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Agile Adoption: Should It Be Data-Centric At All Levels Of The Organization?

Introduction to Data-centric Agile TransformationsTeams and Organizations adopt Agile to bring in the changes- faster turnaround, better results, quick reviews, dynamic teams.The mindset change that is constantly talked about in Agile is still challenging to fathom because no one really knows how much of a change it is. Yet, the philosophy seems nice to look at- people over tools, working software over documentation- yes everyone needs it.While teams get structured, work is re-evaluated, Scrum masters trained and Agile coaches hired, everyone knows change is coming. 66 days is what it takes for any change to happen… and no matter what your role is, this is tough on everybody.Data, as it happens, is so underused in Agile transformations that it needs a book by itself. Data-centric approach to Agile methodology can be used to inspire, create gamification models to encourage team dynamics as well as create a monitoring mechanism to help convince stakeholders that things are moving.So, let’s look at these categories and see how data can be mapped.IntrospectData is neutral and yet has the ability to create an environment of positivity. Used correctly (both qualitative and quantitative) in the early stages, it can help us understand and build the environment. The following points can help you introspect as a team as well as individually.The Happiness Index- On a scale of 1-5, rate your team on how happy you are working with them and give a reason for it. Done anonymously in team retros or just randomly is stand-ups, this brings out anger, conflicts, and reasoning in a completely different way. However, beware this works only when this is conducted by a third party (like an Agile coach/facilitator). The score, of course, stays for further comparisons in the future (you can do it release wise, yearly etc). It makes everyone open up; however at the same time realize their opinions matter or someone is listening. You can find the points that get repeated and connect with the right person who can get it resolved.Find Your Team Mate- In this scenario, ask your team to anonymously write one quality about themselves that no one’s know about (not related to work). Now take those sticky notes and put it up on a wall. On the other column write the name of the team members- now ask the team to match the quality with the name. This is an amazing exercise for any team whether the dynamics are good or bad, new team or seasoned team, co-located or distributed.The reason it works so well is, in our everyday mad rush at work, we often forget to appreciate each other as humans and focus on the skills and getting the work done. We don’t even know who we work with anymore. This exercise is always eagerly participated and the results astonish team members themselves. It gives introverts and extroverts the same playing field and helps teammates understand how to motivate each other.MotivateMotivation is essential in any Agile team and yet this is an overlooked category in transformations. We know from Harvard Business Review that happy teams take up more complex challenges (https://hbr.org/2013/04/to-find-happiness-at-work-tap). So, what data can be looked at to ensure teams are intrinsically challenged?1) Publish Case Studies- Publishing case studies of successful teams with adequate data might be a wonderful information radiator of teams that truly motivate others.2) Team Reports- For retrospections, using the available team data can bring insights which are otherwise difficult to trace. Team reports can start at a basic level and track:1. User Story Committed vs Delivered2. Team velocity3. Sprint Burn DownUnderstanding what they have done and where things could have been improved under the guidance of an able manager, should inspire teams to perform better in the next sprint.3) Value Stream Mapping- Look at the entire cycle flow for a sprint with your team, take the waste out, make changes to your practice, keep tracking, talking and changing till you think the process is completely yours.4) Defect Reports- While looking at what went wrong or missed isn’t always motivating in the short run, seeing and ensuring a root-cause analysis is done and changing the strategy accordingly and reducing the account definitely is a mood booster for teams.5) Velocity Charts- Another way of looking at what has been delivered in terms of complexities over a period of time and if the chart differs way too much, the reasoning behind when and in what condition more complexity was delivered. The dips could be because of holidays or new joiners or attrition rates.CamaraderieA happy team is a productive team. Conflicts and egos are added complexities that are best resolved immediately.Retrospective- Seeing what the trend has been as a team and if the action items are being resolved should improve the team dynamics to continuously strive to improve. Track the action items to the positive changes made in the team and publish the data. Or alternatively, find the trend and see where usually the blockers are, this set of data while can be used fantastically by the team it can also be used by the manager or the coach, who when implementing for another team will use strategies to ensure the same trend doesn’t surface.Kudo Cards- Recognitions from team members would be a wonderful feeling for anyone, tracking them over releases or yearly on what someone is doing to help can create team appraisals and not individual ones.To summarize, data is always your ally, nudging and pushing you towards the right direction. Data isn’t just for management/stakeholder reports which it’s usually thought out to be, it should be embraced with equal inquisitiveness by teams and coaches and anyone who is remotely really trying to understand how transformation happens and how teams and individuals react to it.Data-centric Agile transformations shouldn’t just be e-mails sent out by management, it should be about thinking deeply about what it entails, what might change, the reality, and the expectations.
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Agile Adoption: Should It Be Data-Centric At All Levels Of The Organization?

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Agile Adoption: Should It Be Data-Centric At All Levels Of The Organization?

Introduction to Data-centric Agile Transformations

Teams and Organizations adopt Agile to bring in the changes- faster turnaround, better results, quick reviews, dynamic teams.

The mindset change that is constantly talked about in Agile is still challenging to fathom because no one really knows how much of a change it is. Yet, the philosophy seems nice to look at- people over tools, working software over documentation- yes everyone needs it.

While teams get structured, work is re-evaluated, Scrum masters trained and Agile coaches hired, everyone knows change is coming. 66 days is what it takes for any change to happen… and no matter what your role is, this is tough on everybody.

Data, as it happens, is so underused in Agile transformations that it needs a book by itself. Data-centric approach to Agile methodology can be used to inspire, create gamification models to encourage team dynamics as well as create a monitoring mechanism to help convince stakeholders that things are moving.

So, let’s look at these categories and see how data can be mapped.

Introspect

Data is neutral and yet has the ability to create an environment of positivity. Used correctly (both qualitative and quantitative) in the early stages, it can help us understand and build the environment. The following points can help you introspect as a team as well as individually.

The Happiness Index- On a scale of 1-5, rate your team on how happy you are working with them and give a reason for it. Done anonymously in team retros or just randomly is stand-ups, this brings out anger, conflicts, and reasoning in a completely different way. However, beware this works only when this is conducted by a third party (like an Agile coach/facilitator). The score, of course, stays for further comparisons in the future (you can do it release wise, yearly etc). It makes everyone open up; however at the same time realize their opinions matter or someone is listening. You can find the points that get repeated and connect with the right person who can get it resolved.

Find Your Team Mate- In this scenario, ask your team to anonymously write one quality about themselves that no one’s know about (not related to work). Now take those sticky notes and put it up on a wall. On the other column write the name of the team members- now ask the team to match the quality with the name. This is an amazing exercise for any team whether the dynamics are good or bad, new team or seasoned team, co-located or distributed.

The reason it works so well is, in our everyday mad rush at work, we often forget to appreciate each other as humans and focus on the skills and getting the work done. We don’t even know who we work with anymore. This exercise is always eagerly participated and the results astonish team members themselves. It gives introverts and extroverts the same playing field and helps teammates understand how to motivate each other.

Motivate

Motivation is essential in any Agile team and yet this is an overlooked category in transformations. We know from Harvard Business Review that happy teams take up more complex challenges (https://hbr.org/2013/04/to-find-happiness-at-work-tap). So, what data can be looked at to ensure teams are intrinsically challenged?
1) Publish Case Studies- Publishing case studies of successful teams with adequate data might be a wonderful information radiator of teams that truly motivate others.

2) Team Reports- For retrospections, using the available team data can bring insights which are otherwise difficult to trace. Team reports can start at a basic level and track:

1. User Story Committed vs Delivered
2. Team velocity
3. Sprint Burn Down

Understanding what they have done and where things could have been improved under the guidance of an able manager, should inspire teams to perform better in the next sprint.

3) Value Stream Mapping- Look at the entire cycle flow for a sprint with your team, take the waste out, make changes to your practice, keep tracking, talking and changing till you think the process is completely yours.

4) Defect Reports- While looking at what went wrong or missed isn’t always motivating in the short run, seeing and ensuring a root-cause analysis is done and changing the strategy accordingly and reducing the account definitely is a mood booster for teams.

5) Velocity Charts- Another way of looking at what has been delivered in terms of complexities over a period of time and if the chart differs way too much, the reasoning behind when and in what condition more complexity was delivered. The dips could be because of holidays or new joiners or attrition rates.

Camaraderie

A happy team is a productive team. Conflicts and egos are added complexities that are best resolved immediately.

Retrospective- Seeing what the trend has been as a team and if the action items are being resolved should improve the team dynamics to continuously strive to improve. Track the action items to the positive changes made in the team and publish the data. Or alternatively, find the trend and see where usually the blockers are, this set of data while can be used fantastically by the team it can also be used by the manager or the coach, who when implementing for another team will use strategies to ensure the same trend doesn’t surface.

Kudo Cards- Recognitions from team members would be a wonderful feeling for anyone, tracking them over releases or yearly on what someone is doing to help can create team appraisals and not individual ones.

To summarize, data is always your ally, nudging and pushing you towards the right direction. Data isn’t just for management/stakeholder reports which it’s usually thought out to be, it should be embraced with equal inquisitiveness by teams and coaches and anyone who is remotely really trying to understand how transformation happens and how teams and individuals react to it.

Data-centric Agile transformations shouldn’t just be e-mails sent out by management, it should be about thinking deeply about what it entails, what might change, the reality, and the expectations.

Soma

Soma Bhattacharya

Blog Author

Soma Bhattacharya is an Agile Coach working out of Hyderabad (India). When not at work, she can be found reading (non fiction), running her blog www.steppingintopm.com, planning her next big project and exploring life

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Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, Kanban are different project management frameworks which are helping the companies to increase the productivity. These frameworks were created by the IT companies and especially web and application development companies because they needed a path but on which each and every employee can perform his daily tasks. However, out of these four frameworks, the Scrum is the most widely used framework in all the companies despite their nature of work. That is why in this article we are going to discuss the Scrum in detail to give you a better idea about this iterative framework which is making easier for the companies to complete their project. Scrum Objective: The basic objective of the Scrum is to keep the entire team on the same page throughout the project. The scrum framework allows the cross-functional work of the team of 4 to 10 members to provide the regular details and information sharing liberty so they can produce the best result. Scrum is a more like philosophical than the technical. It is a framework that can only be used as the guidance and there is no constant in it. All the success of the Scrum depends on the interactions among the stakeholders as it does the process. Scrum roles and responsibilities: The techniques of Scrum has become very popular and now considered to be the most important thing to do before starting any project. That is why the demand of the scrum masters and other professions related to the scrum has also increased, and people now are searching about the term scrum more. The scrum is a very specific and précised framework that is why it comprised on the following roles. Scrum Master Product Owner Scrum Team Stakeholders Because the term Agile is often get associated with the project managers that is why many people believe that the Scrum Master is also a term for the project managers. However, the Scrum Master serves very different purposes than the project manager. The Scrum Master works as a facilitator rather than the authoritative person who is responsible for the project delivery. The Scrum Master is a coach, motivator and problem solver who can only assist the team by using all his experience of Scrum framework. According to many Scrum Masters, applying Scrum within an organization is not the actual scrum process. You have to make the organization to accept your new role and then change its culture which is the most difficult thing to do in any company. The prominent role of every Scrum Master should be to enhance the power of the team by committing them to the sprint goals without any interference from the management. Let’s discuss the major roles of all the above points separately. Scrum Master: The Scrum Master is considered to be the top-dog in every organization because companies usually hire them and don’t treat them as permanent employ that is why they are with no authority. It is their duty to remove all the hindrance or obstruction in the way of achieving any goal. It is also their role to enforce scrum ceremonies and processes. They are the ones who commit to goals and deadlines on behalf of the team. Product Owner: The product owner is responsible for conveying the vision of the stakeholders to the team. They have the authority to alter the scope. The Product Owners are responsible for the return on investment (ROI) that is why they occupy an authoritative position in the firm. Because they convey the vision of the stakeholders that is why they are the voice of the stakeholders. Not only with the team, but they also communicate with the stakeholders about progress and problems. Scrum Team: The Scrum Team is responsible for all the activities that lead them towards their sprint goals. They have to work with the Scrum Master to prioritize the items from the product backlog in the sprint planning. Once committed, it is their responsibility to fulfil the commitment and deliver the agreed results on time with great quality. The Scrum Master is not responsible for keeping his team organized that is they it is the duty of the Scrum Team to get self-organized. They have to be agile in the office and have to attend every standup and other ceremonies. They have to participate in all the meetings despite their nature and have to ensure that all the findings of the meetings are getting practically addressed in the project. Stakeholders: The Stakeholder has to keep a healthy relationship with the Product Owner in order to share every detail regarding his project. The Stakeholder is responsible for conveying his wishes and concerns to the product owner or else the product owner would not be responsible for his project quality and time duration. The Stakeholder has to provide regular input to queries from the Product Owner. Prioritizing the work affectively with the Product Owner is another job that the Stakeholder has to do to ensure his project development. Keep taking updates or keep giving updates regarding any change in the plans.
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In this fast-moving world, project management has become one of the most important pillars that are helping businesses run without any glitch in their processes. Both small and large scale organizations around the world are exploiting technology and depending on project management systems to deliver the software development project successfully. Whether it is team workflow management or timing, these tools help to ensure that everything is going well without any obstacles. While there are tens of different project management approaches, Agile is considered one of the most practical and flexible software development mechanism that exist today. It is capable of executing a variety of tasks, but what sets it apart from others? Let’s find it out. 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When a traditional system focuses on upfront planning where factors like cost, scope, and time are given importance, Agile management gives prominence to teamwork, customer collaboration, and flexibility. It is an iterative approach that focuses more on incorporating customer feedback and continuous releases with every iteration of software development project. The basic concept behind Agile software development is that it delves into evolving changes and collaborative effort to bring out results rather than a predefined process. Adaptive planning is perhaps the biggest feature of Agile and one that makes it a crowd favorite among project managers. Scrum and Kanban are two of the most widely used Agile frameworks. They are very well known for encouraging decision-making and preventing time consumption on variables that are bound to change. It stresses customer satisfaction and uses available teams to fast-track software development at every stage. The table below shows the major differences between Agile project management and traditional project management.                                                                                Table: Agile project management vs traditional project management Why is Agile Preferred and why not the traditional project management? Agile is preferred by most developers and managers because of a variety of reasons. Let’s have a look at the most common ones: Project complexity Traditional: This method is the best fit for small or less complex projects as it follows linear approach. Sudden changes in the project or any other complexities can block the entire process and make the team go back to step one and start all over again. Agile: This is the best methodology to follow in case of complex projects. A complex project may have various interconnected phases and each stage may be dependent on many others rather than a single one as in simple projects. 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And the project managers can take calculated risks in such scenario, as there is a chance of high adaptability.  Scope for feedback and changes Traditional Each and every process is clearly detailed and defined at the start of the project in the traditional approach. It cannot deal with any big change or feedback that might require a change in the process. Mostly, the project delivery time and budget are fixed, allows change very rarely. Agile There is a high acceptance for feedback and change in this method. The process is very flexible and allows constant feedback that can help to provide better output within the fixed project delivery time. The main reason that managers or developers choose agile direction is for the flexibility it offers. Developers working with Agile management are able to respond to customer requests quickly as they are only addressing small parts of the project at a time and the customer validates each iteration or sprint before finalizing. Some of the important characteristics of Agile development Breaks project into parts Agile divides a project into parts (called iterations) where the release is sent to the customer after every single iteration. Additionally, the success of the project can be easily foreseen through the success of these iterations. This removes the need for upfront planning completely. Self-organized As mentioned above, Agile uses a parallel mode of management. Employees of a company are not managed by a central line of control, but by groups. For example, in Agile, there may be eight teams working on a single project. Each team is managed by itself without external guidance. The teams only interact with each other for project discussion and process linking as they are otherwise not self-sufficient. Generally speaking, an Agile project consists of three parts: The product owner – the expert on the project (for which the product is being developed) and is the main person who oversees the projects The scrum master – this person manages the process involved in Agile. He/she looks after the iterations and its completion The team – individuals who play significant and minor roles in the software development process Customer Engagement In Agile, customer engagement is at the very top. The customer is regarded highly in its frameworks as after every iteration, feedback is generated and acted upon. Overall, Agile is clearly the winner among project management systems. When compared with other traditional approaches, Agile’s features come to the fore and reiterate why it is one of the top software used by companies globally. Can Agile Coexist with Other Approaches? This is a question asked by many project managers, and opinions of experts seem to be divided. While some say it is possible for Agile to coexist with traditional project management systems, they suggest being cautious and using them for different terms. For example, using two different approaches on the same project can be counter-productive and highly explosive. As Agile and most other frameworks are totally contrasting to each other, the projects may go for a toss. On the other hand, some experts believe that it is not possible for Agile and other tools to co-exist because of their contrast. Using them together can cause disorder in the entire company system, making the productivity to go for a toss. Agile vs Traditional- Adoption Growth According to a recent online survey of 601 IT and development professionals, it is proved that Agile is the new typical formula for project success. The majority of projects and development teams are now adopting this methodology, while the traditional waterfall approaches have many flaws.    Traditional organizations vs. #Agile organizations #SALC16 pic.twitter.com/bBgxkQB1fI — Scrum Alliance (@ScrumAlliance) January 20, 2016 Agile was first introduced about 15 years ago as a substitute for traditional software development approaches. Many people considered it as challenging to implement traditional approach practices and Agile adopters stated that this new style of software development improves team collaboration and is more customer-centric.  Though Agile method was present more than a decade ago, the vast majority of organizations have adopted the practice in the last 5 years. Moreover, the survey reported that agile adoption saw an inflection point between the year 2009-2010. As shown in the above figure, agile adoption seems to have slow incremental growth till 2008 and then its growth was accelerated after gaining traction in the market. Reasons for the transition to Agile Most of the organizations who transitioned from traditional to agile project management have listed the following reasons: Improves collaboration between teams- 54% Enhances the quality level of software in organizations- 52% Results in enhanced customer satisfaction- 49% Speeds time to market- 43% Reduces development cost- 42% The Verdict In the traditional software development, the customer involves only before the start of the development process. So, there might be a number of mistakes and a large amount of money needs to be spent to rework on them. Since in the Agile software development, the customer involves at each stage, the corrections can be made once the defects are detected. This helps us in saving cost. As we can see, Agile project management is really in-demand for teams. It helps the team to work on the top priority ones at the right time and allows them to walk through the risks much faster than they would with traditional project management tools.  
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Agile Project Management Vs. Traditional Project M...

In this fast-moving world, project management has ... Read More