Audit Folders

Agile Project Audits are highly beneficial and worth the investment.  They not only uncover problems, issues and challenges but also lessons to help improve the outcome of the current project as well as future projects.  This three-phase Agile Audit Process is straightforward, effective and proven.

Traditional project audits follow a prescribed set of activities to be performed during the project’s execution or at its conclusion.  Agile projects consist of a series of Sprints (3-week work iterations).  An Agile Project Auditor must be more flexible in how to use their time as well as when and how best to engage in a rapidly changing environment.

One would carry out an Agile project audit for a variety of reasons to:

  • Ensure the project is being delivered using an agreed Agile approach.
  • Validate that the Product Owner and Scrum Master are competent.
  • Assess the Backlogs of work to be completed.
  • Ensure engagement for the Sprint Teams.
  • Ensure that the customer’s requirements are being managed.

Agile Project Auditor Knowledge

Project Auditors can be internal and/or external.  To audit a project, auditors must have some knowledge of how projects are managed.  In our article: “Use your Internal Auditor to Audit Projects” we discussed the challenge project auditors face and how to manage these.

In another one of our articles, “How to Immediately Improve Your Bottom-Line by Undertaking a Project Audit or Project Health Check,” we reviewed the entire process of auditing a traditional type of project.  Generally, these projects use a Waterfall method of project planning.

To be successful auditing Agile projects, the auditor must have knowledge of the entire Agile Framework as well as knowledge of project management methodologies.  Many projects are managed using a Hybrid approach so a combined knowledge of Waterfall and Agile will help the auditor understand the jargon, processes and so on. For more information about hybrid approaches to project management, read our article, “Rapid Product Development Projects Using Hybrid Waterfall/Agile.”

Agile Project Audit Process

The approach that we undertake is broken down into three phases:

Phase 1:  Research and Planning the Agile Project Audit

Phase 2:  Agile Project Analysis

Phase 3:  Report and Recommendations

Phase 1:  Research and Planning the Agile Project Audit

During this phase the project auditor spends a short time understanding the Agile project process and planning for the analysis phase.   Key elements include:

  • Interview the Product Owner and Scrum Master to determine their “success criteria” for this agile project audit. This will ensure that their individual and collective needs are met.
  • Identify the competencies of the Scrum Master and Sprint Team members.
  • Review how the Sprint Team members were selected.
  • Confirm how project success is measured.
  • Identify if Agile project management tools and templates exist to ensure a consistent application of agile quality processes.
  • Validate that the project is strategically aligned with business goals.
  • Arrange in-depth interviews including the Sponsor, Scrum Master, Product Owner and Sprint team members.
  • Arrange interviews with vendors, suppliers, consultants and other external resources, if they are included in the management of this project.
  • Arrange interviews with any key stakeholders who will be impacted by the project.
  • Arrange to attend some of the Sprints, Demos and Retrospective meetings.

Phase 2:  Agile Project Analysis

During this phase the project auditor dives deep into the Agile project.  Key elements include:

  • Interview the Sponsor, Product Owner and Scrum Master.
  • Review the competencies of the Scrum Master and Sprint Team members.
  • Assess the issues, challenges and concerns in more depth to get to the root causes of any possible problems.
  • Confirm the level of engagement and understand of the project’s customers.
  • Auditor is a silent observer of the Sprint.
  • Observe the daily Scrum stand-up meetings.
  • Observe the Sprint Demos.
  • Observe the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective Meeting.
  • Review the Product Backlog and Sprint Backlogs and how stories were broken down into these backlogs.
  • Determine how change and risk have been managed.
  • Review the Sprint Burndown chart and other artifacts.

Phase 3:  Report and Recommendations

During this phase the project auditor reviews all of the data they’ve collected and creates the final report and recommendations.  Key elements include:

  • Compile the information collected from the interviews.
  • Consolidate the findings from the review of project artifacts.
  • Review the observations from the meetings.
  • Validate that the customer requirements are understood and being met.
  • Validate that the Sprint team members are being effectively and efficiently utilized.
  • Review the observed issues, concerns and challenges.
  • Identify any competency and leadership gaps of the Sponsor, Product Owner and Scrum Master.
  • Identify all of the project opportunities that can be realized through this report’s recommendations.
  • Identify the actions required that will ensure the overall performance of this project is immediately improved.
  • Finalize the development of the report with recommendations based on the findings and present this detailed Agile Project Audit Report with recommendations including the steps required to keep this project on-track.

Conclusion

Our 3-phase Agile Project Audit will uncover the root causes of problems, issues and challenges that may be preventing an Agile project from succeeding.  It will also provide “Lessons Learned” that can help improve the performance of current and future Agile projects. Agile Project Audits are always highly beneficial to an organization and pay back the investment many times over.

 


 

Michael Stanleigh

Michael Stanleigh, CMC, CSP, CSM is the CEO of Business Improvement Architects. He works with leaders and their teams around the world to improve organizational performance by helping them to define their strategic direction, increase leadership performance, create cultures that drive innovation and improve project and quality management. Michael’s experience spans public and private sector organizations in over 20 different countries. He also delivers presentations to businesses and conferences throughout the world. In addition to his consulting practice and global speaking he has been featured and published in over 500 different magazines and industry publications.

For more information about this article you may contact Michael Stanleigh at mstanleigh@bia.ca