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Is it ok to start following an Agile PM style before we get formal training in it? The other way this question was phrased was is it ok to use tools like Pivotal that is geared for Agile before we even train on Agile formally?

I have heard/seen numerous teams who attempt "Agile" but end up falling back to waterfall and that was because the team never strictly followed Agile in the first place.

As a background, we (the senior developers) had decided to take over the PM tasks primarily because the company had decided to do away with the PM/AM role in a project (much controvesy, we aren't happy with it but its something we have to live with). It was usually left on to the client to manage the project their style but we developers found it was disastrous. So we felt we needed to bring back a PM process to keep some standard and sanity.

We have been in Agile-like projects before but never been the "scrum master" or the person to manages the whole process. And we have never been formally trained in it - we had normally left the PM to handle the resourcing and feature prioritization while we just handled the actual dev work.

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As far as I know there's no official "agile" training.

Agile is a set of 4 values and 12 principles set out int the Agile manifesto. If you agree with them, and practice them in your job, you are "agile".

The training I've seen is in specific methodologies (scrum, lean...). I do suggest you get some training or coaching before attempting them because implementation is quite hard. This applies if you are in a non-agile environment. If the company already practices them, just follow along, it's not that hard -- the hard parts are the transformation from one working style to the other.

In my experience, they tricky bit is not "following closely" a methodology, but understanding deeply what is the meaning or reason behind each part of it. A team does not need to be perfect to be successful, but typically scrum is a set of very important and useful practices which are directly related to the agile principles.

Modifying them might be required by the situation but in most cases it will make your team less agile.

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I would say yes it is. In fact lots of companies try agile without specific training.

What I would say is most important is a shared vision within the project team. If you are going to work in an agile manner, get the customers on board. Every time I've seen an agile project fail it's because the Developers or IT think they're working one way and the customer (internal or external) believes they are working another or just doesn't understand what Agile is.

Treat the learning agile as part of the project itself. Let them know it's a learning experience for everyone.

Get a book such as the Agile Samurai, which is clear and concise. have an internal workshop to discuss how you as a project team are going to work and then try it!

At the end of an iteration have an honest review of how the "project" has been working. Whats gone well, what could improve.

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