Agile Portfolio Management Review

Agile Portfolio Management
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I was looking forward to this book! An important hole in the current agile literature and a book only on this subject. Finally... but ... I'm extremely disappointed.

Jochen Krebs' Agile Portfolio Management consists of 3 parts. Part one is called "Agile for Managers", part two is the things about portfolio management and part three is *other* called organization and environment.

The first part consists of three chapters. The first chapter consists a general motivation for agile development and responding to change. The second chapter is a short introduction to Agile development and the last chapter an introduction to project management. This takes up 1/4th of the book. The explanations are poorly written and full with misunderstandings. To give a concrete example, on page 27 Jochen is suggesting that in Scrum you can not have any other meetings except for the daily Scrum. A recommendation which I've never heard before and I'm pretty sure he didn't actually mean that!

Part two consists of about 125 pages and is the main subject of the book, though it starts with three somewhat introduction chapters called Foundation, Metrics and Return of Investment. These chapters don't show too much experience from the author. The suggestion that TDD and Continuous Integration finds defects early so that one of the main quality metrics is open defect count is absurd and goes directly against advise of great agile literature like "Art of Agile development" or "Sustainable Software Development". It gives the feeling the author simply forgot to learn about agile development before he wrote the book. The explanation of story points was vague, the explanation of Use Case points unnecessary. The talk about return of investment forgot to give actual tools for doing so.

After the first 100 pages, I almost threw away the book and was pretty sure I would rate it 1 start. Though, luckily it started to improve. If you buy this book, I recommend to skip the first 100 pages :)

Chapter 7, 8, and 9 cover three portfolios: Project, resource and asset. The project portfolio covered some good ideas like increasing the portfolio decision frequency, using agile metrics and making other decisions than go/kill. The resource portfolio chapter was poor and doesn't talk much about resource management. The asset portfolio chapter is short but covers some important topics not covered frequently in other places.

Part three just consists of two chapters. The first one uses Scrum to become a portfolio management process. I found the idea interest and absurd. Especially the daily portfolio meeting and the portfolio master seen a sure sign of misapplication. The chapter is speculative, the real story about the real situation is missing. It made me doubt the author has actually done this. The second chapter of part three is a chapter about the PMO. I very strongly disagree with the suggestions from the author, especially making the PMO larger for Agile organizations.

In other words, I only thought that part two was worth my time (and only half of that) thats about 50 pages... Next to this, the writing and editing of the book was poor. Some constructions seem very German and sentences are constructed poorly making me sleepy while reading. I wonder if Microsoft Press did any editing at all or supported the author at all. Quite disappointing.

I would not recommend this book to anyone. It's probably better to read some traditional portfolio management book (e.g. Coopers Portfolio Management for New Products) together with some basic Agile books and especially Mike Cohn Agile Estimating and Planning (which covers much of the ROI and value calculation, but explained better). If you read all of these and want some insights and ideas from this book, just read chapter 7, 8 and 9 and skip the rest.

I still rated this book three stars, which is probably too high. After the first 100 pages, I was sure it would not be higher than 1 star. But some chapters contained some insights and that made me decide to give it 2 stars. I switched to three stars simply because I applaud the attempt. This is a new area, there is no existing material and it is great Jochen took this opportunity and tried to fill a gap. Though, a different book is probably needed.

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Product Description:
Find out how your company s full project portfolio can benefit from the principles of agility from an expert on agile processes. Agile software development is now more popular than ever, but agility doesn t need to stop there. This guide takes a big-picture look at how portfolio managers and project managers can make use of proven agile development methods to increase organizational efficiency.

It can be difficult for companies to manage multiple development teams and to ensure that they are in line with evolving corporate strategies. Agile project-management methods help you build more flexible processes that invite feedback and collaboration, adapt to change, and gain better project insights. They enable project teams to execute corporate strategy and top-level managers to make sound decisions. This guide delivers practical, real-world strategies for implementing agile methods across your organization. Learn best practices for reassessing your company-wide processes; successfully coordinating multiple software teams without imposing a rigid, top-down structure; developing clear roles and responsibilities; and transitioning to an agile enterprise.

Key Book Benefits:

Delivers practical, real-world guidance on bringing agile software development methods to your entire enterprise Provides specific suggestions for improving processes, developing clear roles, and making decisions Features a survey of popular agile project management methods

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