Monday, July 16, 2018

Agile Approach and PMI PMBOK

Decision Requirement:

  • Projects with heavy constraints, inexperienced and dispersed teams, large risks, generally clear up-front requirements, and a fairly rigid completion date are best done using a predictive approach. 
  • In contrast, projects with less rigid constraints, experienced and preferably co-located teams, smaller risks, unclear requirements, and more flexible scheduling would be more compatible with an agile approach.
Scrum includes three main roles for project participants:
  • Product owner: The person responsible for the business value of the project and for deciding what work to do and in what order, as documented in the product backlog.
  • ScrumMaster: The person who ensures that the team is productive, facilitates the daily Scrum, enables close cooperation across all roles and functions, and removes barriers that prevent the team from being effective. ScrumMasters have authority over the process but not the people on the team. They must be comfortable surrendering control to the product owner and team. Some experts suggest that traditional project managers do not make great ScrumMasters. 
  • Scrum team or development team: A cross-functional team of five to nine people who organize themselves and the work to produce the desired results for each sprint. A sprint normally lasts two to four weeks, during which specific work must be completed and made ready for review.
In Scrum, an artifact is a useful object created by people. An artifact can be called a deliverable in other project management approaches. The following three artifacts are created with Scrum:
  • Product backlog: A single list of features prioritized by business value. The highest priority items should be broken down in enough detail for the team to estimate the effort involved in developing them. Some experts suggest scheduling about ten workdays for each item.
  • Sprint backlog: The highest-priority items from the product backlog to be completed within a sprint. The Scrum team breaks down the highest-priority items into smaller tasks that take about 16 hours to complete.
  • Burndown chart: Shows the cumulative work remaining in a sprint on a day-by-day basis.
The ScrumMaster facilitates four ceremonies or meetings when using the Scrum methodology: 
  • Sprint planning session: A meeting with the team to select a set of work from the product backlog to deliver during a sprint. This meeting normally takes four hours to a full day.
  • Daily Scrum: A short meeting for the development team to share progress and challenges and plan work for the day. Ideally the team members are in the same place, the meeting usually lasts no more than 15  minutes, and it is held at the same time and place each day. If that is not possible, teams can use videoconferencing to have short virtual meetings. The ScrumMaster asks what work has been done since yesterday, what work is planned for today, and what impediments or stumbling blocks might hamper the team’s efforts. The ScrumMaster documents these stumbling blocks and works with key stakeholders to resolve them after the daily Scrum. Many teams use the term “issues” for items that do not have to be solved in the next 24 hours and “blockers” for items that need to be immediately addressed. This allows a SrumMaster to maintain focus on highest priority items (blockers) first and then manage the resolution of other issues over the next day or so.
  • Sprint reviews: A meeting in which the team demonstrates to the product owner what it has completed during the sprint.
  • Sprint retrospectives: A meeting in which the team looks for ways to improve the product and the process based on a review of the actual performance of the development team.
Scrum framework in terms of the project management process groups:
  • Initiating:
    • Determine roles
    • Decide how many sprints will compose each release and the scope of software to deliver
  • Planning:
    • Create product backlog
    • Create sprint backlog
    • Create release backlog
    • Plan work each day in the daily Scrum
    • Document stumbling blocks in a list
  • Executing:
    • Complete tasks each day during sprints
    • Produce a shippable product at the end of each sprin
  • Monitoring and Controlling: 
    • Resolve issues and blockers
    • Create and update burndown chart
    • Demonstrate the completed product during the sprint review meeting 
  • Closing:
    • Reflect on how to improve the product and process during the sprint reflection meeting 



Friday, July 13, 2018

Secret Most Successful Project Managers Know

1. Squishing a square into a circle never works

Gantt charts are great for defining a project's scope, budget, and resources, but they aren’t great at adjusting once your project has contact with the real world. This study found that client-based change requests were the primary reason for projects going over time and budget—and traditional Gantt charts don't adjust well for those.
Successful project managers know they need a project tracking platform to help them identify risks as the project progresses—one that gives them real-time feedback with the flexibility to adjust as things come up. With over a third of projects running between one to three months exceeding their scope due to underestimated time frames, you need a dynamic tool that can tell you when something isn't feasiblein time to do something about it
2. Take trends with a grain of salt
Great project managers don’t “copy and paste” ideas from thought leaders and insert them into their own strategy blindly. For instance, while the agile approach works for some, you might realize that on its own it doesn’t bode well for you (i.e. it’s hard to set real deadlines since you’re always trying to figure out how you’d like to accomplish tasks each week). It's important to figure out what parts of a trend or strategy work for you and then, make sure you have a project management platform in place that can adjust on a whim (like you) to get the job done efficiently.

3. Tweak the recipe

What works for some might not work for others—so successful project managers combine methods and create their own unique approach. Then, they build out those strategies on a project management platform that can work exactly the way they want to work(because there’s no one size fits all). Still, many project management solutions force you to run your project within their preset parameters (when it should be the other way around)—so it can be hard to make the tweaks you need to be successful.
Trying to manage and dynamically adjust to the realities of managing a project when the platform you’re using isn't flexible can be frustrating. If this is a pain you’re struggling with right now, then you’ll want to have a look at a platform that’s smart and flexible the way you are.

Other tips:

Tips & tricks for effective project management

1. Write down everything

Project managers are responsible for juggling all of the small details of a project. “It’s easier to sift through notes than to completely forget something".
Makes use of old and new technology by using customized Excel spreadsheets and programs like Asana and 10,000ft. These tools track everything from notes and task management to time and resource planning.

2. Gain your team’s support

All of the technology in the world won’t make you an effective project manager if you don’t have your team behind you. Earn your team’s trust by listening to them, especially about risks and obstacles, recommends Marie Phillips, retired Project Management Institute project management professional. You’ll make more informed decisions if you’ve got a firm handle on your team’s abilities.

3. Communicate well

Communication among your team is essential to success. Tools like Skype and other chat software make it easy to stay in touch with your team at all times. Even with these slick tools, some people may still prefer phone calls or face-to-face interaction.
It is important to understand how each member of your team prefers to communicate. This will help prevent misunderstandings and will allow you to strategize the best way to introduce your team to new technology.

4. Stay enthusiastic with the right tools

The best way to get your team excited about a project is to show that you’re passionate about it yourself. Don’t let your enthusiasm get bogged down by a mess of details. Turn to programs like Harvest to track time and expenses so you can focus on the heart of the project.

5. Get to know keyboard shortcuts

Project managers have a lot on their plates. Cut down on wasted time by learning keyboard shortcuts for your web browser, email and other commonly used programs. This trick will gain you hours of saved time in the long run!

6. Choose the right person for the job

“If you assign the wrong person to a task, you’re reducing your chances of success before the project even begins,” warns Juan Velasquez, marketing and project specialist at DoItWiser.com. Use a site like Trello to track, evaluate and delegate tasks to your team. The simple layout and clear-cut visuals make it the perfect tool for effective task management.

7. Create a readable timeline

The right visuals give you an at-a-glance view of your project’s timeline without requiring you to flip through a calendar. Use Gantt charts to quickly check the progress of a project. Programs likeSmartsheet have Gantt charts already built in, saving you the time and hassle of creating your own.

8. Prepare for tech failure

You need to stay in touch with all of the decision makers on your project, even if your email is down or you spill coffee on your laptop. Be prepared for tech mishaps with a system that keeps your info backed up across multiple devices.
9. Write a postmortem report
Effective project managers are constantly looking for ways to improve. Evaluating each project after the fact will help you recognize what went well and what could have been done differently.
This is the perfect time to evaluate the success levels of the technology and communication tools you used during the project. You can move forward with successful tools as a best practice for future projects.

7 Habits of Highly Successful Mentors & Mentorees

Use these 7 Habits of Highly Successful Mentors and Mentorees to identify the perfect candidates in your organization for your existing mentoring program or to show upper management that you have the right mix of people to launch a program.

1. Active Listeners. Active listening takes energy. People who listen actively don't simply sit back and allow words to hit their eardrums. They sit up straight. They take notes. They ask questions. They repeat or "mirror back" what they've heard to ensure they've understood it properly. Active listeners are the ones who provide non-verbal gestures (e.g. eye contact, nodding, etc.) that indicate they're following (or not following) what you're saying. 

Why is this habit important? Mentors and mentorees spend much of their relationship talking and listening to one another. Active listening is critical for both parties.

2. Dedicated to Their Success. I'm not suggesting that people should have a myopic view and are dedicated to only their own success. What I'm saying is that people who take pride in their work, who want to grow, and who truly care about their career trajectory are assets because of their high expectations. 

3. Dedicated to Others' Success. I put the "success" habits back to back so that it's clear they work in tandem. The most successful (and happiest) people in life are not in it just for themselves. They care about the organization and the people within that organization and have a genuine desire to see everyone and everything succeed: the company, the employees, and the mentoring program as a whole.

Why is this habit important? People who realize that "it's not all about me" are much more willing to make a genuine investment in the mentoring relationship.

4. Curious. People who are naturally curious tend to follow the "if there's a will, there's a way" philosophy. If they don't know the answer or if they need help with something, they won't sit back and wait; they'll go looking for the answers.

5. Engaged with their surroundings. These people view their work as more than just a job. They show interest in the industry, in the world around them, in the work that other departments are doing, and in the charitable events associated with their company. 

Why is this habit important? Having a "big picture" view of the world allows people to see how the success of their mentoring relationship affects more than just the two people in the relationship.

6. Willing to step out of their comfort zones. These people are willing to try new things, consider new thoughts, and think outside of the proverbial box for the sake of personal and professional growth.

Why is this habit important? Prospective mentors and mentorees who are willing to try something new and give it a "go" will have the best chance at reaping the most benefits from the mentoring relationship.

7. The 3 R's: Responsible, Respectful, & Ready. People who are responsible, respectful, and ready to get started with new projects help make the day-to-day work experience a better one not only for themselves, but also for everyone around them. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Project Planning - 5 W Questions

With all of the tools, techniques and processes within our profession, we sometimes lose sight of the basic principles of project management.  One way to ensure that you are not over-complicating things is to assess your approach from the perspective of a small child.
On project planning, understanding & communicating the five W’s can provide context and perspective for the low-level details found within the individual project plans.
  1. What – at its very essence, scope definition is about answering the “What do we want to do?” question.  It’s amazing how many projects will consume significant resources (and churn as a result) without having a simple answer.
  2. Why (and Why, Why, Why, and Why?) – if there’s one thing we lose as we grow up, it’s the admirable (?!?) persistence that a small child demonstrates when trying to learn about something new.  We might ask the “Why are we doing this project?” question once or twice, but how often do we probe really deep to understand the fundamental root benefits & motivations that are driving its existence?  We should adopt the traditional performance improvement technique which recommends asking “Why?” five times to ensure that we are not presenting a surface-level driver as the main reason for investing in a project.
  3. Who – Although the What might not have been sufficiently decomposed to identify all of the skills or competencies required, there should be some idea of the critical roles that are required to deliver the What.
  4. When – When is the latest that the What must be delivered to enable the organization to achieve the Why?
  5. Where – where is the optimal location for the work to be performed and where will the What be used?
The project manager’s focus can now shift to the question that too often gets all the attention before there’s a good understanding of the five W’s: How?  This ensures that we don’t spend too much time on approach, methodologies and practices, without having first understood the project’s essence.