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There is no denying the fact that planning and estimation play a big role in the success of any project. While Agile methodologies continue to reign the IT world, the ordinary style of planning and estimation has declined to a big extent. That said, I am shedding light on how project managers can plan and estimate in Agile project management to make it a success.
Due to the fluid nature of Agile, some project managers may think that there is no planning required in Agile project management. However, an important point to note here is that Agile project management entails specific kind of planning to handle the dynamic nature of Agile environment.
Agile planning life cycle may not make sense to some project managers initially, since it has short, repetitive and flexible nature. It may also appear as if the Agile planning life cycle begins from where the planning for traditional (non-agile) projects ends. However, all these beliefs are attributable to lack of understanding of Agile concepts. Let’s understand how.
If you gather all the information before your development team even starts writing the code, you are highly likely to put a whammy on your end product by missing out on current market demands. This is what Agile does not not allow to happen.
The basis of Agile is simple: It’s not possible to determine all the tasks to complete a software project in the very beginning. Since the plan, the requirements and the architecture of a project have gradual emergence, Agile allows to make important iterations during the development lifecycle itself. The end product, as a result, not only pleases the client, but also meets current market demands.
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1. Product Vision Planning: This level of planning is meant to look into the future of the product and create the macro image of the product’s world. Product vision planning helps in understanding the priorities and their estimations.
2. Product Roadmap Planning: Now that the idea of how the product would look like is clear, the next step is to divide the product’s world into distinct buildings. These distinct buildings are used to estimate the releases with respect to the general functionalities and time needed.
3. Release Planning: This level of planning calls for determining how each building will appear.
4. Iteration Planning: Now comes planning for the floors required for each building and how each floor will appear from inside. For example, the kitchen, bathroom, etc. The benefit of iteration planning is that it helps assign the floors to different teams based on their abilities and experience.
5. Daily Commitment Planning: Simply telling your team the part of the floor they have to build is not enough. You are also required to give them explicit directions on how to build the assigned rooms, like constructing the walls, windows, doors, etc. As a result, you can make right expectations and accurate projections.
Expert Advice: One of the best ways to make estimations is to ask people with previous experience on the assigned tasks.
Comparison: Conducting analogies between known and unknown tasks enables to find a relative scale for estimation.
Divided Tasks: Estimations are more likely to prove accurate when tasks are broken into smaller ones.
However, it’s important to understand that estimations are subject to change. Therefore, you must have real data with you, for which you need to create the minimum viable product. Doing so, you can see how close your projections are to reality. Besides, you need to keep making improvements in your products to make your projections realistic. After you begin getting results, you can figure out if the projections are valid or you need to make changes in them.
Agile planning and estimation enables faster completion of a project, but without making any compromise on quality. As project managers often witness rapid changes in market demands, a proper planning and estimation is must to save the end-product from up having loose ends. This is the reason why Agile methodologies continue to soar in popularity. I hope the insight I offered through this blog into Agile planning and estimation would help you make a better decision on project management.