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5 Hurdles that Scrum Masters Commonly Face

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Agile beyond IT – Streamlining The Recruitment Process

Recruitment is a challenging, time-consuming and costly process. It is not only challenging for the recruiter, but also challenging for the candidates.In one of my previous engagements, I had a chance to work with the hiring team to help streamline the Agile recruitment process and make it a wow experience for the recruiters as well as for the candidates. I would like to share the experience we had and how we built an improved Agile recruitment process by streamlining the process.The Challenge: Making the Agile recruitment process more streamlined and visibleFor one of the organizations distributed geographically, we had vacancies across various skill sets to be fulfilled within a certain timeline. However, we faced certain challenges which were typical to any hiring processes.Identifying the right talent and making the whole hiring process faster, visible and streamlined was an issue.Few of the challenges which we faced are listed below:Usage of the traditional talent acquisition tool for tracking the candidate’s profile.Prioritization is usually by whoever shouts loudest.The process was not harmonized across all business units.Non-availability of interviewer to interview the candidates.No established feedback communication channel (candidate and all stakeholders).Usage of too many spreadsheets, recurring meetings, emails for synchronization resulting in:Delay in responding back to the candidates.Delay in sharing the updates on the fulfillment leading to dissatisfaction among the candidates, hiring managers as well as the client.How did we get started?To respond to the above challenges, a meeting was scheduled between the recruitment team, engineering team and we brainstormed and identified a few of the pain areas that needed to be addressed on priority.One of the things which the team identified was that with multiple meetings, e-mails with CV from various sources, there was a delay in identifying and interviewing the candidate and that made the whole candidates suffer.At the same time, we had the executives and business heads across the various business units looking for a consolidated report on the status of the number of open positions and the hiring pipeline daily.So, we planned with priorities and focused on resolving the following-Make the candidate interviewing and onboarding process faster.Provide better visibility and reports to the senior management.Faster feedback mechanism.Agile and Kanban- Tools to make an Agile recruitment process efficientWe all know that the recruitment process is very dynamic. With every iteration, the requirement for the fulfilment may tend to change. To have a better control over the recruitment process and a quick adoption, Agile recruitment seems to be the way forward.As a team, we decided to start with Kanban and the reasons for the same are mentioned below:There was no need to change the current workflow to adopt this process of visualization.We tweaked a little bit and used only the visualization principles to help visualize the flow.We wanted to ensure that everybody has a visual representation of the workflow to help identify the bottlenecks. All the stakeholders became aware of the profiles in the pipeline and how we are moving across the different stages. It helped identify any bottleneck in the flow and take remedial actions.Focus on flowOur aim was to help decrease the candidate’s waiting time. By focusing on the flow of our hiring process, we wanted to spot issues before they arise and help improve communications as well as the candidate profile aging over time.Practice continuous feedback.Frequent connect to review, reflect and make suggestions for further improvement. Tweak wherever necessary.It offers the flexibility to the team.How did the process work?We started first with the candidate board to keep track of each of the candidate through the recruitment process. We started to map out the different steps that follow a candidate through our process and accordingly map each columnBelow is the sample Kanban board in Trello-This helped the team in visualization and identifying the bottleneck leading to a quicker resolution.How did we improve?We could see that the recruitment process was on its path to getting streamlined but as a team, we used to reflect and looked at ways of improving the process. We did the following:Had daily and weekly catch up and used to take feedback on what areas we can improve upon and accordingly modify the board.After a few months, we realized that we need to track the candidate’s onboarding to help the candidate’s experience to turn out to WOW. We updated the board to include the same.We also realized that the profiles can come from various sources (internal, referral, agencies etc.). We looked at updating the board to capture the source of the profile.How Kanban helped in creating an Agile hiring process?We knew that we were on the right track when we started visualizing the following:1) Focus on Priority Items:Everybody knew what’s coming down the pipeline, and we were ready for it.Candidate profiles didn’t get lost in the process.Helped in better prioritization of the demand.2) Increased Visibility:We could see the problems before they happened and pivoted.Greater visibility of the candidate status in the hiring process.3) Increased Communication:Faster decision making on the candidature.Quicker feedback to the candidate on the profile status.Better communication between hiring, engineering, management and customer.Building and fostering a collaborative environment.4) Time-saving:Time-saving by scrapping many meetings and e-mail loops.Applying Agile principles to the hiring process is not simple. It involves re-inventing the current process and applying the principles.However, Agile implementation in hiring process doesn’t need to be complicated in the beginning. We need to  look at the current process and identify the areas where we can leverage and improve the process.
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Agile beyond IT – Streamlining The Recruitment P...

Recruitment is a challenging, time-consuming and c... Read More

The Required ‘Cultural Transition’ For Agile-Scrum Teams

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. But it is the one who is most adaptable to change" - Charles DarwinTechnology today is evolving rapidly at an exponential rate. Business entities in order to survive and thrive must adopt and adapt to technological advancements at a rapid rate. The dwindling profit margins, the shrinking in time to market, globalization, and the technological advancement of competitors mandate organizations to innovate put out their products and services as soon as possible.Software project management has evolved rapidly over the last few years. Organizations large and small alike are rapidly transitioning into using Agile software development and engineering frameworks resulting in technology advancement at an exponentially rapid pace. The struggle of adopting and adapting to Agile delivery for organizations and teams alike is well understood and documented. The culture of the organization and the team plays an important role to facilitate this agile adoption.The effects of globalization and technology have a direct impact on the Software Development Industry as well. Software project management too has evolved rapidly over the last few years to cater to this change. Organizations large and small alike are transitioning into using change-driven software development and engineering frameworks rather than sticking with plan-driven software project management approaches.However, the struggle of adapting to Agile practices is a universal problem and this may the case for years to come. An area of difficulty in terms of this adaptation to agility is organization and team culture. Today, through this article we will look at the culture of traditional plan-driven software development organizations and then the requirement of culture for change-driven Agile Software Development organizations.Culture as an enablerCulture is often defined as ‘the way things work around here’.  Schein (1980) defines culture as the pattern of basic assumptions that a group learns, or which is taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, feel and think in relation to situations they encounter. Many organizations do similar activities, but no two organizations do activities or tasks in the exact same way as the other, and no two organizations feel the same.Transformation into an Agile team should first happen at an organization level that they can be cascaded down to the team level. It is the senior leadership’s responsibility (owners and CXO’s) to embrace agility, and then to create the corporate values, beliefs, behaviors, and practices necessary to activate this culture. Scrum masters as the Agile leadership of the organization must understand this corporate culture and then adapt the same to teams as necessary. Schein defines the culture at 3 levels.Level 1: Artifacts or the visible features, which reflects the culture (roles and people, symbols, narratives, activities etc.)Level 2: Beliefs and values which the organization and the scrum team (leadership, integrity, trust, etc.)Level 3: The deepest and most important level which consists of assumptions which shape level 2 and level 1 elements listed above.The Agile leadership is responsible for creating and communicating cultural elements at all 3 levels to team members so that they understand, embrace and develop the Agile culture.The transition in Agile cultureBelow is a depiction of 4 basic types of culture as defined by Handy (1999).Traditionally software development organizations followed plan-driven SDLC approaches to develop and deliver solutions. The Power and Role cultures were evidently visible in these sort organizations. The power in terms of initiating a project, deciding on the resource requirements, deciding on the budget and deciding on the scope was with a few key individuals within the organization. Role of the customer account manager, project manager and the other project roles such as developer, business analyst, QA engineer was clearly defined. If any information was required or if a client demonstration was to be carried out the team had to wait for a considerable period of time to communicate, take necessary approvals and to implement the same. These organizations and teams inherently had the problems of role conflicts, contradicting priorities, miscommunication and slow decision making which ultimately resulted in delayed low-quality projects.The task and person cultures are more suitable for Scrum projects. Yes, the scrum master, product owner, and implementation team roles and the communication lines defined properly for an Agile project to run smoothly. But the team must be self-organizing to identify tasks to perform in order to create and deliver value to the relevant stakeholders. Each team member must be a cross-functional team player capable of fitting into any role and perform any task as required to deliver the solution. The scrum master must facilitate discussion within and across multiple teams and stakeholders as deemed fit to remove impediments and move the project forward. Team and individual success must be celebrated along with the achievement of common project objectives.For more information on types of culture please watch the video through below link.ConclusionAgile requires a paradigm shift, which is more specifically a shift in the culture of management to leadership. This must come from the top down and be embedded in corporate strategy. Harmonious dissemination of this information to all relevant stakeholders both internal and external will ensure the success of Agile projects.
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The Required ‘Cultural Transition’ For Agile-S...

"It is not the strongest of the species that survi... Read More

5 Hurdles that Scrum Masters Commonly Face

Agile has gained a significant track and has been adopted by all organizations. Agile Methodology today has become one of the most popular and most dynamic project management styles among the software development teams. And Agile is also being adopted by various other functions. It is important to note that Agile can be applied to many types of teams and projects and should not be thought of as limited to engineers or software development projects only.We run all our software delivery through an Agile methodology called Scrum. Scrum is well-recognized amongst engineering teams, but a variety of teams across industries have come to love the Scrum way. From manufacturing to operations and education, businesses of all kinds have used Scrum practices and successfully. As long as your projects involve a concrete product, Scrum can work for you. We have been using Scrum for last few years and have some great success with it. But, still the Team come across various common Scrum Pitfalls.Many organizations are adopting Agile and Scrum for producing higher quality products and services.As per the statistics are given by PwC, “Agile projects are 28% more successful than traditional projects.”Almost three-quarters (71%) of organizations report using Agile approaches sometimes, often, or always. (source: capterra)So why not,Organizations are hiring Scrum Masters for implementing Scrum Framework. It’s a sole responsibility of a Scrum Master to make sure it’s fully implemented and followed by the team in an organization.Scrum is easy to understand but hard to implementWho is a Scrum Master?The Scrum Master is a champion for a Scrum team. He coaches the team, the product owner, and the business. The Scrum Master is a multitasker were deeply understands the work being done by the team, motivates the team and makes sure that the teams are following the Scrum processes and will also work together with them to continuously improve them.How important is a Scrum Master?Scrum Master also ranks on the top of the hierarchy on most of the Agile or Scrum Process, with an eye towards a better understanding of role and importance, here is a closer look at the Scrum Master roles. 1. Scrum Master plays a vital role in the success of the project, he serves as a glue that can hold the entire project.2. Scrum Master may not participate in daily Scrum meetings but supports the entire team.3.  Scrum Master helps in strengthening the Agile development team4.  Scrum Master facilitates team meetings, which also includes Daily Stand-up5.  Scrum Master aims to deliver the maximum value to the customer.Let’s have a look at the 5 hurdles that Scrum Master commonly face:1. Managing Role ExpectationsMany organizations, as well as the upper management, confuses the role of the Scrum Master with a Project Manager. However, the most important thing that we all should know is that the Scrum Master is a Scrum facilitator for a team as well as an organization.However, sometimes management expectations are different, which makes the life of a Scrum Master little harder. We all need to understand that Scrum Master is a facilitator, a guide, a process follower and most importantly, a Servant Leader.2. Change ResistanceAs per Mike Cohn, it is the social aspect of change that can create resistance, all resistance comes from specific individuals. Teams or departments do not resist changing to Scrum, Individuals do.So, when we talk about Scrum implementations, the Scrum Master is the change agent for the same. It’s a major hurdle faced by a Scrum Master during the implementation. Change Resistance is not a surprise, it’s the most expected reaction whenever a new change is introduced.                                                      Tip: Choose a length of the Sprints in such a way that it can resist change.There are many ways for adopting Scrum patterns and overcoming change resistance. You will get that Scrum adopting patterns in my previous article- Patterns For Adopting & Spreading Scrum In Organizations.3. Keeping everything Time-Boxed        When we talk about implementing Sprints, every event is supposed to be time-boxed in order to get productive results. For example, the Daily Scrum event should not exceed 15 minutes, but in reality, we see team members start discussing their technical difficulties and the meeting goes longer than the allotted time. It’s one of the most common challenges for any Scrum Master.Well, a funny thing to try to overcome this hurdle is to make the team members stand for 15 minutes. Hide all the chairs! They will eventually get tired and finish up the meeting.4. Handling Urgent Change RequestsScrum Masters follow the rule when implementing Scrum which is to never accept changes within the Sprint. We can handle the change requests at the end of the sprint or at the start of the Sprint but not in between. However, in a practical world, we see Product Owners/Customers/Stakeholders coming up with an urgent change requests or bugs.However, it’s also not good to blindly follow the process without understanding the business and market aspects. It’s always better to communicate, collaborate with all the Stakeholders, replan and then make good decisions.5. Distributed TeamsIt is one of the most common barriers faced by a Scrum Master. When the teams are distributed geographically, there are sometimes delays, network issues, cultural or regional issues, different Time Zones, different working hours, it is always difficult to get everyone connected and collaborate/communicate with everyone.Thanks to all the technologies, applications out there that help us overcome this hurdle whether it’s communication, video conferencing, there are many tools available.Scrum Master also come across the following challenges:1. Scrum Master acts as an admin:Basically, Scrum Master tasks start with booking meetings, scheduling events, taking notes, and inviting people to ceremonies. All these may be the primary function of the Scrum Master and these deals with making the team be effective. The tasks involve various challenges.2. Lack of Agile training for the teams:As the Scrum Master is meant for the team, it’s a responsibility to make sure all your team members have foundational Agile training. This is one of the most problem faced by Scrum Master.To summarize, I would say, these are the just the “Hurdles” commonly faced by Scrum Masters but not the “Blockages”. These obstacles can be jumped over, with good skills, expertise and, experience in Scrum implementations. Keep Learning!
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5 Hurdles that Scrum Masters Commonly Face

Agile has gained a significant track and has been ... Read More