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Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (2nd Edition)
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2011
This book provides a reasonable overview of employing agile project management. Hwever, I found it difficult to read because of the sheer volume of space it dedicated to discussing how superior agile project management is to traditional project management. And what the author thinks of as traditional project management is actually dysfunctional project management. He's clearly been involved in a number of traditional PM projects run in highly mismanaged organizations where bad process prevails and people spend a lot of time subverting useful best practices. OK, sure, this can happen. It can happen with Agile as well. But it's distracting when every page or two I'm thinking to myself, "that's not necessarily true, I've run traditional PM projects without that happening." I may well use agile in the future, but please, focus on the subject and not the endless preaching.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Jim Highsmith is one of those few people that have really been-there-done-that and continue to be a pleasure to meet, accessible and down-to-earth. But anyway, this review is about his new book and not about him so I'll get to it. From my perspective Agile Project Management has two accomplishments: It fills in the gaps left by other books on the same subject and brings us one step further on different ways to see and approach the way we manage agile projects, within and outside software development.

Chapter 1 contains one of the best introductory chapters I've seen in any book on management. It is both a great motivation to read the rest of the book with interesting real cases. This chapter also refreshes the audience on the basics of agile, including the declaration of interdependence, which is explained in detail throughout the book, and provides some lesser known and relatively recent basis such as the Agile Triangle (not the Agile Iron Triangle).

Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are a detailed study of leadership values: Value over Constraints, Teams over Tasks, and Adapting over conforming. Similar to the agile values in the manifesto, these invite a cultural change in the way we measure project performance, lead teams, and focus on customer needs. Highsmith explains how the quality of the product and the work environment is improved through these. He also emphasizes on the fact that fail-often-fail-early is of very hight value in building a successful agile organization.

Chapter 5 has two objectives, to introduce an agile enterprise framework consisting of four layers that is arguably more appealing to large organizations, and to introduce an agile delivery framework consisting of five phases. That Agile Delivery Framework is explained in higher detail within the following 5 chapters, one per phase: envision, speculate, explore, adapt, and close. The last part of this chapter provides important practical information on the delivery framework. Chapter 6 has one of the best prep work descriptions you might be able to find and includes a project data sheet and the Tradeoff Matrix, which you might find useful. Chapter 7 digs into the speculate phase. Its contents are useful for those new to agile but not necessarily for those familiar with its basics since it explains fundamentals such as the backlog and story cards. Chapter 8 is about release planning. It introduces some planning strategies and a product planning structure that goes from the roadmap to the iteration. I recommend everybody to read this chapter since it has a bundle of snippets of useful information. Chapter 9 explains the explore phase and includes iteration planning, estimating, management and monitoring. It also talks briefly about technical debt, continuous integration and refactoring at a level good for managers but too light for for technical people. A good portion of the chapter is dedicated to coaching, one of the best parts of the book. Chapter 10 deals with the last two phases: adapt and close. It discusses how diverse activities usually considered secondary are of great importance to successfully fulfill customer needs and rapidly adapt to add value, increase quality, improve performance, and have a realistic view of the project status.

Chapter 11 is about scaling agile projects. Scaling has been a hot topic within the agile community during the last couple of years and Highsmith takes the opportunity to introduce an agile scaling model within the software development organization (other areas of an organization are beyond the scope of the book). scaling is treated at both size and distance levels, which increase the level of uncertainty and complexity. The model has five components: business goals, agile values, the organization, the product backlog and processes. The last three of these are treated differently at product, project, and feature level. I recommend you to read this chapter even if you work with a small team because there is value in understanding what works in the small and what works in the large. It may help you improve what you do in the small.

Highsmith does a great job discussing on chapter 12 how to do governance within agile projects, an aspect most small companies might not have to worry about but most mid to large organizations have to. Chapter 13 is an overview of metrics at a high level. If you want to learn about this topic in technical detail you are better off reading other books such as the David J Anderson's book on agile management and conference proceedings. Chapter 14 is a rather motivational reading on the value of agile

In conclusion, this is a book of high value to get up to speed on agile project management and learn more, recent advances in agile that are useful beyond software development and both in the small and in the large. Although the book doesn't advocate a particular agile development framework it leans mostly towards scrum.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2013
I like this book since it goes beyond basics on agile and touches points on things to consider for project manager. It helped me in my process of transitioning from waterfall to agile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2009
Jim Highsmith's 2nd edition of AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT: CREATING INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS is a powerful set of software development best practices for managing projects in agile environments - and has been updated with new techniques for larger projects. From understanding when and how agile methods work in project management to setting realistic business goals and optimizing all stages of an agile project, AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT is a recommended pick for business and computer libraries alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2012
Jim has written a comprehensive 100 level text for anyone considering Agile. I will be looking for a book that discusses the transformation of business leadership to support agile. Without a solid business user who can, and is will to, drive "sprints" and product valuation you will have a challenging experience with agile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2013
This is a great book and brilliant concept for those merging creative projects and commerce. Really help outline how to get products to market faster and ties together the creative process to the end user. Great for anyone interested in product life-cycles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2015
Good book for people that read a bit about agile and have some experience with it. First part is about agile on project level and second is about agility in enterprise. If you think about how to push agile beyond project level than you should read it.
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on March 1, 2013
Excellent book by a renowned expert in the industry. At some point in our careers most of us have managed a multi-year, multi-million dollar project that used a strict waterfall methodology. Mine occurred about 15 years ago. We spent 1 year writing the specification (in collaboration with the customer I might add). We spent 2 years building the system and created a rigorous Acceptance Plan that demonstrated every single requirement. The customer's reaction was "You built exactly what I asked for; I hate it". Of course we got our money by clicking through the Acceptance Plan. The customer was unhappy; the users wouldn't use it. Never again!

So, now there is a name and guidance on how to do iterative (Agile) SW development.

Maybe this book will help others learn a better method before the pain of going over a waterfall in a barrel.
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on May 13, 2014
For those interested in reading both the theory and practice regarding managing a project with an Agile approach then this is the book for you. Jim has been around ling enough to have know the origins of many of the agile approaches as well as their practical application. This latest revision respectfully includes many alterations and improvements to his first release.
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on November 27, 2013
This book is a good introduction into agile projects. It compares agile to the traditional project management processes. The book shows where agile is superior to traditional project management and area where the traditional process is superior. Overall a good intro to APM
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