Key Principle: Keep Projects Small

Learn the effect of project size on the chances of success.

MORE EFFECTIVE WORK   The next seven chapters—from this chapter, “More Effective Agile Projects,” through “More Effective Agile Delivery”—describe details of how work is performed on Agile projects. The first two discuss how work is organized and special issues for handling work on large projects. The rest then discuss specific kinds of work, including quality work, testing, requirements, and delivery.

If you’re more interested in top-level leadership issues than detailed work issues, skip ahead to the “More Effective Agile Leadership” chapter. If your organization has struggled with large projects, consider reading the next chapter, “More Effective Large Agile Projects,” before skipping to “More Effective Agile Leadership.”

ABOUT THIS CHAPTER   The preceding chapter, “More Effective Individuals and Interactions,” discussed how to organize and support the people in Agile development. This chapter discusses how to organize and support Agile development work.

Most software development work is organized into “projects.” Organizations use numerous terms to describe their projects, including “product,” “program,” “release,” “release cycle,” “feature,” “value stream,” “work stream,” and other similar words and phrases.

Terminology varies significantly. Some organizations believe that “release” is the modern replacement for “project.” Others believe that “release” refers to sequential development and have abandoned use of that term. One organization defines a “feature” as a 3–9-person initiative that lasts for 1–2 years. In this chapter, I refer to all those kinds of work as projects—that is, multiple people working on coordinated deliverables over an extended time.

For the past 20 years, the most-publicized Agile successes have come from Agile use on small projects. Agile development for the first 10 years focused strongly on keeping projects small— teams made up of 5–10 people (e.g., 3–9 Development Team members, the Product Owner, and the Scrum Master). This emphasis on small projects has been important because small projects are much easier to complete successfully than large projects, as shown in the figure below.

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