One of the advantages of agile project management is having a team that is fully involved in the management process, thus maximising the positive results.
This is not unique to only agile project management, but it is possible to incorporate the team into any system or technique being used. It is, however, imperative that every team member feels ownership and control over their work and that it doesn’t seem incongruous, burdensome or irrelevant. To ensure this, we can follow some simple tips.
For the project members to really feel in control of their work, they must be a part of the process whereby tasks are assigned and defined. It is possible that during this process of structuring the tasks, the project manager may have to outline a fairly detailed model, but ultimately, it is those who are responsible for those specific tasks that will have to detail more precisely even the lowest level activities. It should be the team members who advise on how tasks be organized, and what level of detail is necessary to ensure that the tasks are managed and micro managed efficiently, effectively and at the highest level.
The ‘top-down’ estimate is needed in many projects, but should always be compared and contrasted to a ‘bottom-up’ estimate. Let the team members estimate the effort required for each of the different tasks without any restrictions. Once that is done, do a comparison between the top-down and bottom-up estimates. It may actually surprise you.
Sometimes the team may underestimate the effort needed, usually because they were unaware of certain factors, or did not take into account certain risks. In other cases there may be an overestimation, where the team has predicted a bigger effort than necessary, perhaps out of fear of making mistakes, ambiguity of the scope or uneasiness about taking certain uncontrollable risks like the use of a new tool or new technology.
Nevertheless, it is important to reach an agreement and not to strictly impose the estimate. It is possible that there will be a need to discuss the elimination of security buffers and it may be necessary to revisit the scope or revise some of the risks.Ultimately, reaching a consensus on the estimate will ensure that the team feels in control of their work and that it is done well.
The team must feel that they are being heard and must be able to mark the progress of their work, communicating any incidents and delays using clear and simple mechanisms. These messages should reach the project manager who should not neglect them, but respond quickly. If the team feels that they are being supported and encouraged by the project manager they will see him/her as one who enables and empowers the work, not simply ‘supervises’ the work, devaluing the effort being put forth. There should be careful communication throughout the process.
With a team that feels ownership and control of their work, there will be stable and definite progress, speedy response time to any deviations or incidents and it will be easier to attain the desired success of the project.