I was recently asked
I’m looking for pointers and experience of running programmes with Agile, particularly topics such as:
- team structures
- communication and coordination processes
Rather than Mike Cohn’s Scrum of Scrums, my answer is to use a master Kanban board to visualise the progress of the projects within a programme, which in turn will naturally enhance the communication and coordination process.
The programme board has cards for each of the sub projects or sub feature sets (MMFs) only. The detail for each of these is broken out on each of the teams Kanban boards, not on the programme level board.
This approach visualises what is going on at a higher level, and enables the various representatives from each of the sub teams to collaborate, understand what is coming their way that could affect them, and facilitate synchronisation.
A daily standup is still held, but the rhythm is around:
- what is blocking your team, or about to block another team
- what work is in progress
- bottlenecks (either current or impending)
- are priorities clear on what gets pulled next
- what needs to be expedited
The standups still run from right to left on the board, in other words upstream; from what is about to released, back all the way to analysis.
Each team records Lead Time and Cycle Time in elapsed working days (some sub project teams may still use points but augment these with LT and CT). This enables those at the programme level to be able to compare teams. Those sub teams with longer Lead Times are asked if they needed more resources, assistance in removing bottlenecks, if we have to go and work on the System conditions etc etc. The only caveat to this is keeping managers in check so that they dont start using these metrics for pointing fingers (at “slow” teams) rather than continual improvement opportunities.
As Dr Peter Middleton says the usual constraint for programme visualisation is the ability of the human mind to handle complexity, this is why tools struggle, as you get to see all individual work items for its sub-projects, too complex! There is no need for one gigantic board/tool visualising everything in fine detail.