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How to ensure visibility to management in agile mode

How to ensure visibility to management in agile mode

Taru Weckroth, Midagon Oy
Lähde: Midagon Oy

Working in more or less agile way is reality to many project teams. Sometimes the project and especially program portfolio management is the part of the organization that lags behind in this transition to more agile ways of working. A common issue for many of our clients is how to report project status to management when teams are working in agile mode. The management is used to receiving regular status reports.

On the other hand, the teams that work genuinely in agile mode are setting up information radiators like Kanban boards and burn charts in their workspaces, and holding regular demos and retrospectives. These are excellent ways to share information within teams. A common practical issue that we see often in real projects is that this information that is highly transparent and nearly real-time on team level is not available to people higher up in the organization.

Due to time constraints portfolio management can’t be expected to join detailed demo sessions or collect the information they need from the information radiators. They need to know whether the project provides value as expected, and what are the main issues and risks requiring their guidance or authorization for team decisions. There should be a simple way to share the information with top management on a very simple and practical level.

Scaled Agile Framework provides tools for this issue, since management (as well as everyone else) works in agile mode, and information from teams in condensed up to higher levels. There are portfolio level Kanban and roadmaps showing the way at least a few sprints, but sometimes a lot longer, into future.

However, not all organizations are yet at that level of maturity. In the meantime, what we recommend is that scrum masters or persons in other similar team coordination roles set up a scrum of scrums, or other similar meeting, where information from team burn charts and other information radiators are condensed in a management-friendly way.

There is no need to return to traditional status reporting just to keep management informed. On the other hand, there is no excuse to allow “glass ceilings” for information sharing at any level of the organization. The sooner the management becomes familiar with visual and transparent information sharing in agile mode, the sooner the whole organization gets to enjoy the same benefits.