Thursday, July 17

Project Vital Sign Charting Spreadsheet

Recently I read the article in Thoughtworks Anthology called Project Vital Sign written by Stelios Pantazopoulos. In this article the author proposed a few type of charts that an Agile team can produce, usually by the Team Lead or Iteration Manager, as Information Radiators to improve communication among team members as well as with stake holders.

After reading the article, I suddenly recalled a conversation I had a while back when working with a PM who is relatively new to the Agile landscape. She asked me a question that at the time I thought the answer was obvious, she asked that how can you find out if an Agile project is in trouble or on schedule under budget. At the time my answer was, if you attend every kickoff and retrospective meeting then you can pretty much tell from the story board. She left with a puzzled look on her face, apparently what I thought was obvious was not obvious at all to some folks on the team. If this is the case for a PM who works pretty much everyday with the developers in the trench, then you can imagine the disconnection and difficulty a less technical senior manager would face when he/she tries to find out the status of an Agile project. One of the contributing factors* to Scrum's rapid adoption rate in larger corporation is the Burn-Down chart it produces which clearly communicates project status to anyone who would like to know.

But thanks to Stelios' article now we can generate several very useful charts for any Agile project for both the developers as well as any one who is interested to know the project status including the senior managers. I am planning to use some of these charts in my next project, and created spreadsheet template based on the suggestion in the article. I have uploaded this template, please feel free to modify and use it in your project, and let me know if it turns out useful at all for you.

* Other factors are Long Iteration (less agility) and a nice title for the PM (Scrum Master) plus certification program, and of course as always better marketing ;-)

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