ProjectsatWork has published a study called Distributed Agile Teams: Achieving the Benefits. The report was put together by Elizabeth Harrin (@PM4Girls), who is the author of the website A Girls Guide to Project Management. The results of the research cover a lot of ground with respect to what makes distributed Agile projects work and what can contribute to their failure. The report is very insightful and definitely worth the time it takes to read. While some of the findings may seem like common sense, knowledge workers in the IT space (myself definitely included) seem to possess a remarkable capacity for periodic loss of grip to that tether.
My favorite part comes at the very end during the summary of recommendations. Number One on the list is:
Don’t act like your project is co-located – pay the tax for distribution.
This is one of the most simple things that so many of us forget when we are working at a distance. I believe this applies whether you are working down the hall from someone, or across the globe… there is a price that has to be paid when you are not sitting in the same room. With the transparency that Agile offers, this tax becomes far more obvious. There is no doubt that distributed teams provide a number of benefits, but those benefits come at a cost. The reason (IMHO) so many people struggle so much with distributed is that they keep thinking that the ride is free … which it theoretically could be… unless you actually want it to work.
Last year I attended SXSW for the first time. While I had intended to spend my days basking in the onslaught of music and film that it is known for, what I actually spent my time doing was focusing mostly on the talks that centered on Agile and Project Management. Each of the presentations on PM and Agile were very well attended. In some cases there was a line waiting to get in, so there is a definite hunger for information at the event. Unfortunately, with the exception of one talk (given by Brett Harned and Pamela Villacorta) the content presented in most of the PM and Agile talks was disappointing.
SXSW 2012 is right around the corner and they’ve opened the area where people can vote on proposed topics. If you’ve got a few minutes, follow the links below to become an SXSW 2012 Panel Picker, search for Agile and PM presentations vote Thumbs Up for the ones you think look interesting. This Spring, there will be another crowd of PMs in Austin who are interested in learning about project management and how to do it better. Help make sure the talks they get to choose from are going to help them raise their game. Who knows… you may end up working with some of them someday. Continue reading →
Ask any Project Manager if they think Risk Management is an important part of successful project management and they’ll all say yes. Ask them if they actually use Risk Management consistently throughout the entire project lifecycle and you’ll probably see far fewer hands go up.
In my own personal experience, I have found that there is almost nothing that eases the path of a project as much as a consistent and disciplined approach to Risk Management. There are two very simple reasons why a consistent approach to capturing, evaluating and managing risk is so critical to managing projects. Continue reading →