We talk a lot in our blogs about improving things and stuff not-to-do... But what about those who are at the beginning of a new project, creating a new backlog, working with a new vision and new stakeholders? How do they get started?

Here are some thoughts I put together for a friend on this subject:

  1. The product backlog / product vision -- is it clear where the project is going? What are the guiding principles and priorities? What are the short term goals and the long term goals? What are the major expectations? Are these reflected in the product backlog? Is management clear on what they want or is the overall situation in terms of priority and vision unclear or shifting?
  2. The people - who's on the team? -- Do they, together, have the necessary skills to get the job done or is there some additional training that could be done now before the project officially starts? Do they have a good handle on agile practices? Do they understand collaboration? Are they going to be able to collaborate? Can they write automated tests? How about the Product Owner? Does he or she seem to know what is needed? Is he or she working with the product backlog and familiar with it, or is there a lot of doubt or uncertainty?
  3. The product and engineering infrastructure - what exists so far? Are you adding on something that's already started (modifying existing code) or creating net new functionality? As your team creates the functionality in the backlog, will your team be able to write automated tests or will you be creating another set of manual tests because the infrastructure isn't there to support automation? Is the UI "thick," making automation even more difficult, or thin and abstracted from a lot of the product functionality?

There's more on this topic in Enterprise Agile Software Development in the chapter "Agile Project Management - Getting Started." Enjoy!

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