Maxwell Stephens

Agile working within FM

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Scrum, product backlog, sprint….. These are all terms from Agile Project Methodology. If you are hearing them for the first time they are undoubtedly slightly alien. However many organisations are embracing Agile, and for many Facilities Managers who are involved in both tech and non tech projects, they will need to get up to speed quickly. Within this article we will look at the origins of Agile, what it is all about at a high level (values), and then a run-down of the key things you need to know to get started.


The Origins and Values


In 2001, seventeen independent software practitioners came together to discuss better ways to develop software. They found consensus around 4 main values and wrote the famous Agile Manifesto. The items of highest value were agreed to be:


Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan


The concept of agile software development made waves within the industry and in many organisations pushed the sequential ‘waterfall’ methodology to one side. It made sense to many people to focus on collaboration rather than process, and increments as opposed to sequence. This approach has been so successful that it is now used by many in a wide range of projects even where software development is not on the agenda.


What You Need to Know


There is a lot of jargon that you will need to know. Before we get to those, this is a high level view of how an agile project works.


Stage 1

The product owner identifies the product vision

Stage 2

The product owner creates a product roadmap

Stage 3

The product owner creates a release plan

Stage 4                              

The product owner, scrum master, and the development team plan the sprints

Stage 5

Sprints commence, and the development team have daily scrums

Stage 6

The team holds a sprint review at the end of each sprint and demonstrate the working product created during the sprint to the stakeholders

Stage 7

The team conducts a sprint retrospective


Now that you have the methodology, let’s fill in the gaps by providing the definitions.


  • Team Roles

Product Owner                The product expert who understands the customer needs, priorities, and                                             vision for the product


Development Team        They are the hands on people who are coding, testing, and so on


Scrum Master                   They are there to support the team, remove roadblocks, and facilitate


  • Artefacts

Product Vision


A statement at a high level of how the product will support the organisational strategies and the goals for the product


Product Roadmap


High level set of product requirements aligned to achieving the product vision. This allows a high level delivery plan to be produced.


Release Plan


High level working software release plan


  • Activities/Meetings



A short development cycle in which the team aims to create a working piece of functionality that can be demonstrated to stakeholders


Daily Scrum  


A 15 minute meeting held with the whole team at the beginning of the day to discuss what was completed the day before, what they will complete that day, and any roadblocks they foresee


Sprint Review            


At the end of each sprint the product owner facilitates a meeting where the development team showcase the new product functionality to the stakeholders.


Sprint Retrospective     


A meeting held at the end of each sprint where the team discusses what went well, what went not so well, and changes that can be implemented for the next sprint.


In Summary


The purpose of this article has been to give you a whistle stop tour of the Agile Project Methodology and provide you with all of the basics as a basis to go and do further reading and research. Agile methodologies are not only becoming increasingly popular within organisations, but furthermore, more and more Facilities Managers are actually undertaking certified Agile PM courses.

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