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Archive for 2009/05/11

Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 22 – Planning an agile project

2009/05/11 14 comments

Yes, I wasn’t supposed to do this just yet, but since the number 1 request after the last post was just how I use project during an agile Project, here goes.

1. Fix the settings

Tools—>Options is the first place to go. I start with the calendar settings setting a focus factor. In the example below, I use a 25 hour working week:

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I then move on to the Schedule tab and change assignment unit to Decimal and Duration to Weeks. Default task type should be Fixed duration (without effort driven) or Fixed Work, depending of what you like but here I use Fixed Duration.

I move on to the Calculation tab and deselect Updating task status updates resource status:

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I confirm with OK and move to Tools—>Change Working time.

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This dialog box works differently in different versions of Microsoft Project. In one of my previous posts, I described it as it works in version up until 2003. In version 2007 you select the Work Weeks tab and click Details.

Select all working days, Set day(s) to these specific working times: and the time you specified in Tools—>Options.

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Add other holidays and free time. In Project 2007 you add a new exception, specify dates and click Details. There you can specify that these times are non working. (I think the new dialog box in 2007 is really confusing so make sure that the days are really off. It should look something like this before you click OK:

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Then I double click the time scale and set the Middle Tier:

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And the Bottom Tier:

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Click OK.

Then I select Format—>Grid lines and set Gantt rows and Bottom Tier column as dotted:

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I insert the column Work and now I have a Gantt chart which looks something like this:

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I set the Project Start under Project—>Project Information:

ProjectInformation

Confirm with OK.

If I just want to make a simple plan, I just enter the sprints and add the sprint length in Duration:

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I then link the sprints to each other (for example by dragging the bars to the next sprint:

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You then move on to the Resource sheet which you can find under the View menu.

Here you enter your resources and now you see why you changed the metric for units: instead of talking percentage you specify how many guys you have of each type. Of course you can enter names here instead. I do so when different resources are available during different parts of the project.

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I can now for each sprint plan how many resources are working on each sprint by returning to the Gantt chart. I click AssignResources , select a sprint and enter how many resources are available during that sprint:

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The result looks something like this. As you can see I can see how many man hours we can count on during each sprint and this gives you an idea of how velocity might fluctuate due to resource changes.

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Now I can update status, take out reports, etc on a project level. For example using the Task Usage view:

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Or the resource usage view:

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Observe that you can right click the chart part of these views and add Baseline values and Actual values if you wish to view or update this.

But during the sprints then? Well, I use other tools then in the form of TFS and the Scrum dashboard based on Conchango Work item template. I have no need to track this double, so I don’t use the Project integration. Project is good for planning and follow up plans, not for keeping requirements or priorities,

If I’d used Project during the sprints, I would create a new project file for each sprint and insert hyperlinks between the files. Just so I focus on that sprint and don’t mix up the metrics.

And this is the full extent of my using Project in an agile project. The usage of the calendar functions makes it easy to calculate how much man hours we have available and since I use the Gantt chart form, it is easier to show the stuff for managers.

Yes, you still have the risk that “add a new resource late in the project” looks great in the calculations, but that is up to me to debate with the stakeholders. To make them understand the logic and the effects.

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