PMI-ACP Study Notes: Agile Project Execution

PMI-ACP Study Notes - Agile Project Execution

[PMI-ACP® Exam Study Notes] The distinction between Agile Planning and Agile Project Execution is not clear cut. In fact, for Agile projects, planning is interwoven into the project execution following the plan-do-check-act cycles. Analysis and planning is performed for every iteration and even every day of Agile life.

Working with Agile

  • Agile terms
    • Velocity – a measure of Agile project progress (e.g. the number of story points in each iteration), useful for predicting and planning future releases
      • note that if a task is not 100% finish, the story point will NOT be counted towards the iteration, e.g. 50% completeness of a task with 100 story point gives 0 story point
    • Cycle time – the amount of time for a feature from start (entering into the product backlog) to finish (done), the shorter the better
    • Burn rate – the amount of cost estimated over a given period of time (e.g. $1000 per day)
    • Escaped defects – defects that are discovered by the customer, used for tracking the effectiveness of testing and quality control measures
      • if the escaped defects trend up, a root cause analysis should be carried out
    • Agile smells – Agile term for “symptoms of a problem”
  • Agile concepts
    • Verification – ensures functionality meets requirements
    • Validation – ensures the deliverable works as intended
    • Refactoring – [for codes] re-organizes and simplifies the code without changing the behavior
    • Osmotic communications – takes up information through overhearing communication between other members and participate if deemed relevant, usually for co-located teams
    • Information radiators – display of key info in a highly visible location for communicating project progress
    • Agile Earned Value Management (EVM) – make use of the velocity to calculate planned value and actual story points completed for the current iteration as the actual value
    • Incremental delivery – by its nature, Agile project embraces incremental delivery – get working parts to end users as fast as possible
    • Kaizen – a Japanese management philosophy of continuous checking and improvement
    • Spikes – a short experimental test to help decisions making, e.g. trying a new technology for feasibility study
    • Stakeholder Management – managing stakeholders and their expectations is one of the core responsibilities of the Agile team
  • Agile artifacts
    • Product backlog – responsible by the customer, the product backlog is a complete prioritized listing of all features/user stories for the Agile project, the priority is usually based on the perceived value by the customer
      • grooming – add items based on new user stories and delete old items
      • [DEEP] Detailed appropriately, Estimable, Emergent, Prioritized
      • Risk-adjusted backlog – usually the product backlog would need to be re-prioritized based on risk analysis input from the team and stakeholders and balance the “risk vs value” factor
        • risks are usually considered to be possible negative impacts (though there are many possible positive impacts)
    • Iteration backlog – responsible by the team, the iteration backlog contains tasks for the iteration, tasks are allocated through self-organization
    • Burn-down charts – show the tasks remaining (in story points, etc.) over the project life
    • Burn-up charts – show the tasks completed (in story points, etc.) over the project life, better than burn-down charts as scope changes are clearly visible
    • Kanban boards – a task board showing the progress of tasks through the project processes, can be tailor-made to suit individual projects
      • a WIP limit (work-in-progress) would be enforced to ensure efficiency; work-in-progress are tasks that have been started but not yet done
    • Cumulative flow diagrams – a chart showing the state of all tasks through the project processes; a widening band indicates some issues for the process that may need intervention (e.g. root cause analysis, WIP limit, etc.)


This piece of PMI-ACP® Exam study notes describes the working of Agile projects, including the daily stand-ups, iteration, iteration review and iteration retrospectives, etc. Tools and techniques for working with Agile are also covered.

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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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