Agile Portfolio Management – 1

A few people have been asking about “Agile Portfolio Management,” or at least, “How do we manage this stuff?” What they mean is what I call Agile Portfolio Management. Agile Portfolio Management is of course distinct from Scrum, but for simplicity, I have assumed a Scrum context.

First, Scrum is relatively silent on this subject, which is well and good. It is an advanced subject, and one can’t implement all of Agile in a single go. So, better to make it an advanced topic.

Still, I have heard others say that if one gets “demand management” down (controlled) in an Agile way, then all the team stuff (e.g., all the other Scrum stuff) becomes so much easier to implement. A reasonable position.

One might say: Mura, muri, muda. That is to say:

  • Establish an evenness of flow first
  • do not overstress the system
  • and then remove waste

Let’s unpack these for a moment.

You can’t get evenness of flow if the team is constantly being interrupted (for example). So, demand management means you have to control the flow of demand (new features) into the team to eliminate interruptions (and allow change). And to enable focus by the Team on the next release.

You have to get business (and the team) willing to identify each team’s capacity and NOT over-stress the team by asking them to deliver more than their capacity. When you over-stress, you actually reduce the real capacity of the team.

Thus, removing waste, in simple terms, is removing the impediments identified by Scrum. (This will mean that the Team’s velocity will go up.)

Next, some discussion of “single Product Backlog” (for multiple teams) and “chief Product Owner.”




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