Learn how to use Microsoft Project to manage agile projects. Author Luke Angel covers setting up agile projects for success, creating custom fields to track elements unique to the agile project method, such as features and sprints, and managing and updating agile task lists as work is completed. She also shows how to manage traditionally scheduled tasks and agile work side by side, track agile project progress, generate burndown reports, and determine your team's velocity.
In Agile projects, work is performed in short spurts called iterations or sprints. The idea behind an Agile approach is to deliver value earlier in frequent small chunks and to be able to accommodate changes more easily. Agile is great when an organization wants to obtain benefits sooner or business needs change frequently. You can work on what you know about the business' needs now. If those needs change, no problem. Changes are expected. You simply handle them in the next iteration. Although Agile is often used in IT projects, you can also use it on non-IT projects. Agile Project Management is simply the process you use to manage and implement Agile projects.
Before we get started, there are a couple of things you need to know about this course. First, it focuses on managing Agile Projects using Microsoft Project. You should already be familiar with Microsoft Project basics, like the ribbon, using Views, creating tasks, and assigning resources. Next, because there are quite a few Agile methodologies, this course uses Scrum as an example. I don't go into an in depth explanation of Scrum here.
This course covers how to use Microsoft Project to manage your project that follows the Scrum approach. If you're interested in learning more about Agile Project Management, you can find courses on that subject in the lynda.com online training library. The last thing about this course is it doesn't cover tracking backlog features from their initial suggestion through developing feature cards and estimating feature points. Instead, it picks up when features are ready to be assigned to sprints.
You'll find these files in the Exercise Files folder, which I've placed on the desktop, but you can store it wherever you like. These files reside in subfolders, named according to the chapters.
When you're managing an Agile Project, setting a few project options can make your work easier. In this section we are going to review how to do just that.
Sprints can be anywhere from two to twelve weeks long. In this Project, I'm using two week Sprints. That is, 10 working days. To keep the number of Sprint work days consistent it's important to tell Project about holidays and other non-working time. Well how do you set your working time in Project?
Project needs a little coaxing to display features, sprints, and releases the way you probably want to see them. Tracking and communicating progress also works differently in agile projects, compared to traditional project management. Custom fields are the key to making Project agile-friendly. To get to Custom Fields, on the Project tab, click the Custom Fields button. The basic fields you need are really simple. The first custom field we're going to create is one to designate a task as a backlog feature.
As you manage the product backlog, it's helpful to see the releases and sprints that features are assigned to. That way, you can take their feature points and priorities into account when you assign features to sprints. We're gonna create this new view using the feature list view as a foundation.
You can use a custom field to track the sprint velocities a team achieves. We're going to set up a custom field with the formula to do just that.
Project initiation and planning are just as important in Agile
projects as they are to traditional waterfall projects. In addition to defining
the project vision you define the release strategy and duration. In Microsoft
Project you can set up these tasks the way you would in waterfall projects,
with task dependencies and assigned resources, and let Project calculate the
schedule for you.
Like releases, sprints also have brief planning and wrap-up tasks. And
they're also linked and scheduled like traditionally scheduled tasks. In
Project you can copy the tasks from your first sprint to set up additional
As you manage the product backlog, it's helpful to see the releases
and sprints that features are assigned to. That way, you can take their feature
points and priorities into account when you assign features to sprints. We're
gonna create this new view using the feature list view as a foundation.
The product backlog isn't set in stone for the duration of an Agile
project. Requirements evolve as work progresses which means you might add
features to or remove features from the backlog. In addition you have to
estimate feature points and priorities before you can figure out which features
to assign to each sprint. To manage the backlog we're going to use the Product
During sprint planning, the team decides who's going to work on which
features. In Microsoft Project, you don't have to assign resources to featured
tasks if you don't want to. One reason to do that, though, is if you wanna track
burndown for work hours. Let's assign resources to the features
Because you don't plan an entire Agile project up front, you don't
baseline the entire project at once either. Initially, you can set a baseline
for tasks through the end of the first sprint. When that sprint is done, you
can baseline the next one. Once the baseline is in place, you can update
feature tasks to reflect the progress the team has made. Let's baseline this
Sprints don't take extra time if a feature isn't quite done. When a
feature isn't complete at the end of the sprint, it doesn't get partial credit
for its points. Instead, the feature gets moved to the next sprint. However,
you might reduce the points to reflect the fact that some portion of the work
is already done.
Project comes with several built-in reports that show overall project
performance. Agile projects also use what's known as a Burndown Report to see
how work is going. You can customize Project 2013 graphical reports to show
burndown and sprint velocity. To set up a report in Project 2013 we're gonna
head to the Report tab, then click Dashboards and choose Burndown on the
dropdown menu. The built-in Burndown Report has a chart for work burndown and
task burndown. We're gonna use this report as a basis for our custom report. To
create our custom report, on the Design tab click Manage and then choose Rename
Report. We're not actually renaming the report, we're really creating a copy
with a new name
In this section we will go over what is next in your agile journey.
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Thanks for looking at my courses. I am excited to bring you some awesome lessons I have learned along the way. I also love to talk about my favorite products that really help me stay ahead of the curve. I am an Architect, Developer, Product/Project Manger, and humble hustler focusing on building next generation application.
I am currently working as a Sr. Technical Cross Platform Program Manager at a Fortune 500 company building technology-driven marketing solutions with global reach and Netflix scale. I lead teams of developers to new heights by giving top of the line guidance on product deliverables, organizational techniques, and in general kicking butt. I hope you find my courses enjoyable and please contact me if you have any questions or would like any additional content covered that is not in one of the courses.
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