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We as TaUB Solutions had a great opportunity to demonstrate practical benefits of applying Agile in Project Management practices with PMI Singapore members on 26th Nov 2016 at Sentosa Cove, Singapore.

We had total of 14 members + 5 Board Members who were involved in the one day business simulation. Each and every member had a specific role to play in the game to build a Pyramid, Statue, Victory Needle as well as Celebration Ground using Lego blocks.  I was the Pharoh and Game leader to put the team under test to see if they were able to demonstrate Agile principles and practices to make this exercise successful.

The Team spent first 90 minutes planning by brainstorming the requirements from Pharoh using MoScoW method and ironed out a game plan.  It took a while for people to understand their respective roles such as High Priest, Risk Expert, Quality Expert, SubContractor, Construction worker, Project Manager, Architect, Project Admin, Priest of Large Pyramid and Supplier in the context of the game dynamics including inputs-outputs and deliverables.

Team Discussing about the Project Requirements, Deliverables, budget in the Planning meeting.

The teams were then allowed to play 3 Sprints of  40 minutes each where every Sprint covered 5 months of work effort [Sprint Planning, Actual Sprint, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective] demonstrating progress using Burn Down charts and Kanban Boards.  At the end of Round 1, the team identified the following

After Round 1

–      It was essential to understanding the Process/Information flow that works in real practice

–       The teams did not have a clue on what was happening, what issues happened and also get hold on progress. A Stand up Meeting would have helped everyone to come to speed.

–       Reverse Engineering to identify how many stones can be minted in 15 months based on capacity, budget and Quality

–       Delegation of work was missing as people were trying to get a firm grasp of their respective roles.

–       Risk Management was not taken in to consideration as everyone assumed that they had budget to cater to in case of any eventualities

–       Understanding the team velocity, timelines and deliverables was a challenge without good insights to Agile principles/practices.

The team also observed that they had built more stones than they could because, there was no track of how much was the team`s capacity, budget and split of high quality and low quality stones. This is when the team decided to pause and get a firm hold on identifying from every stakeholder their inputs, outputs, deliverables and risks.

They did a value-stream mapping exercise to identify leakages, non-value added activities and understood how they can collaborate as a team to make the next round better.

Reflections from Round 2

  1. Requirements kept on changing [Pharoh was demanding more things]
  2. Responding to changes as opposed to following a Fixed Plan [ Agile Manifesto]
  3. Protyping is essential to get confidence among customers [Experimentation and Observation]
  4. Invest more time to address requirements [Challenging the why? value proposition and big picture]
  5. Visibility of work, progress and pending tasks to prioritise work [ Need of Kanban Board]
  6. Estimated Effort and Cost vs Actual Effort/Cost variance using Burn Down Chart
  7. Portability of Roles ( Self Organising Team) [Some team members had to leave in between so someone had to step up ]
  8. Swapping of Roles – The team assessed the workload of every team member and decided to delegate work and also complement each other.

The team made good progress , making corrective and preventive actions from the earlier rounds to conduct stand up meetings every month end, called up for a status review with the Pharoh and also demonstrate visible Burn down charts, issues and risks using stick on notes at the Kanban board.

Teams doing a Stand-Up meeting to measure progress, budget, timeline and pending tasks.

Finally by the end of 3rd Round accomplished the target with plenty of real time learning and hands on experience on what does it take to be successful Agile teams.  Here is a list of learning reported by the team after the end of the workshop

a)    The game highlighted the need of Team work,  communication, cross functional collaboration and power of Self Organising teams [Agile Teams]

b)   It  was clear that no amount of planning would help achieve the goal first time and hence would be of paramount importance not to get in to Analysis/Paralysis

c)    While planning sprints, accept reality and design for just enough processes

d)   It insisted the need for taking ownership and accountability as an Agile team and take corrective actions

e)    In order to report results and progress , it would be easy to maintain through Burn Down Charts, Kanban boards to get end-end visibility

f)     The Sprint Retrospective created an opportunity to continually improve the shortcomings, agree on a workable action plan and implement in the next sprint

g)    It also gave an opportunity to complement the teams with everyone`s expertise and also chiming when needed to take additional work load

h)   It is critical to get the big picture and goal as opposed to focusing on Roles and Responsibilities

i)     We have a huge data available already. If we don`t leverage the information already we are reinventing the same wheel

j)Project needs quick learning curve (Usage of Sprints and MVP)

k)Risk Management has to be decided with holistic project needs

l) Planning is needed to be done properly ( Emphasises the need for Release Planning & Sprint Planning meeting)

m) Stand up Meeting to improve visualisation, identify progress and enable quick decision making

n) Need to be engaged with stakeholders throughout the life cycle of the Project

0) Validation and endorsement of work packages is critical and can be done through Sprint review and sprint retrospective cycles

p) Team must understand and practice telling  “No” to tasks that would neither add value nor accomplish the project objectives

The Picture below shows how much excited the team was after doing the 8 hours workshop.

If you would like to know more about the Agile Project Management simulation, reach out to us