When you first hear about agile methodologies like scrum for custom software development, they probably sound more or less intuitive. Step-by-step plans worked out upfront assume you know exactly what your project will involve. Since that’s seldom the case with software projects, you instead work iteratively, incorporating lots of user feedback along the way. But how does shifting to an agile approach affect the role of managers?
For this week’s Tech Club episode, James and I thought we’d go straight to the source, who in this case is Aptera’s Custom Software Practice Leader Matt Noggle. He’s been managing scrum projects for a few years now, so we figure he’s got some useful insights. Some common themes are collaboration, visibility, and delivering value on an ongoing basis.
Matt further breaks down topics including:
- What the essential aspects of a scrum approach are
- Why the goal is to have something to deliver to production at the end of every sprint
- Who the Product Owner is and what the role entails
- How you manage iterative projects to keep them from being completely open-ended and messy
- What the difference is between a list of requirements and the product backlog
- How sizing is done and how costs and timeline estimates are derived from your sizing efforts
- How you balance the time devoted to ceremonies with other tasks to make the process as lean as possible
- What some of the keys are to giving solid figures for the people working on the budget
- Why ongoing feedback from the product owner is so critical to maximizing the value of the software
- How conversations about shifting priorities tend to play out within the context of the established budget
- How you as the manager maintain visibility into what your team is doing
- What happens to team members who aren’t keeping up in terms of delivering value
- Which tools are the most useful in managing agile projects
- What a Kanban board is and how it helps you track the flow of the project
- How you manage team composition with scrum projects
- Where improved ideas come from when you’re reprioritizing your product backlog
- What some of the major caveats are that you should be aware of when you’re starting a scrum project
- What the basic calculation is that will help you decide if you want to use an agile approach
It was surprising to James and me that this was the first time we had Matt on Tech Club. He’s one of the most fun and engaging people you can talk to about an impressive range of topics, both tech-related and otherwise. Since he didn’t seem to find the experience too excruciating, we may get him to come back sometime soon to discuss some of the cool stuff he’s doing with augmented reality.
In the meantime, let us know what else you’d be interested in learning about at email@example.com.
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