PMI-ACP Tools and Techniques: Agile Analysis And Design

PMI-ACP exam: Agile analysis and design

[PMI-ACP® Exam Study Notes] Agile Analysis And Design is one of the ten Tools and Techniques for the PMI-ACP® exam. The “Tools and Techniques” accounts for a total of 50% of all the questions to be found on the exam paper. According to the PMI-ACP® exam content outline, Agile Analysis And Design includes Agile product roadmap, user stories/backlog, story maps, progressive elaboration, wireframes, Agile project chartering, personas and Agile modeling.

PMI-ACP® Exam Importance: around 3-6 questions (~5% of all questions)

PMI-ACP® Tools and Techniques: Agile Analysis And Design

  • Agile analysis and design involves analyzing the product backlog, prioritizing the backlog items, creating story maps and elaborating the design progressively
  • Requirement Hierarchy: Epics -> Features -> User Stories -> Tasks
  • Agile Product Roadmap
    • a high-level view of product features (theme / epic for the imminent product releases) to support the product vision
    • to categorize and prioritize requirements and to suggest the release schedule
    • The customer [Scrum: Product Owner] creates and owns the project vision (revisited annually) and product roadmap (revisited twice a year)
    • also includes a list of customer required features, the architecture needed to support them and the business value of the releases
  • User Stories
    • user stories: user requirement (small bite-sized understandable chunks of business functionality) written on small cards with the typical template of

      As a <type of user>, I want <some goals> so that <some reasons>; OR

      Given <a situation>, when <some actions>, then <some actions> (useful for non-functional / system-based requirements)

    • user stories must provide values to the customer and be INVEST:
      • Independent – user stories can be re-prioritize and developed in any order
      • Negotiable – can be negotiated between development team and customer
      • Valuable – can add value to the project
      • Estimatable – can be estimated for the efforts involved
      • Small – keep user stories small, i.e. between 0.5 – 10 days
      • Testable – can be tested to confirm completion
    • user stories is preferable if it impact all architectural layers of the systems:
      • presentation layer
      • validation layer
      • business layer
      • database layer
    • User Story vs Use Case
      • Use Case is used for written communication for projects following Agile Unified Process. The description is more elaborated (i.e. long and detailed).
      • User Story is used for general Agile projects as backlog items
  • Backlog / User Story Backlog
    • a backlog is a collection of prioritized user requirements, usually expressed as user stories
      the product backlog will become inputs to the release planning
    • product backlog: is a list of requirements (as user stories) to be implemented in the product, updated by the product owner [in XP, the term user stories is used]
    • iteration backlog: a list of tasks, with time estimation, to be performed by individual team member on daily basis, updated by team members
    • if the items on the iteration backlog cannot be finished in the iteration, the item is put back to the product backlog
    • defect backlog: a list of bugs and issues
    • non-functional backlog: a list of process improvement / quality / system items
  • Story Maps
    • story maps: a way to arrange related user stories into a structured model to help team members to understand the big picture of the requirements and the product
      • core requirements / features are grouped into each release
      • additional features will be left for subsequent releases
    • functional dependencies can also be visualized
    • help to prioritize user stories for roadmap / release planning
  • Wireframes
    • a prototyping tool to visualize functional / behavioral arrangements (the relative prioritization) without going into the details of visual design
    • useful for products with human-computer interaction (e.g. user interface UI)
    • focuses on “what a screen does, not what it looks like”
  • Personas
    • a character created to represent the attributes of a group of typical product users
      • provide archetypal descriptions of users
      • goal-oriented, specific and relevant
      • can be based on a real person or composites of multiple users (must be grounded in reality)
      • tangible and actionable
      • to generate focus, e.g. when determining whether a feature is needed, can ask questions like “does Personas David need it?”
    • assist in decision making on features/functionality, priority and visual design
    • augment requirements
    • includes: name, photo, description, values, tasks to perform, etc.

Agile Analysis And Design Tools and Techniques

  • Agile Project Chartering
    • The project charter is a formal document to justify, explain, define and authorize a project including the following elements (at a minimum):
      • Vision: “why” of the project (purpose)
      • Mission: “what” of the project (what will be done)
      • Success Criteria: “how” to define success
    • Addresses the 5W1H of the project (Why, What, Who, When, Where, How)
    • Can be detailed and formally approved or barely sufficient
    • Unlike the PMBOK® Guide, there is no pre-defined formal process in Agile to create the project charter
    • Must be created for Agile projects and traditional projects alike
  • Progressive Elaboration
    • over time the team’s knowledge about the product increases which allows more elaborated insights into the work packages so that estimations and planning will become more accurate
      • including plans, estimates, risks, tests, requirements, etc.
      • e.g. breaking down of user stories into tasks is done only for backlogs in the current iteration (just-in-time elaboration)
    • to delay making commitment which will reduce wastes
    • also known as Rolling wave planning: an iterative planning technique making use of progressive elaboration to only elaborate on near-term work plans while keeping future work plans with bare details
  • Agile Modeling
    • Agile Modeling in details
      • Agile Modeling a practice-based methodology (including a collection of values, principles, and practice) for effective modeling and documentation of software-based systems based on best practices
        • a model is a pre-defined way of doing things
      • more flexible than traditional modeling methods (e.g. requirements collection -> specifications drafting -> specifications approval -> development -> testing -> launch) to fit fast-changing environments
      • Agile modeling can be tailored, used alone and is supplementary to other Agile methodologies (e.g. XP, RUP)
      • five core values of Agile modeling:
        • communication – good communication is a must
        • simplicity – keep it simple
        • feedback – constructive and valuable feedback from customers/team
        • courage – have courage to try new ways of doing things
        • humanity – human at the centre
      • best practices:
        • Just barely good enough (JBGE) artifacts (the KISS principle)
        • Architecture envisioning at the beginning for  a viable technical strategy
        • Lookahead modeling is used to reduce overall risk.
        • Multiple models to fit the use
        • Active stakeholder participation
        • Requirements envisioning at the beginning to identify the scope of the project
        • Prioritized requirements according to values
        • Iteration modeling as part of the iteration planning
        • Test-driven development (TDD) – a JIT approach to write requirements as tests
        • Model storming on a just-in-time (JIT) basis for requirement/design issue.
        • Document continuously
        • Document late
    • also refers to the various modeling techniques that are commonly used on Agile projects
      • examples
        • use case diagrams
        • data models
        • screen designs
      • Agile models are often lightweight (often hand sketched without being polished) and recorded with photography
      • better be lightweight, easy to change and barely sufficient

Summary: Agile Analysis And Design

This PMI-ACP® Exam Study notes touches upon one of the many tools and techniques of the PMI-ACP® exam syllabus – Agile Analysis And Design. Agile Analysis And Design knowledge includes Agile product roadmap, user stories/backlog, story maps, progressive elaboration, wireframes, Agile project chartering, personas and Agile modeling.


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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