ideas that have been left out of the project


From The Team PlayBook 
YOUR MVP ISN’T BEING USED AND YOU DON’T 
KNOW WHY
Time for qualitative research
Talk to target customers
Set up user test to observe interactions
 
Customer interview – Go straight to the source and ask what the hang-up is.
Empathy mapping – Pair your quantitative data with your knowledge of the customer to understand how they think and feel about your project.
 
 
INCREMENTAL CHANGES AREN’T MOVING THE NEEDLE
Go bold
Do a major pivot
5 “whys” – Use this analysis technique to uncover the root of the problem so you know what future changes need to address.
Disrupt – Decalcify your neuro pathways and generate fresh ideas.