Piloting an Agile Project

November 21, 2013
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If you are planning to transition into Agile, and are trying to convince the higher management that going Agile is the way forward, the best option would be to drive a pilot project, which can showcase the benefits to everyone concerned. A pilot project will allow you to experiment all the different Agile principles that your team is aware of, check their relevance and benefits and create customized Agile methodology which is best suited for your requirements. It will also provide a template to see what does not work and how to improve the processes in future.

Important points to remember while choosing a pilot project:

  1. Choose a zero to low risk project: It is important that the project chosen should not be on a high priority list or high risk list, as this is more of an experiment and there is always a possibility of things going haywire. It should not affect the bottom-line else higher management will be reluctant to agree to such a project in the first place.
  2. Choose a project which can be finished in 2 months’ time: It’s important to choose a project which can cover all the bases like coding, design, testing, implementation etc. but does not consume months and months of time before it is ready for evaluation. You would like to quickly know if Agile is working for you or not. 60 days is considered an ideal time frame in which to decide.
  3. No External Customers: Though it sounds anti Agile, but the aim here is to evaluate whether Agile as a process will work for your team/organization or not. Involving external customers in a pilot project will distract you from this primary purpose.
  4. Have a member from the Higher Management act as a Dummy Customer: Identify someone in the higher management who shares your enthusiasm about transitioning to Agile. Make him/her your dummy customer, who will provide you feedback every day, and who will also share the progress report on a weekly basis with the senior management. This person will act as a facilitator for your team, will inform you of possible roadblocks and also acts as a mediator between your team and the senior management.

It is important to realise that a pilot project is conducted to test the feasibility of Agile Methodology in the real world. It provides an excellent template on which the senior management will rely upon whether to transition into Agile or not.

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