My Top 5 Agile Tools

Here are my top 5 Agile tools to provide ‘just enough’ information and demonstrate control.

1. The Product Canvas

Understanding the problem and why we need to solve it is key to identify the right solution. Similarly, setting your sights on the ‘end game’ will help you to determine your vision and provide you with a collective idea of ‘what good looks like’; building from firm foundations. Building a product board enables you to share all valuable documentation with the team and stakeholders to ensure a universal understanding of the project and its intended benefits. Consider the following:

• Defining your problem statement (current state)
• Defining your vision statement (future state)
• Presenting the benefits your solution will deliver
• Getting the right people involved
• Identifying the key needs, behaviours and gaols of the customers
• Identifying the different personas impacted by the project
• How the solution fits with the organisations strategy and objectives
• Managing the commercials upfront

2. Personas

Personas are a powerful technique to gather and document knowledge about the users of a product. They can be different representations of customers or impacted stakeholders. The technique enables you to identify the goals and behaviours of a targeted set of users and helps to identify a range of scenarios derived from the perspective of these fictitious characters to help infer what a real person might need. Consider the following:

• Creating personas before requirements gathering, based on what you know about the customers and stakeholders
• Observing behaviours
• Using market/customer insights
• Not to overdo it: keep the level of information concise but meaningful
• Creating a range of different persona types
• Making personas visible and accessible to everyone
• Adjusting your personas as you learn more about them
• Choosing a ‘primary’ persona: the main beneficiary of the product to help shape the solution to deliver the optimum need
• Get creative and make your persona believable:

o Give them a name and back story
o Give them a picture
o Detail their characteristics and behaviours

• Trying this persona creator

3. User Stories

User Stories are a fantastic way of gathering requirements. Elaborating from the product vision through to Themes, Epics and identifying a single INVESTable feature in the form of a User Story.

User Stories are an invitation for a conversation, by following the three Cs: Card, Conversation, Confirmation you will produce ‘just enough’ documentation through collaboration.

Follow INVEST to produce good User Stories. User Stories must be:

Independent – Negotiable – Valuable – Estimable – Small – Testable

Consider the following:

• Defining the vision and working from there
• Breaking the vision down into key themes of delivery
• Identifying what you need to deliver the Themes, then documenting them as Epics
• Identifying what you need to deliver the Epics, then documenting them as User Stories
• Identifying the characteristics and behaviours of the User Stories, then documenting them as Acceptance Criteria
• Following a customer journey to identify the breakdown

4. The Epic Board

Epics often span more than one iteration and don’t tend to be represented well within a sprint. Creating an Epic board will enable you to manage incremental delivery and iterative development by demonstrating the traceability between the User Stories in a sprint and the Epic. Epic boards can be represented as a product roadmap, and will provide the valuable project/programme information required to manage delivery. Consider the following:

• The key milestones of your product
• Demonstrating traceability between Epics and User Stories
• Demonstrating where work on the Epic will begin and end
• Demonstrating what/when the benefits will be delivered

5. The Kanban Board

A Kanban board allows you to communicate more effectively with your team, signalling what work needs to be done and by when, during the development lifecycle. The board provides a visual representation of throughput and allows you to identify and remedy areas of contention. Consider the following:

• Making the Kanban board visible for all to see
• Locate the Kanban board alongside the Product Canvas to help conceptualise the tasks presented
• Arrange the board into the following swim lanes

o Pending
o Analysis, split by ‘doing’ and ‘done’
o Development, split by ‘doing’ and ‘done’
o Test, split by ‘doing’ and ‘done’
o Deploy

• Provide a section to capture risks and issues to help identify areas of contention

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Tanic Ltd

Tanic Ltd

Discovered in a Yorkshire vineyard is Tanic, the small consulting business focused on creating operational effectiveness through Targeted Problem Solving.