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Agile Productivity Unleashed

Book Description

In today's challenging economic climate, organizations faced with limited budgets and frozen staffing levels need proven, common-sense approaches to maximize their productivity. Agile approaches are business practices with a proven track record for helping organizations achieve greater efficiency, higher-quality outputs and increased customer satisfaction. They enable organizations to avoid the trappings of extensive up-front planning and up-front budget commitments by encouraging staff to regularly produce high-value business outputs; and by basing ongoing financial and resource commitments on the delivered outcomes. This focus on responsive planning based on tangible outputs is why Agile approaches have been successfully used in selected industries for over two decades.

Agile Productivity Unleashed: Proven approaches for achieving real productivity gains in any organization introduces every industry sector to the Agile approaches that have dramatically improved the IT, product development and manufacturing sectors over the past two decades. The book clearly explains how the key principles of Agile approaches can be used to significantly increase productivity, quality and customer satisfaction in every business activity at your organization. Written in non-technical language specifically for business professionals, this book is an essential tool for anyone whose job it is to deliver high-quality results on time and on budget.

Benefits of introducing Agile...

  • Meet deadlines. Agile is designed to avoid the business risks involved in 'all-at-once' delivery, where a glitch during one stage of a project can throw the entire effort out of kilter, and result in serious delays in completion. This book shows how your organization can accommodate inevitable internal and external changes through responsive planning. By using Agile approaches, staff members no longer have to wait several weeks or months for an updated plan to be agreed, but can quickly adjust their work in line with new business requirements and priorities. In this way, Agile will help you to avoid project overrun and deliver on your commitments.
  • Minimize waste. Agile approaches continually focus staff on the value stream, i.e. those activities that directly result in the highest business value generation for the organization. This book shows you how to use business process optimization, fixed deadlines and imminent timeframes to insure that delivery teams do not fall into the common traps of overproduction, excess movement or under-utilized people.
  • Reduce costs. If a project is heavily planned in advance, but its results are only available after the work has been completed, then flaws can be very expensive to correct. Instead, Agile approaches promote initial and ongoing stakeholder engagement, and take deliberate steps to encourage this feedback throughout the project. This means that business requirements can be confirmed (and problems detected) earlier on, and corrected at a much lower cost to the organization.
  • Improve communication. No matter how precise the blueprint, it is never going to be a substitute for the close co-operation between people of different skills that is required to deliver successful outcomes. This book shows you how to achieve results that are aligned with business needs by keeping the delivery team in close contact with each other — and with the business areas — as the project progresses.
  • Empower the team. Agile approaches allow each delivery team to determine the volume of high-priority work that they are capable of delivering within the individual phases of a project. In this way, delivery teams are given a sense of responsibility for completing the work required within the timeframe they have set for themselves, and feel motivated to deliver work of a quality that will continue to satisfy the stakeholders.

Proven results...

Over the past two decades, Agile approaches have had a revolutionary impact on software development in many small- and medium-sized IT companies, as well as big corporations like Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google. Thanks to their focus on responsive planning, tangible outputs and waste management, Agile approaches have also led to equally dramatic improvements in the product development and manufacturing sectors.

Agile Productivity Unleashed shows how organizations in every industry sector can benefit by using proven, common-sense Agile approaches to deliver successful outcomes across a full range of business activities.

Table of Contents

  1. FOREWORD
  2. PREFACE
  3. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  5. CONTENTS
  6. INTRODUCTION
    1. Agile: an executive summary
  7. SECTION 1: A CASE STUDY
  8. A CASE STUDY: TRADITIONAL VERSUS AGILE APPROACHES
    1. Website building in a competitive marketplace
    2. The traditional approach
    3. The Agile approach
    4. Product marketing in a competitive marketplace
    5. Order fulfillment in a competitive marketplace
    6. But what about my organization?
    7. The path forward
  9. SECTION 2: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AGILE
  10. CHAPTER 1: AGILE IN A NUTSHELL
    1. Understanding Agile principles
    2. Agile in action
    3. Manifesto for Agile Software Development24
    4. Popular Agile methods
    5. Who uses Agile?
  11. CHAPTER 2: WHY IS AGILE SO EFFECTIVE?
    1. Management of controllable risk
    2. Minimal start-up costs
    3. Initial and ongoing returns
  12. CHAPTER 3: WHY DON’T MORE ORGANIZATIONS USE AGILE?
  13. CHAPTER 4: AGILE SOUNDS GOOD, BUT …
  14. SECTION 3: 12 AGILE PRINCIPLES THAT WILL REVOLUTIONIZE YOUR ORGANIZATION
  15. CHAPTER 5: RESPONSIVE PLANNING
    1. Why every upfront plan fails
    2. Apply, Inspect, Adapt
    3. Defining (and refining) your goals
    4. Paving the pathway
    5. Empowering the delivery team
    6. The critical decision points
    7. When to walk away
    8. Publicizing your success
  16. CHAPTER 6: BUSINESS-VALUE-DRIVEN WORK
    1. Real productivity
    2. Dancing around the budget bonfire
    3. Over-delivery is wasted money
    4. Measuring cost/benefit
    5. Communicating actionable goals and priorities
    6. Drawing the line
    7. When priorities change
    8. It’s more than the baton
  17. CHAPTER 7: HANDS-ON BUSINESS OUTPUTS
    1. The “try before you buy” power position
    2. There is no substitute for reality
    3. Mitigating risk
    4. Continuous delivery of valuable outputs
    5. When the end does not justify the means
  18. CHAPTER 8: REAL-TIME CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
    1. Every audience is a customer
    2. The false security of market testing
    3. Intrinsic customer satisfactio
    4. The “expert by proxy” myth
    5. Hiring a customer
    6. Using the customer to manage your budget
  19. CHAPTER 9: IMMOVABLE DEADLINES
    1. Why you should never move a deadline
    2. The power of imminent timeframes
    3. Early delivery means early payback
    4. Setting the next deadline
  20. CHAPTER 10: MANAGEMENT BY SELF-MOTIVATION
    1. “I’m not going to do it – and you can’t make me”
    2. The top-down and bottom-up management myths
    3. The power of self-organized teams
    4. Giving the team a higher purpose
    5. In my estimation …
    6. Trusting the team
    7. Why shorter deadlines lead to happier employees
    8. The end of overtime
    9. Success breeds motivation
  21. CHAPTER 11: “JUST-IN-TIME” COMMUNICATION
    1. When was the last time you attended a valuable meeting?
    2. Redefining the corporate meeting
    3. What can you do in five minutes?
    4. Knowledge transfer through pairing, co-location and cross-training
    5. Documentation is no substitute
    6. The most valuable meeting of all
  22. CHAPTER 12: IMMEDIATE STATUS TRACKING
    1. The end of the monthly report
    2. The requirements backlog
    3. The delivery backlog
    4. The executive dashboard
    5. Burndown charts
    6. Measuring productivity by outputs
    7. Tracking overall progress in the requirements backlog
    8. Tracking day-to-day work in the delivery backlog
    9. The power of the “burndown” chart
    10. The real-time executive dashboard
    11. Early and continuous delivery tracking
    12. Redefining risk management
  23. CHAPTER 13: WASTE MANAGEMENT
    1. What is waste management?
    2. It’s what you don’t do that matters
    3. The power and peril of the value stream
    4. The waiting game
    5. Movement without added value
    6. Task-switching and time leakage
    7. Doing it right the first time
    8. “Just-in-time” versus “just-in-case”
    9. Maximizing your resources
  24. CHAPTER 14: CONSTANTLY MEASURABLE QUALITY
    1. How much does quality cost?
    2. Weight control and the bathroom scale
    3. True quality requires a culture change
    4. The impact of high communication
    5. Quality by design
    6. Fit-for-purpose outputs
    7. The (almost) real-time measuring stick
    8. Exponential returns on your quality investment
  25. CHAPTER 15: REARVIEW MIRROR CHECKING
    1. Slight imperfections
    2. You only need to glance at the mirror …
    3. What a retrospective is – and is not
    4. The self-correcting team
    5. Changing your travel plans
  26. CHAPTER 16: CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
    1. Become better – or become obsolete
    2. One step back – five steps forward
    3. Regular review and adjustment
    4. Quantifying and measuring improvement
    5. Bringing it all together
  27. SECTION 4: MAKING AGILE WORK IN YOUR ORGANIZATION
  28. CHAPTER 17: SELECTING AGILE APPROACHES THAT BEST MEET YOUR NEEDS
    1. The five fundamental questions
    2. Question 1: What are the biggest issues that my organization is currently facing?
    3. Question 2: Are the people in my organization ready for a significant change in the way they currently work?
    4. Question 3: To what extent can I influence the decision to use Agile approaches in the organization?
    5. Question 4: Are the intended participants in the Agile approaches sufficiently aware of both the processes and their roles?
    6. Question 5: Which Agile approaches are best suited to my organization?
    7. The Agile approaches selection tool
    8. Using Agile approaches for future activities
    9. Using Agile approaches for current activities
  29. CHAPTER 18: INTRODUCING AGILE WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION
    1. Dip your toes or dive right in?
    2. Choosing the right kick-off point
    3. Agile-by-stealth
    4. A shared understanding of Agile
  30. CHAPTER 19: USING AGILE TOOLS
    1. Responsive budgeting
    2. Expected business-value calculation
    3. The requirements backlog
    4. The burndown chart
    5. The delivery backlog
  31. CHAPTER 20: EXPANDING THE USE OF AGILE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION
  32. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    1. Agile resources
    2. Cost/benefit calculation resources
    3. Other industry resources
  33. AUTHOR’S NOTE ON AGILE RESOURCES
  34. ITG RESOURCES
    1. Other Websites