An Agile Journey

{02/25/2010}   What is an Iteration Manager and why do we need one?

An Iteration Manager plays an important part on an Agile project.  They are a person embedded within the team undertaking a ‘role’ to help plan and deliver a project.  From my experiences an Iteration Manager role can be undertaken by any one of the project team.

I’ve been part of projects where the Iteration Manager was a Developer, BA, Project Lead/Manager or a Tester.  I’m a tester who picked up the role within the project I was working on.  I have also come across some larger projects that have a full time Iteration Manager due to the size and scope of the project.

So back to ‘What is an Iteration Manager?’.  Part of my definition would be ‘An inward facing organiser and facilitator that works within the project and does not dictate but collaborates (yes sorry had to use the buzz word) with the rest of the project team’.

Some of the IM tasks may include –

*  Setting up meetings i.e. Kick Off/Close, Estimation, Prioritisation and Elaboration meetings
*  Story card management – ensuring that the cards are correct and are included and prioritised correctly for the release and iteration (we use JIRA for this)
*  Update wall – make sure the correct cards are in the iteration and in priority on the wall
*  Reporting – producing the velocity charts (burn up/burn down)
*  Kick Off/Close reporting – going over the Scope for the next iteration or completed iteration
*  Update the big visual chart if you have one (I created a BVC that had the current iteration and next iterations scope displayed in features so the business could see what they were expecting to be delivered within the next couple of iterations)
*  Following up card completion – keeping constant communication open with the team on how the iteration is tracking

So ‘Why do we need one?’ – to have a central point that will aid in the delivery of the project.                    

What are my tips and learnings from being an IM? –

*  Make sure everyone understands your role upfront
*  Explain the processes in the beginning so everyone is on the same page i.e. estimation, elaboration, prioritisation, stand ups etc
*  Get everyone onboard – people ‘Not on the Bus’ tend to spend more time fighting the processes then working with it
*  Being an organised person definately helps in undertaking the IM role
*  Be flexible – things are bound to change i.e. scope
*  Be prepared to have the conversation – if new scope is added you have to be able to explain the impact of this and options i.e reprioritisation
*  Be creative – if you see the business is struggling to understand what is happening create some visuals to help them
*  Most importantly upskill others for the IM role – this way if you are absent from work someone else is able to pick up the role so things keep running smoothly

Well I hope this first post gives some insight into the IM role.  I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks!!! 

🙂  Rene

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