DIY Project/Process Evaluation Kit

From time to time, a discussion rattles around the internet about “how can you tell how Agile you are?”  Over and over, I see people tout some variant of the Nokia Test as a way to tell if you’re Agile enough.  For the most part, I think this is hogwash.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all in favor of an Agile Team using something like the Nokia Test (or, better, Nationwide’s “Agile Tea Leaves”) as part of a self-examination and retrospection.  But any sort of discussion of conformance to practices is way too low-level for the executive team, or even middle management, of an organization.  Agile is the tool, not the goal.  The goal is to accomplish the things the organization wants to do.  Agile is a tool to allow the organization to accomplish its goals more reliably and in a more timely fashion.DIY Project/Process Evaluation Kit

With this in mind, I thought about what a high-level manager wants from the organization’s projects and the process used to develop them.  How can this manager tell if the development staff is doing a good job, or could be doing better?  I came up with this Do-It-Yourself Project and Process Evaluation Kit that such a manager can use, no matter what process the organization uses for development.  I think it will also be useful for Project Managers who need to report upwards.  Report in these terms, not in the details of the development process.

And here it is:

The DIY Project Process Evaluation Kit

  • How long does it take an idea to be realized and deployed?  A year?  A month?  A week?
  • What keeps it from being shorter? Budget cycles? Serial processes? Too much work? Bottlenecks?
  • How do you tell that you’re working on today’s highest priority items?
  • How do you verify that the systems you’re developing are solving the intended problem? How quickly do you know?
  • How do you measure progress of system development?  Is this a measure of something you actually want, or is it a surrogate measure?  Is it a reliable progress indicator or does it hide surprises?

Will these questions help you?  Are there others you’d want to add?

I hope you find these questions useful for years into the future.  To that end, I’ve printed them up on a card that can fit in your wallet.  Look me up at Agile 2009 and I’ll be glad to give you one.  Or send me your address and I’ll mail it out to you.

7 Replies to “DIY Project/Process Evaluation Kit”

  1. I like your article, especially the words “…I think this is hogwash.” Way to speak your mind!

    You are right about, “How can you tell how Agile you are?” being the wrong question.

    I think the first DIY question ought to be about results. I like Drucker’s question, “Are you getting the results you need.”

    I believe agile is all about creating a process for doing the right things, the right way so the answer to the results question is “Yes.”

    If an organization isn’t getting the results it needs, it benefits from drilling into why it isn’t — Is it doing the right things? Is it doing things the right way? Let the debugging process begin.

  2. Good questions George. Another possible question – Are your customers happy with the quality and reliability of your products/services?

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