new year, new projects – a fresh start

With the new year comes a fresh new crop of initiatives targeted for the upcoming twelve months. And those initiatives ain’t gonna drive themselves to completion. This is where the project manager / scrummaster steps in resolutely and takes control.

First, the tech leads of each team get together with the SMs and POs and hold a very important conversation: yearly scoping (aka commitments). The POs & product staff define the initiatives in broad strokes, then the tech leads discuss with each other what it takes to get these projects done. Slowly a list of Ins and a list of Outs begin to take shape. Bartering ensues. The scrummasters help by facilitating the meeting, making sure opinions are voiced from those less vocal.

The next priority for project managers (SMs) is to set up the necessary project spaces. At SendGrid we use JIRA and Confluence to track story progress and post documentation (respectively). Getting backlogs started, versions lined up and items labeled, the team is ready to begin breaking down the highest priority initiative into epics, user stories and tasks.

The scrummasters will next set appropriate ceremonies within the sprint cadence, including demos, retrospectives, and backlog grooming sessions. The POs continue breaking the stories down as finely grained as possible, and the teams begin work on the top-ranked stories.

It is the job of the project manager / scrummaster to aggressively take control of these projects and lead them down the path to success. The SM is the enforcer of solid agile practices, and they rely on their project management skills to drive and communicate the progress of the teams.

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