Performing a Simple Process Health Checkup

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is good. If you can't see each other or easily talk, developing the habit of quickly instant messaging when a question arises can help. If questions are answered quickly within your team, score your team high.

4. Focus

Does everyone understand the goal and desired outcome of the delivered software? Do people know the top-priority items they should be working on? Are they guaranteed at least two days in a row with two uninterrupted hours each day to work on them?

Knowing what you're doing and why and having the time to do it is critical to success. In some organizations, you may know what you should be doing but have little understanding of the purpose of the software you're building and how it benefits its users. In some organizations, interruptions dominate or team members may be scheduled on multiple projects so that they have little time on any one project. Score your team high if you have clarity of purpose at the team and individual levels and have enough time to make progress.

5. Personal Safety

Can you give your boss bad news? Can people end long debates about each other's designs with friendly disagreement?

Ideally team members will have trust in each other's abilities, opinions, and judgment. The first step to building that trust is being able to speak freely without concern of political or social risk. Failure to deliver bad news out of fear keeps a project from recovering and improving from setbacks. Fear of sharing opinions can impede collaborative activities. Score your project high if members of your team can and do speak freely.

6. Easy Access to Outside Experts

Does it take less than three days from when you have a question to when an expert answers it? How about a few hours?

To understand the context that helps you make decisions about product requirements, you'll need access to subject matter experts, business stakeholders, and users of all types and experience levels. You'll need access to these people to validate prospective software designs and finished software. Ideally, access is easy and frequent. In the worst cases, you won't get the information you need or be able to validate decisions until after delivery. Score your project high if you know who your experts are and have easy and frequent access to them.

7. Strong Technical Environment

Do your developers use the configuration management system? Are your verification tests automated? Do you integrate the system at least twice per week?

To make additions and changes to software quickly requires a technical environment that minimizes risks associated with change. Configuration management and frequent code integration followed by automated regression tests reduce risk associated with change. Score your project high if your team has strong technical tools and practices.

8. Sunny Day Visibility

Does everyone on the team understand the rate of progress being made on the product? The feedback from users and stakeholders? The risks to the current delivery?

As the construction of the product is in motion, it's important to be able to see the rate of progress and how that affects plans. As we gather feedback from users, it's important that everyone understand how the product solutions are holding up to actual product use. Score your project high if anyone on the team can quickly answer questions about the rate of delivery relative to the plan and how the product actually is holding up to user feedback.

9. Regular Cadence or Rhythm

Do important process activities happen on a regular and predictable cycle?

A characteristic common to most agile approaches, including Scrum, is a regular cadence

About the author

Jeff Patton's picture Jeff Patton

Jeff Patton leads Agile Product Design, a small consultancy that focuses on creating healthy processes that result in products that customers love. Articles, essays, and blog can be found at www.AgileProductDesign.com. Information about public classes, including Certified Scrum Training, can be found at www.AgileProductDesign.com/training.

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