Tip #2: the Key Roles
There are several key roles in an Agile project, but I want to focus on the role of the product owner, or the 'key user', or 'champion.' This is the sponsor's representative embedded fulltime in the project team, and must bring three vital attributes to the project, as follows:
1. A thorough practical understanding of how the business processes work at the moment
2. A thorough understanding of the desired state in the business area (not HOW the project will solve the problems, but a clear view of the desired business outcomes)
3. Authority to accept or reject project deliverables on the spot, without recourse to focus groups, acceptance meetings and so on
Unfortunately, what these attributes describe is someone who is vital to the current day-to-day operation of our customer department; someone who may be very difficult to release full-time (and it HAS to be full-time).
This practical resourcing issue can be a sticking-point for many Agile projects, and the prospective Agile project manager must be adamant that, without this commitment, the project must not attempt to use the Agile approach.
This is another reason why the Agile project will benefit from a short education session up-front.
Mike Watson (PMP) is a partner in a project management consultancy business, mostly devoted to running practical training in PMI-based approaches across the world. The practical theme is carried through into the 2 books Mike has in print at the moment, the latest one describing a methodology for running smaller projects using just one sheet of paper (Projects Kept Simple, published by MB2000). Mike is also very keen to remind project managers that methodologies and software do not complete project tasks, but the individual human beings that make up the project team do the work.