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Lessons learnt from others

An old Spanish saying says “no one learns a shred from another person’s head.” But let’s try it anyway by reading some experiences other people encountered while managing projects.
In the previous section I’ve told you about my own mistakes in managing projects. In this section I will tell you about the main lessons Jeff Sutherland learned while helping companies like Nokia, Patient Keeper or even Google to adopt Scrum:
In Google, some of the teams adopted Scrum little by little. They did this because they feared resistance from their engineers. They thought that introducing a formal process in teams that were already highly productive would not speed them up but slow them down. They started implementing Scrum using only the most basic techniques. If Google can do it, why can’t we?
In Google, they also had a certain resistance to meeting daily. They thought it would be time spent in vain. They started with meetings that lasted a good deal longer than the initial 15 minutes. At first each engineer took quite a long time to explain what he or she was doing and the problems being faced. After a while, when all the members had explained their job and were aware of the job of the rest of the teammates, the meetings were much more fluid and helpful. To my relief, in their simplified, initial Scrum, they didn’t use a burndown chart for every iteration. They used only one per delivery. That made me feel better. I hadn’t been able to keep the Kanban board updated daily for each sprint (yes, I know, Scrumbutophobia).
The burndown chart helped them realise how long they would spend in developing a feature. For a feature that they initially estimated at 40 points and 3 weeks, they saw that in the first week they had covered only 8 points. In the second week they managed to finish only 7.5 points. But one of the managers thought that they had the feature ready in the third week. Then the graph made it clear that it wouldn’t be ready in that amount of time.

Jeff Sutherland recalls a project for the health sector which would be accessed online simultaneously by hundreds of doctors and other users. In that project, the definition of Done became more and more stringent. At first, they just had to pass the unit tests and acceptance tests. But later on, for something to be really marked as Done or Finished, it had to meet this condition: “deploy to production, and if the phone doesn’t ring for 1 hour, the new delivery is complete.”

You can find texts like this and many other about how to manage agile projects in my book Agile 101: Practical Project Management (available on Amazon).

Book on Scrum: Agile 101, Practical Project Management
Agile 101 – Practical Project Management
Translation by Begoña Martínez. You can also find her on her LinkedIn profile. Proofreading by David Nesbitt.

Curso de Scrum Agile 101

Tengo pensado lanzar pronto un curso de Scrum/Agile pero no tengo decididos aún formato en el que lanzarlo o los contenidos exactos que tendrá. Quiero que sea un curso sobre todo práctico y que incluya cuestionarios después de cada tema, hojas de trabajo en las que se planteen problemas o ejercicios para asegurarme de que se entiende cada una de las ideas que se explican y plantillas para las reuniones diarias, las gráficas burndown o la comunicación con el cliente.
Cuando uno intenta plantear un curso de este tipo el primer problema con que te enfrentas es si debes orientarlo a personas que ya tienen un cierto conocimiento de Scrum o Agile porque Scrum lleva ya un tiempo en el mercado o bien crear un curso más sencillo en el que los profesionales que aún no se han decidido a implantarlo en sus proyectos tengan una guía con la que iniciarse en esto de Scrum.
Al terminar el curso quisiera que los participantes hubiesen aprendido:
  • Los roles y artefactos mínimos para una implantación gradual de Scrum.
  • Roadmap para avanzar en la implantación de Scrum.
  • Las ventajas y razones principales para usar Scrum.
  • Las dificultades más importantes a la hora de implantar Scrum y cómo resolverlas
  • Cómo sacar el máximo partido a Scrum.
También hay otras muchas cuestiones como si se prefiere que los contenidos sean de sólo texto o contenga también vídeos, si se quiere incluir asesoramiento personalizado via email o videoconferencia o descuentos por grupos para empresas. Para intentar resolver todo esto he creado un pequeño formulario/encuesta en la que puedes ayudarme a saber qué puede hacer más interesante para ti un curso como éste. En la siguiente dirección tienes un enlace a la encuesta: Encuesta Curso de Scrum Agile 101. Tienes tres minutos y me ayudas a saber qué puede ser más interesante para ti? Gracias!

The 80/20 Rule

How can we avoid featuritis and concentrate just on the tasks that will make us more efficient? Many years ago, approximately a century ago, someone called Pareto realised that 20% of the pea pods in his garden amounted for 80% of his crop. The remaining 80% of his pea pods amounted to the other 20% of his pea crop. Intrigued by this ratio, he also checked that he could use this rule to other fields. He went on to discover that, back then, 20% of the population had 80% of the income. The remaining 20% of the wealth was in the hands of the poorest 80% of the population. This principle, based in empirical knowledge, has been in use since then. It helps improve efficiency and productivity in economics, commercial distribution, marketing, engineering, and, naturally, in software development.
For example, we start to develop our product with a huge list of requirements and features as a base. Yet we know that only 20% of those features will be used 80% of the time. A large chunk of the remaining features will only be used 20% of the time. We can apply this principle to development time. Using it, we can deduce that if it takes us about 10 months to build a product, in 2 of those months we will be able to develop 80% of the features. Thus it would take us about 8 months to solve the remaining 20% of the most complex and difficult features. This leads us to ponder: will people use these features? Are they really indispensable?

Say we manage to identify the most important features, and we keep them as simple as we can. Wouldn’t we be able to dispense with 8 months of work and deliver a highly effective product in 2 months only? We already know that 20% of our effort will produce 80% of our results. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to sit for a moment and think for a bit about what we should devote our time to? I’m sure it would.

You can find texts like this and many other about how to manage agile projects in my book Agile 101: Practical Project Management (available on Amazon).

Book on Scrum: Agile 101, Practical Project Management
Agile 101 – Practical Project Management

Translation by Begoña Martínez. You can also find her on her LinkedIn profile. Proofreading by David Nesbitt.

Agile 101 available for pre order

New ebook, Agile 101, is already available for pre order in Kindle stores worldwide. You can find the link to the Amazon.com page here: Agile 101 – Practical Project Management. Order it now and you’ll receive your copy on 5th of November when it will be finally released.

You don’t need a Kindle device to read it, all it takes it’s to download a Kindle reader app for PC, Mac or Android from Free Kindle reading apps or just start reading in any device typing read.amazon.com in your web browser.

It is the English version of the 3rd edition of Gestión práctica de proyectos con Scrum (Spanish edition) which reached twice number 1 in sales at Amazon Spain (across all genres), and remained in the Top 100 for five consecutive days.

With Agile 101 you’ll learn:

  • The main advantages and disadvantages when implementing Scrum. The things you should bear in mind and those you should avoid.
  • How to make agile estimates.
  • How to handle the project’s budget while allowing your client to modify the required functionality.
  • The lessons I have learned during my years as a software development professional. I will tell you what I did right but also what I did wrong, so that at least you don’t make the same mistakes I did.
  • Tips and tricks to prepare for the Professional Scrum Master certification (PSM I), so you improve your chances of landing better jobs.
Begoña Martínez translated the book into English. You can also find her on her LinkedIn profileDavid Nesbitt proofread the translation.
Cover and back cover of the new edition have been designed by Alex Caja Almonacid (also cover and back covers of Spanish editions of Gestión práctica de proyectos con Scrum and Certificación Professional Scrum Master – PSM I).

Agile 101 – Practical Project Management

Upcoming book: Agile 101 – Practical Project Management

New book, new prezi. I have prepared for you a presentation of the upcoming book Agile 101. There you can find a short description of the chapters you can find inside.

Check it out on Prezi site or directly here:


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