You might be a Project Management Redneck if….

With Kudos and possibly apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, I was thinking a good discussion might be the warning signs when you might just be a Project Management Redneck and aren’t really buying into Agile. But what is a Project Management Redneck?

A sample definition might be..

Project Management Redneck

A slang term, usually for a Traditional Project Manager who is conservative, risk-adverse,  controlling, non-collaborative, mistrusting of the client, and a methodology fundamentalist. This term is generally considered offensive. It originated in reference to the colour of the status of their projects and in some given circumstances the colour of their complexion during User Acceptance Testing.

So without further ado:

You just might be a Project Management Redneck if…

1. You are using MS Project

OK, all kidding aside this really has to be the number one entry. I think we have all been there and tried to manage our first Agile project using MS project and faithfully tried to enter a Work Breakdown Structure into it. Nothing against MS project, but it really is not the easiest tool to oversee a project. (Hey, I didn’t get struck by lightning!) All of the metrics it produces really do not apply for agile projects. Most importantly the managing of the project is something the entire team does. Not the job of one team member using the one license of MS Project.

Now you actually could use the tool to manage user stories, but why? Seriously, We just thank MS Project for helping to show a better way and MS Project should just be put in the bin with other useful constructs of the past like 8 tracks and projection TVs.

2. You do not have a Kan Ban board

Closely related to using MS Project, if you don’t have a Kan Ban board to measure your progress and the Kan Ban board isn’t the barometer of your project, then you really are a Project Management Redneck. The Kan Ban board needs to be the social hub of the entire project where all the daily stand ups and status discussions are held. It also needs to be out in the open so that everyone knows the status and can quickly see the progress.

You also may be a Project Management Redneck if you copied a Kan Ban board and didn’t modify it. This has got to be one of the basic premises of Agile. Instead of just copying, we need to embrace change and risk taking.

Traditional: Copy and Paste

Agile: Copy and Progress

3. You did not use Planning Poker to estimate (or other collaboration tools)

Collaboration is very critical to not being a Project management Redneck. If you segment deliverables assign them to roles and have deliverables created in isolation and seek consensus only for sign off and not creation, you ARE a Project Management Redneck. Very little  created in isolation is of higher quality. As a Project Manager if you feel that you only need to be responsible for the budget and not understand the functionality, business domain, or technology…. then you are a …well you get the idea….

A great example of this is the exercise of planning poker. Almost every project manager will bemoan incorrect estimates and the Redneck Project Managers will expect that correct estimates will be given by different people at different times with different experience levels and almost no context. (sometimes they even create the estimates themselves or hold teams to estimate made by other people)

Velocity is your friend!

4. You take comfort in a User Acceptance Testing phase and you have ‘testing’ resources

User Acceptance Testing, the last refuge of the Redneck Project Manager. If you take comfort in a large UAT phase and believe you have to have resources that only test, you are a Redneck Project Manager. This big bang implementation of testing is a thing of the past. Lets all agree that nothing good ever accompanies a big bang. Usually it is accompanied by fire, shrieks of pain, heat, and of course defects.

Testing needs to proceed the actual development on a project. Testing needs to be incorporated across the entire duration of the project and across multiple team members. In this way everyone has shared responsibility to the testing and quality of the entire solution and it isn’t just the responsibility of that testing team that joins the team late.

And Testing must be automated!

Once you integrate the testing into the daily cycle of the project and have testing preceding development, you can achieve projects with Zero defects.

5. Your team and client is not co-located and you like it that way!

Co-location is paramount to the success of a project. If you like to have an office and be separate from the team and spend quality time with your project plan, then you are a Redneck Project Manager. You have to be with your team and be part of the discussions. Every project manager complains about not knowing of issues on the project. Trust me, if you sit with your team you will know of every issue…

The client also needs to be co-located. If you feel that having the client co-located will result in more changes you are correct. But ultimately this will result in a better solution and client satisfaction.

Traditional Project Managers manage the plan, Agile Project Managers help the team deliver value to the client.