I recently delivered a presentation on project management to the Municipal Information Systems Association of California (MISAC). In the presentation, we discussed T2 Tech Group’s hybrid IT project management methodology.

To balance detailed planning with needed adaptability, our methodology uses a PMI/waterfall model for planning and an Agile approach to execution. The techniques included in the methodology lead to better user interfaces and workflows and help large enterprises optimize their technology investments.

To provide some insight for those looking to learn more about IT project management, I am sharing some key points I discussed with MISAC:

Components of an Agile approach

Agile execution includes the following: a period to update the backlog, an initial sprint planning meeting, daily scrum meetings throughout a sprint, a sprint review meeting with stakeholders, and a sprint retrospective meeting with your team. These components keep teams communicating and bring in stakeholders at the appropriate time.

Daily scrum calls

Scrum calls are quick and help project teams stay connected and on track. These calls should last a maximum of ten minutes. Your team’s conversation should be focused on reporting and not discussion. The key items to be reported include tasks completed the day before the scrum call, tasks that will be completed the day of the scrum call and tasks that cannot be completed because of roadblocks.

Giving ownership to your team

Different methodologies will break up tasks in different ways. In our system, a task is an item that can be started and finished in one sitting. Because tasks need to be completed quickly, they should be no longer than four hours.

Tasks and their effort estimates should come from the person who will be responsible for completing the task, and tasks should be phrased in a way that allows the owner to quantifiably state that the task is done. ‘Done’ means all portions of the task are complete, including any necessary documentation or knowledge transfer.

Stakeholder reporting

Stakeholder presentations occur at the end of a sprint and include key stakeholders. This is scheduled time and provides transparency to leadership while avoiding their interference during other parts of a sprint.

  • In a stakeholder presentation, our project managers and their teams typically do the following:
  • State commitments from two weeks ago
  • Show how the team performed
  • Demonstrate completed items and state commitments for the next two weeks

During these presentations, we also encourage teams to present tangible deliverables to stakeholders. Providing these deliverables and showing them to management gets teams more involved and excited about the project.

Key metrics

Among the metrics we use, our project managers demonstrate progress through burn down and velocity charts. These charts allow you to calculate your completion time based on team performance. The burn down charts show how much of an overall project your team has completed. In addition to traditional burn down charts, our project managers also use velocity charts that trend upward and provide more information to reflect scope changes.

Drafting a high-level charter

A high-level charter at the beginning of a project helps your team describe the higher purpose W’s: why a project is being done, what must take place to achieve your purpose and which metrics will be used to determine success. To satisfy your higher purpose W’s, you will likely want to include the following in your charter: a problem description, project objectives and goals, a project scope, project milestones, resource requirements, project flexibility and cost estimates.

Topics covered more in depth

In 2016, I released eight blogs on project management. I also collaborated with other project managers to release two white papers: When Colocation Makes Sense: Reasons for and Against and A Nine-Step Vendor Management Strategy. I plan to continue to share more on this topic, please stay tuned for upcoming posts in 2017.