Use Agile Project Management with MS Project – Transcription

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Cindy M. Lewis’ and James Mills JR.’s webinar, Use Agile Project Management with MS Project, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Melanie: Hello. Melanie here with team MPUG. Welcome to Use Agile Project Management with MS Project. We invite you to join in today with questions. Comment, by using the chat feature in the GoToWebinar control panel. You can see that up on the slide. You can click on that in your control panel and expand it out for easier use.

We’ll also be launching polls today for fun and also so we can anonymously get to know each other and our comfort with the subject today. For those of you who are PMPs, your activity code today is on the screen. For those of you attending live today, we’ll add this session to your MPUG transcript automatically. I’ll also invite you to stay on after the event and the recording closes. We’ll open everyone’s mic for a discussion and Q&A with today’s experts. Thank you for graciously offering that.

Now, I will introduce one of our experts and the organizer for this event, Cindy M. Lewis. Cindy is a Microsoft Project trainer and consultant with her business, Four Pillars of Success and has over 25 years of project management experience.

She has published two editions of the Microsoft Project Step by Step published by Microsoft Press. Cindy is a nine time recipient of the most valuable professional award. She’s a Microsoft certified trainer and holds two PMI credentials, Project Management Professional and Scheduling Professional.

Cindy enjoys sharing her knowledge with the project management community. Thus, I’ll share her contact and the book we’ll be discussing today in our survey email, following the event. Cindy, a big MPUG welcome back. I’m going to hand the session over to you.

CIndy M. Lewis: Great. Thank you and welcome everyone. Actually, Jim Mills is going to be our first presenter. I’ll let him take over the screen, but while we’re getting that set up, I actually want to introduce Jim Mills. You’ll see his name is James. He also goes by Jim and he is super excited to be with him, our Agile expert for the session.

I have just a quick bio about him. He has 30 years as a new product development project management professional. He has lead projects that introduce durable goods, create hardware and software, integrate hardware and software and he’s brought up manufacturing facilities globally. His current specialty is creating and improving project management offices and developing project management talent by coaching, mentoring and training. He co-authored with me the Agile chapter of the Step by Step book.

He’s our Agile certified expert today. A little trivia about both of us. Jim does not like chocolate and I do like chocolate. So feel free to jump in the chat if you want to comment about your dessert favorites. But Jim, if you want to show our first slide, this is just a quick reminder of our session and a couple of takeaways you’ll hear about later. If you’re brand new to Agile, there is an updated article I did, Intro to Agile Project Management. You’ll get a link to later and you’ll get a link to all of our follow up resources.

That’s coming soon. Go ahead, Jim, click our next slide. So over to Melanie to start with our first poll question.

Melanie: Here we go. Are the majority of your projects Agile, Waterfall, Hybrid? And the votes are coming in. Okay. We’ll share those responses. So for our first poll, we have 3%, the majority of their projects being Agile, 37% waterfall and 60% hybrid.

And then for our second poll. Have you used Agile features in any version of Microsoft Project? We will share the results of that. 93% have said no. 7% of our audience has used the features. Fantastic. Thank you.

CIndy M. Lewis: Thank you. Jim is going to show our next slide. What I’m going to do is talk about how you’d get started with Agile in Microsoft Project. Let me just take over the screen just a moment.

You should be seeing Microsoft Projects. What I’m using is Project Online Desktop Client. This is the subscription product and you have really some new exciting features you’re going to see today. And we’re going to show you the boards and the sheet views and sprint management and so on. But how you get started is under file new and hopefully, you would see this friend’s project. Now, I have to be honest, some of you may not have this latest version.

Well, what do you have? I don’t want you to feel left out. You can still get to the older features just by typing in Agile Project Management, do a search on that and it will get you to the older features. So I just want to let you know that the only drawback, real life drawback, is that they really haven’t updated this since about 2012. So keep in mind, it might take you time to kind of clean that up.

But for today, we’re going to use the newer features in the sprints project template. Again, it’s just file new and here it is, one of the top things that come up. What this immediately does and something I love is it adds new ribbon tabs, sprints in task board format. We’ll be looking at these coming up. I should also let you know if you start one brand new in the dropdown, it automatically assigns you as the current sprint.

Well, Jim and I talked last night, there are ways to rig up the system. For situation one, the current sprint isn’t coming up right. In situation number two, my real life situation is I’m looking at a waterfall schedule, which it sounds like many of us have. And I say, “Hey, Cindy, I would like to incorporate the Agile features.” Well, I spent hours trying to figure out how to do that. The only solution I came up with is on a regular schedule, you have to customize the ribbon to put these features in and for your own trivia, I added that as a feedback item to Microsoft. But that’s how you get started to at least activate the features and back to Jim, if you want to show our next slide.

James Mills: Sure. Give me just a moment. Going back to this. Okay. What we’re going to do next with Microsoft Project, starting from where Cindy had you with this screen after you’ve created. One of the first things you’re probably going to want to do is create a product backlog, your product owner, working with a team, just create those user stories for your product backlog.

The no sprint column on the sprint planning board is a very good place to just keep your product backlog and then as you’re doing your sprint planning sessions at the very beginning of a sprint, you pull down what you need in that sprint. I’ve actually seen people in other packages where they’ll have a sequence of user stories that need to occur one after another and they’ll plan to make sure that user stories are assigned in future sprints just as a reminder.

Of course, if you get to it, you can pull it back and pull it in. There’s a lot of things you can do here. So let’s just create some future stories. And the perspective that we’re going to be presenting is a software package for a publishing company. We’re going to be looking at user stories. To create one manually from here, you just click on the plus button.

I’m going to copy paste from a user story here so you don’t have to suffer through my typing. This is reader’s accessibility to books. I do this. You can see, I have some custom fields set up on the card that are visible. We’re going to get into that in a moment and show you how to do that. But you go into the card, go into notes and the notes of where you’re going to put the details of what your user story is. The details of this user story are readers want a portal to be designed for accessibility.

The readers want to be able to access the content. Also, a custom field is set up where you can put in your user acceptance criteria. You can see here and in the custom field, the value and paste. This is an example, so I just put functional test XYZ01. All right. Whatever the functional test is, that’s what we can do.

Now, you can go through and create it this way. Also, you have the option of being able to go into… Go to Sprint’s planning, go to sprint planning sheet. You can see we have the information that we created there and you can create user stories from this view as well. So we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to use another user story to do that. Okay, let’s go with another one. This one is somebody wants authors as readers. Title of the user story and the details of that is authors want to use a login for purchasing content.

So authors wanted a special login for purchasing content. And then of course you would put your user acceptance criteria within that. Now later, we’re going to talk about assigning people to these cards and things like that. So there’s a lot of stuff that we can do. Now, what is going to be happening as you’re creating these, you may not be looking at the order that they’re being created in. This may not be a good format if you’re doing something like Microsoft Teams, where you have interactive… You’re trying to use one file. A lot of times it’s easier to use something like Excel, which we’ll go to our next point of how could I use Excel to create my product backlog? Great question, Jim. I think I’ll answer that.

If I have Excel spreadsheet and I’m wanting to create a backlog, if you start with a blank screen for your planning sheet, for your planning sheet, you just type in something and name, just put in three Xs and it’ll… That way you can copy a single line, go here to your blank sheet and just paste. Now, you have the headers in the correct order so you can create your user stories in Excel. And then I’m going to go to another sheet and then show you once you have created that sprint or those user stories and this is your full product backlog. Let me go to the bottom and copy up. A little tip if you don’t like Microsoft or Excel run out. This one. I’ll go here and just paste in and now I’ve pasted it in and I’ve created it.

I was able to perhaps use Excel when you are a lot of people. You can get on Excel with teams and some other collaboration package. And a lot of people can type in a lot of things. It’s not as ready to use in Microsoft Project. Microsoft Project doesn’t play nice in collaboration mode. So it’s sometimes better to go ahead and go to Excel and use it that way. Another thing that you may notice is that these are really scrambled. And a lot of times when you have a product backlog, you want to be able to sort by your highest priority.

We’re going to assume that higher the number, the higher the priority. Where you could go here and sort smallest to large or actually, largest to smallest and then you have it sorted. However, one little problem. If you go back to the board, let me go back to no sprint. Go back to the board. You can see that it didn’t change the order of anything.

So you have a little problem there. You can fix that, go back to the sprint planning sheet and copy this in this order. Now, I’m going to delete it. I lost everything. No I didn’t. And then I’m going to paste it back. Actually, I’m going to save first and then I’m going to paste it back. And the saving locks it in. So now it’s locked in as a clear sheet, without any user stories. And now I’m going to paste that in and now I have it in this order.

If you go back to the sprint planning board or the sprint planning board, not a sprint, you can see it’s now in the order you want it. That’s just a little tip on how to get it in order. However, sometimes you’re going to want to sort by more than one criteria.

That’s where Excel comes in again. This is another way that you can use Excel. I’ve got a product backlog here and you can see it’s really just a random sort. It’s not what I want. I want to sort by priority and I also want to sort by user stories. In the case of the examples that you’re seeing today, the story points, Cindy and I have chosen to use work as story points.

You can create a custom field for story points and you can use the criteria that you want, whether it be Fibonacci sequence or just a flat one, two, three, four, five. However you want to do your story points, it’s fine. In the case of these examples, we’ve chosen to use ours. A lot of people don’t like that, but whatever your scrum team decides to do is right for your team. Make sure the process works for your team and your team determines what your process is going to be.

Cindy and I chose to use artwork is our story point. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to sort by now two criteria. I’m going to sort by the priority and by work. Go in data sort, and then go to priority first. I want to go largest to smallest at a level priority. I want to go to work.

Now, I just made a mistake, because I just realized uh-oh, this is not going to sort as a number. What I’m going to do very quickly, work two. I’m going to select these. I don’t want to mess with this because I want to keep it in the right order because I know this is the right copy paste order. I’m going to type in or insert that in. Now, I’m going to remove the hours and the alpha component of the alphanumeric element of that space and hours and now replace all.

Now, it is a number. So it’s easier for you to work with with the sort. Again, and this is probably not necessary. I’m old. So I’m in the habit of selecting my whole table. I know Sword is much smarter than it used to be, but I’m old and I have certain habits. I’m going to look at priority largest to smallest and now I’m going to at a level and I’m going to say, okay, now I’m going to use work two, largest smallest.

Now, you can see what it’s done now. It’s now sorting the top priorities. So if I’m the product owner, I know that my team knows that what user stories I think based on customer input and then adjusting as you get customer input during your sprint reviews, when you’re getting customer input, if you have priority changes based on that input. Agile is all about learning. Agile is all about learning every sprint and adjusting as you learn.

But this is set up so that you know not only the top priority, the work or the user points that are charged for that particular story. And that’s kind of handy to have when you’re trying to determine what do I need to put in a sprint? I don’t need this column anymore. I’m just going to delete it. I can copy here.

I can also… And copy, return back to this. I’m going to delete. I’m going to delete. And then I’m going to save so that it locks in a project schedule without any user stories. And now I’m going to go in and I’m going to paste and now you can see that it’s in the order I want. And you can see that the… Oops! I went at the wrong place.

The planning board is also in the order that I want. As the team is talking and trying to plan sprints, trying to plan what to pull down, they can do that. Another way that you may want to use Excel with your work, the reports that Microsoft uses are not what scrum teams and Agile teams are used to seeing. You may want to create an Excel burn down chart. So you can see the kind of traditional bow shape of a burn down.

A lot of people use the, I don’t know if any of the practitioners here to use this. I’ve seen companies use left side, right side and the width, the bow during their sprint retrospective in order to determine how much risk they had had during the sprint, as well as if their user stories points need to be adjusted.

So they look at this, kind of look at how much area is above and below the curve. If it’s on this side, the team was ahead the whole time. If it’s on this side, they were kind of making it and so the closer it is to the line, the more the team is hitting right on as far as the user story assignment and things like that. It’s a measure. Some teams are used to seeing it this way. If you’re used to seeing it this way, Excel is a good way to be able to create that. That’s just another way that you can use Excel along with this in order to make it easier to use, better to use and more user-friendly for your teams. That’s all, I’ll turn it back over to the slide, to you in just a moment.

CIndy M. Lewis: While Jim is doing that, I kind of wanted to call out a few things that he mentioned. We decided and we really feel there’s a flaw with the ability to do multi-level sort and have it update board view. We kind of feel filtering, sorting is a weakness. We put that in the feedback forum.

Sometimes it’s better in Excel. And then there are valuable reports for Agile, but as Jim mentioned, what people are expecting with the burn down, especially in this version, it’s just not really what everybody needs. Some other things I want to call out that Jim said, which are excellent is we try to use built-in fields where possible like task name or the name field is the work item, user stories, we put in notes.

We did the work column is our story points. We’re using the built in priority field, define the way we want it. But a really key thing Jim mentioned was user acceptance criteria. We think that’s a huge weakness. Jim, did you want to add anything about that user acceptance criteria?

James Mills: Basically when you… Let me go back to project and I’ll pull that up. There I am. What you can do is you can go into the… Make this… Oh, I’m in Excel. I was like, “What’s going on? It’s broken!” Hold on just a second.

I’m having the same thing you did Cindy, where it was not wanting to be in front of… There we are so the first thing I’m going to want to do and… This is Excel. Sorry, I need to minimize my presentation mode because everything is behind it. There we are. What you want to do to customize your cards, you need to be as Cindy and I found out this morning or I found out I had forgotten and we had talked about it during plan.

I was in sheet view and I went to format and it’s like, that’s not the format I want. It’s broken. Well, it wasn’t. It was just a pilot error on my part. You want to be on the board view, go to format and you can customize your cards. Here, you can come in and you can add custom fields to your cards. This is the user acceptance criteria. I happen to have used text field two and I just renamed it.

To rename it, you can do that in your… To go back to your sprint planning board, no sprint planning sheet. I’m going to add it here. If you want to show here, you’ve got to tell it, “I do want to see this column.” But to do it, you go here, custom field and then you can see here that you can rename type in what you want and call it what you want.

I happen to have used text two, same thing if you want to do a custom story point and you don’t want to use work, you can go to a number here, right click, custom fields, rename and then you have story points as a traditional, as you would want to see it. We just happened to have used work because it was a field that was already there. It was easier to use that in some of the things that we were doing.

Some people don’t like to use work because it’s not ours. It is a point system in the process and I think that that’s okay. And if you want to do that, you can create that custom view and then, you’d go back to your board view with your planning, go back to [inaudible 00:26:25] planning board. Go to this, customize your card. And instead of work, you would use story points and then now it’s visible. That way your custom card and it’ll show up here how many story points that is. That’s a good question. Thank you for asking.

CIndy M. Lewis: Thanks Jim. Do you want to navigate our slides and figure out what poll question we’re up to?

James Mills: Sure. Poll question three.

Melanie: What is your favorite scoring method for users stories. Please select one. So we have T-shirt size 42% small, medium, large. Fibonacci scale, 21% even graduated scale 3% of the audience, historical user stories, 15% of our audience, other onshore, 18% of the audience. Thank you for that.

CIndy M. Lewis: Jim, if you could just advance the next slide and I believe we can kind of answer the question. All the files we are using today are actually bonus downloads with the book, including that burn down charts. If you happen to go to the book website or obtain the book, those are all available out there. I think Melanie’s going to send those out, send the details out to everyone.

Melanie: I will.

CIndy M. Lewis: But next, kind of what I’m going to talk about is the Agile team and planning sprints. Let me take over the screen just a moment. If all goes well here, we’re seeing Microsoft Project. Again, this is a staged file. So there’s good and bad. Everything you know about resource management really still works the same way, but when you’re doing an Agile project. I actually prefer sheet view and you’re going to see why. First thing that we’re familiar with probably is resource sheet. And you can add people in the resource sheet.

So we’ll just do what you’re familiar with. And then you want to assign them to what we typically call work items or user stories and we have all these wonderful new tabs so we can navigate over. You could do it in board view. That’s one option. We’re working with a product backlog. We haven’t built our sprints out yet. How do you do this? Well, old school tricks still work you can double click and add a resource.

Well, I want to give you a couple of warnings when I’ve done this in many instances, when I click okay, the card doesn’t update. So it could happen today. Let’s see. Here we go. Here’s an example of a technical issue. It didn’t update and then what I have to do is go back to sprint planning sheet, navigate back to the board and then it actually updates.

Well, you know what? That’s kind of annoying to go back here and then go back to the board and have it update. To me, that’s a waste of my time. What I think and what Jim and I chatted about is do all your work in sheet view. You have a lot of big benefits. You can multi-select if you’re familiar with that and assign resources. You can global assign. If you are familiar with the drag and drop or the fill handle tricks, those all work here.

It is just so much easier to work in sheet view. One of your personal choices is do you like this sheet view or a different sheet view? I’ll just point out the two options. There’s the sprint planning sheet and the task board sheet. I actually prefer this one because it has more columns that I might be interested in. Especially if I care about priorities and other things. You can do the same thing we’ve always done, but see how some of the columns are missing.

That’s really your personal choice, but this is kind of what I prefer. Something Jim already talked about is you can customize the cards. We’ll look at that again later on, but build your team, resource sheet, something you probably know about and assign, just like you normally do.

In fact, what I really like about the scheduling tools, we have the full power of project, even though we’re working in an Agile or a hybrid way. Now, before I get too far, I do want to talk about the sprints. Let me jump over here. No sprint is essentially the product backlog. Before you start putting items in sprints, you may have to align the sprints.

One big takeaway we found is the current sprint, it doesn’t always define what you want and I’ll show you how to fix that but before we get there, let’s manage our sprints. And you get a chance to vote on this later. Is your sprint period two weeks. In other words, how many story points or numbers are you burning down in a period? If it’s two weeks, great. Microsoft said, “Hey, that sounds like a good standard.”

You can default, add new sprints. It works really well. You can also adjust dates very easily and you’ll see how Microsoft helps you. Let’s click today. Now, they warn you things that I think should work don’t always work. Will it recalculate? Maybe not the way you expect. What I have found works better sometimes is to delete sprints and do a recalculation. If you delete though, it doesn’t necessarily move other sprints up.

My guess is the thinking is that Microsoft is saying maybe you had to cancel a sprint and you don’t want to lose that gap. When you delete it, it doesn’t recalculate. It’s trying to think for you. Sometimes it does a great job. Sometimes it doesn’t. But two things that I thought were not obvious is that it’s a right click to delete. Why isn’t there a button? I don’t know. And then to edit the sprint name, you have to click twice really slow or press the F2 key, which again, I thought was kind of not what I would expect.

So you certainly want to play around and get this aligned the way you want it. And again, it kind of says three sprints is the way to go. Whether or not you agree, that’s up to you. But if you also want to control what it says is the current sprint, here’s what you have to do. We thought it would’ve been logical that you go into project information and you say, “Okay, my project starts today. Well, my sprint should start today.”

That was not automated. We had to do that as a second step. Trigger the start date and then go back to your sprints and you actually have to make sure your first sprint starts on the current date. And then, it was lining up and actually giving you what the current sprint is. So see how now it’s flagged current. That’s another takeaway for you.

Get those sprints lined up before you start putting these cards into a sprint. And this is where maybe the board might come in handy. Whoop! Let me hit the right one. So now I can say what’s going to go into sprint one. Well, something you just heard from Jim is, “Well, how do I know what’s high priority?” If you didn’t customize the card, you don’t know what’s high priority, you don’t know what belongs in sprint one.

So you want to customize the cards before you do this. If you don’t like this format, you can always go into sheet view and assign the item in the backlog to the current sprint. Jim, did I miss anything there on that?

James Mills: Not that I can think of. Sometimes you can add sprints to this. Microsoft’s default is just three sprints, but you can add as many sprints as you want in the planning view that Cindy was in, in the manage view. As you’re adding those sprints, I guess you click add sprint button and as you add them, it automatically used the criteria that you set up for your sprint gap and the number and the duration.

And then if you use say a three or four week duration, whatever your duration is for your sprints, that your scrum team is using, you can change that duration and that duration. Then as you add new sprints, we’ll use that duration. If you do it at the beginning, it’ll reset everything with that, but once your past sprints, it looks like future-facing.

CIndy M. Lewis: Yeah. Thank you. Jim, do you want to tell us what poll we’re up to?

James Mills: Sure. Let me go back to the screen. There. Make sure I’m presenting the right screen. I don’t want anybody to see my Amazon order. Four and five.

Melanie: All right. Poll number four, what are the top two reasons companies adopt Agile? Please select all that apply. Okay. 77% felt that it was managing changing priorities. 90% thought it was accelerating delivery. 33% thought reduced cost and 7% felt it was to improve morale.

CIndy M. Lewis: Can I stop you just a minute there, Melanie. According to the 15th state of Agile report, which you’ll get information on how to get this later, manage changing priorities and accelerate delivery where the top two, many of us might be shocked that cost and morale were not the top two. Thank you and go ahead to the next one.

James Mills: There have been some live papers written where if you look at the full product backlog, it’s actually slightly more costly on your FTE, your full-time equivalent cost to deliver in Agile. The accelerate delivery is that you put value into the market sooner, not the full product backlog. That’s the big advantage for the accelerated delivery in that you’re able to get value into the market, get incremental benefit quicker and so that’s the huge advantage that I think that a lot of people are seeing. I think everybody here agrees.

Melanie: I’m going to launch poll five. What is your favorite ranking method for priorities? Please select one. We have a clear winner. High, medium, low is 83% of the audience. Required optional is 3%. Same as Microsoft Project, 7%. Alternate number scale, 3% and unsure other, 3%.

CIndy M. Lewis: All right. Thank you. Jim, what slide are we up to now?

James Mills: We’re going to configure the task board. This is something that’s important when you’re looking at… Give me just a moment. I had actually closed the wrong Microsoft Project file. If I have a set of user stories, I’ve got some criteria, now I’m wanting to look at.

I want my board set up, so it reflects what’s going on. So I go to my planning, go to actually a no sprint under the sprint icon, go to no sprint. Actually, it doesn’t matter which one you go to. I’m in the habit of going to no sprint. And what you’re going to do is when you move cards, the percent complete of these cards are determined by the headers of them.

Also, a lot of people, when they’re using a using Agile, they like to have a testing time. I’ve heard people call this done and done, done, done, done, done. But a lot of people say that I want to be able to try it when I’m in testing, cause a lot of their user stories and the story points because the software engineer and the test engineer are working together in developing the sprint and test the sprints. Approximately at the 50% mark, there’ll be 50% and you can change that to here.

Melanie: I’m not seeing your screen at this point.

James Mills: Okay. Thank you for putting that out. I want to make sure that we get everything here.

Melanie: There we go.

James Mills: Yeah.

Melanie: Thank you.

James Mills: Let me go through that again. I’ll delete that. You start out with the standard and this is pretty much the standard way that a lot of people do it. Some teams like to have testing and you can create it, but now it’s not in the right place because you want testing before done.

Some teams will call this done and this done-done. And I’ve seen that happen before too, but you can move it to the left. And then once it’s there, you can move it to the left or right. You can position it where you want it. You can change these percent complete. A lot of times, what’s going to be happening, these are the ones that you’ve planned for a sprint and not started and then in your daily scrum meeting, you’ll say, “Hey, this is what I’m going to do next. And this is what I’ve done between yesterday and today.”

So a lot of people will have, “This is what I’m thinking about doing next. This is…” Because what that does is it gives a communication if there’s some predecessor successor information that someone may not know of, if someone knows I’m planning on working this next, someone can say, “Hey, can you work on this one next instead?” And it’s already pulled down into your sprint and that discussion allows for a collaboration moment that you may be able to do things better and more efficiently for your team.

A lot of times, what’ll happen is you’ll say I’m halfway done when I’m starting the user acceptance testing or any of the parametric testing, I’m starting that. I know I’m about 50% done with a story at that point. Some people may want to go, “I want starting progress to be five. I want testing to be 75 and I want done to be a 100.”

It’s whatever you want. Sometimes, people are like, “It’s not done till it’s done.” And so it’s 0% complete until it’s done. Whatever your team wants is fine. It doesn’t matter what matters is what process your team needs to meet your team needs for your sprints. But the ones I’ve seen most common are probably this configuration where the team knows they’re about halfway done with a user story when they get to the testing point and then the…

Most of the time in scrum teams, your test engineer and your software engineer are working together to develop the code and also to test the code as well. That gives an idea of where you’re at as far as burning down stuff with your sprint. That’s a way you can configure your board so that it is ready to use. We’ve already talked about customizing cards.

I’ll touch on that a little bit again. If you go to… To do this, it’s really important, let me remind everyone again if you’re in a sprint sheet and you go to format, you’re going to get this. You won’t be able to customize your card, make sure that you go to a sprint board view. It doesn’t matter what board view you’re on. You go to format and you can customize your cards.

That’s where you can add different items. We’re using notes as our description for the… So this is the title of the user story. Notes, we’re using it for the details of the user story. You can select any of the normal fields that you had in any custom fields that you’ve created in order to manage your projects. Now, in this case, it’s work.

If we wanted to use a number instead of work to be our user story points so we could just convert to say number one and then I could go back to number one. I could go back to the sprint planning sheet. I could go to either one of these sheet views. I don’t go to the sprint planning sheet. I’m going to go here and then I’m going to insert the… Oh, I’ve already got users. No, they’re story points. So number one, right click, customize field, rename and I’m going to name this story points.

That’s another thing to remember. When you put a custom field in a card, it does not automatically show up in your sheet view. If you want it in the sheet view, you need to use the standard Microsoft Project thing and add that column.

In Microsoft Project, the columns are always there. They just have to be brought into view. Now the story points that now correspond to the card where we have story point are now visible. That’s how you can customize your card, customize your sprint for your percent complete with the columns and add new columns if that’s what you need for your sprint team. However, you need to communicate within the burn down of your sprint of what’s going on and what your team needs to… Make sure you collaborate, learn together and respond together.

CIndy M. Lewis: I think Jim is at poll question six? Can you check our slides? Is that where we’re at?

James Mills: Six and seven. Very good.

CIndy M. Lewis: Yes. Thank you.

James Mills: Most people have the daily stand-ups. It looked like it was in the 70% range. I thought it’d be slightly higher, but that’s still a lot for most people

CIndy M. Lewis: Melanie, when everyone answers this one, can you leave that answer up for a moment?

Melanie: Great. Sorry about that. We’re learning about the top three barriers to Agile implementations. And the top three barriers, the clear winner is culture 80%. Oh no, this doesn’t… Because we can pick multiple. Procedures, 77%; leadership, 73% and software, 27%. They’re all barriers.

CIndy M. Lewis: Yeah. Let me jump in. So according to the state of Agile report, the top three listed in the list are the top three barriers and software is usually not the issue. I mean we have powerful tools like Microsoft Project. It’s other organization things. Thank you.

James Mills: And also there’s nothing wrong with primitive Agile, where you’re using a wall and post-it notes with your user stories. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s the reason that software is really not a barrier, it’s a convenience.

CIndy M. Lewis: Yes. Thank you. I believe it’s back to me. Is that correct, Jim? All right. Let me take over the screen again. So I just kind of want to recap a few things. Something that you heard from Jim already is you take the product backlog, you plan what happens in the first sprint. I know you’ve seen me do this. You can drag.

Once you get the items in the sprint, then we’re ready to record progress from our daily scrum meetings. There’s multiple views you can do with that and one of them might be, “Hey, let’s focus right on sprint one.”

It will show up as the current sprint. If you’ve got everything configured, kind of like I talked about and something Jim just mentioned, you may not realize is Microsoft did not define the percent complete. You have to fill that in. I believe Jim, you did zero on this one. Next up, you did zero. In progress, you did 50 and 100 was done. And then you even suggested maybe there’s another one testing. Was that correct?

James Mills: Yeah. I think I had zeros for everything except for testing. It was 50 and then done was a 100%. But I’ve seen it used where everything’s… The mentality is, we’re not… It’s zero until we’re done and I’ve seen that way too. But however the team needs to communicate, you can do it.

CIndy M. Lewis: During those daily stand-ups or even beforehand you can say, “Hey, like I think you told me, Jim, okay, this is what Carol’s doing next. This is what John,” I’m not sure how to pronounce that, “is doing next.”

And then in progress, if you set up these percent completes, behind the scenes, Microsoft is actually marking that off percent complete. If all goes well, which it did in this case. Something we think is a good takeaway is you may want to add extra notes. I think Jim, did you have an example of an extra note idea?

James Mills: Sure, sure. Basically on your daily. So on your first standup on your first sprint, you’re not going to have anything up next. Basically in that first sprint, you’re going to say, “Well, these are things we’re going to work on.” Everybody says, “Great, God bless you having a nice day. Let’s work the next day.” And the next day, you move the things that have been worked on to in progress.

You add the notes here, the way I normally do it if I’m using something with notes or I have a software package, where I’m keeping notes. I keep the most current notes on top. I’ll put a date, type in the notes of what the status is for that person and then go on to the next and then try to go through really quick. You want these to be 15, 20 minutes tops when you’re going through it.

You want to go through it quick. If somebody’s stuck on something, don’t try to solve it there. Make note of who’s stuck, make note of who’s going to meet after the meeting to help get them unstuck and then make the notes and then at the up next talk about what you’re going to do next. And then what you’re working on, have it in progress. And then when you’re done, move it over to done, make that note, “I’m done. I’m on the next one.” And then you’re having that cadence that fast, but not frantic cadence of getting things done, communicating, continuing.

CIndy M. Lewis: Yes. Thank you. Before I forget, there are some filters you can do. I’ve got to move my screen around a little bit to get to it, but there are filters. We think these should be enhanced, but there are resource filters. We think you need priority and a bunch of other things that we thought would be here, but they’re just not.

So sorting and enhanced filtering is just not there. We put that in as a feedback item where hope that’s coming soon. I also want to try to answer, I believe a few questions. So under file account, I actually want to show you what I have as far as the subscription.

You do not have to be connected to a project online instance to get the sprint template. This desktop client, I think in the US, it’s around $30 a month gives you these features. I also want to mention I did a quick check while we were going through this session. It appears you can download those files that Jim and I are using without making a purchase.

We’ll make sure, Melanie and I share those details with you kind of offline. So I hope that answers some of those questions. Melanie, did we miss any active questions while we’re going through this?

Melanie: I think you are covered so far. Thank you.

CIndy M. Lewis: Okay. Jim, would I be able to let you go back to, I think we have a couple of more polls and some call to action slides.

James Mills: One thing I’d like cover before we do that, if you’d go back to the sprint planning board, I’d like to talk about my pet peeve.

CIndy M. Lewis: Oh yeah. Where am I? So are we still showing my screen?

James Mills: We are. If you go, just the planning board.

CIndy M. Lewis: Sprint planning board. Yep.

James Mills: If you’ll notice that as Cindy was moving cards over, there’s not a running total of the number of story points appearing anywhere. I don’t like that. That forces me to have to use something else to order or have somebody with a scratch pad and a pencil, adding them up as you’re adding your story points up for what you’re capable of running in a certain sprint.

We have climbed to Microsoft officially. It is something that we’ve asked as a feature to particularly this, the view where as you move something over where you have the option of picking what you’re using story points for and then a summation of those story points as you add them to the sprint. Because every team is going to know what their story point capacity is in a sprint view and you don’t get it naturally here. It forces you to use either an Excel spreadsheet where you’re summing things up that are assigned to a certain sprint or like I said, some with a scratch pad or some other method of being able to add up what you got.

It is a weakness. Microsoft is aware of it, but just be aware that using it this way, you’ve got to go through one step in order to make sure you’re matching up your stories with your capacity.

CIndy M. Lewis: Okay. Well, let’s do the last couple poll questions and our closing slide before we run out of time.

James Mills: There we go.

Melanie: I can launch the poll. We did have a couple of questions come in that you can think about as the poll is going. We had one person ask if we could possibly show how to create the burn down chart and then a question about the advantages of Project versus Azure as your development. So shall I’ll launch poll eight while you consider those two?

CIndy M. Lewis: Yeah, I believe Jim could stick around hopefully afterwards and actually show the burn down.

James Mills: I can.

Melanie: Do you feel Agile is being used across all industries. Please select one. Responses are in. 63% say no and 37%, yes.

CIndy M. Lewis: That’s interesting. The state of Agile report says it is becoming a mainstream that everybody’s using it, but that’s not what we heard. Go ahead, Melanie, with the next question.

Melanie: We have, what are the top two reasons companies adopt Agile? Select all that apply.

CIndy M. Lewis: We did this question actually. Maybe we hit them all.

Melanie: I think we’ve hit them all.

CIndy M. Lewis: Okay. That’s fine. Let me jump back in on that question about the Azure DevOps. Real life is there are other ways to do Agile and I don’t actually use that tool, but I know many clients that do and I think we might have to take that offline and have a discussion.

There are definitely advantages to other tools and we certainly support that. Hey Jim, do you want to show our call to action slide so we can wrap up for today?

Melanie: Let me put Jim back as presenter.

CIndy M. Lewis: Do you have the call to action slide?

James Mills: I do. Let me just make sure it’s presenting.

CIndy M. Lewis: So the one thing we really want to do to wrap up today, thank you Jim for your time as well, is there are benefits to using Project. It’s a powerful tool. There are some things that we need to grow the tool with and maybe Excel or another tool is helpful for you, but we have lots of ways you can learn more and I know you’re going to get all this afterwards.

But I want to turn it back to Melanie for closing thoughts. Jim and I will stay on. Is that correct? Can you stay on for a few minutes and answer other questions?

James Mills: Sure. I’d be happy to.

Melanie: Yes. Any audience members that need to go, thank you for attending with us. Thank you, Cindy and James for a very informative session. A big thank you all of you for choosing MPUG today. I’ll share a link later with this recording, contact information, book information and a quick survey. So please share your thoughts.

Again, anyone who would like to stay on and continue to speak with our wonderful presenters, please remain and I’ll end this session and I will open up everyone’s microphones. Thank you.

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Written by Cindy M. Lewis
Cindy Lewis is an awarded Microsoft Project MVP and an expert in scheduling with a long history in project management. She holds numerous credentials in the field including: PMP, PMI-SP, MS, MOS, and MCT. She serves on the board of the MPUG Detroit chapter and is a frequent speaker at conferences and events across the country . Cindy’s personal passion is sharing knowledge with others and helping them grow and achieve personal success. Her training philosophy is known as the 4 Pillars of Success® which is also the name of her company. Feel free to connect with Cindy on social media or contact her directly through her website
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