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How to Apply Agile Scrum Methodology With an Online Project Management Tool

Project management is one of the most important topics in modern business. All businesses are looking to remove clutter from their business processes and be as efficient as possible. This is how they are able to stay competitive and increase their profits. Depending on the type of business and the industry, there are countless approaches to project management. Today we will talk about Agile and Scrum methodologies, what they are and how they can be implemented in online project management tools. These are advanced, and more complex approaches that can serve organizations with complex needs and processes. In order to get to the project management part and see how these methodologies fit into this aspect of business, let’s first see what Agila and Scrum are. What is Agile? Agile is a type of software development methodology that has roots in iterative development, in which both solutions and requirements change during collaboration between cross-functional and self-organizing teams. Agile methods almost always require a very disciplined approach to project management, which includes constant adaptation and inspection, focus on teamwork, accountability and self-organization. On top of that, it also includes a predetermined set of engineering practices that will be used for the purpose of creating quality software in a short period of time. It also incorporates a business approach which looks to align development with the goals of the company and with its customer needs. Simply put, Agile development is any development that has incorporated all of the concepts that the Agile Manifesto has. The Agile Manifesto was created by some of the leading professionals in all of the software industry and its whole structure shows, based on their experiences in software development, what the right ways to approach software development are. What is Scrum? Scrum is a process framework which is used for agile development. It is the most widely used framework for agile development and it is “lightweight”. What is a process framework? This is a set of rules and practices which need to be followed so that a certain process can be completely consistent with the whole framework. What does lightweight mean? This means that it has practices that include keeping the overhead of a certain process as low as possible, in order to make the most out of the given time and maximise productivity on that process. The Scrum process is different than all the other agile concepts, and has some unique practices and concepts There are three categories into which these practices and concepts are divided including time boxes, artifacts, and roles. In most cases, Scrum is used to managed the development of complex products or software solutions while relying on incremental and iterative practices. Scrum has the power to increase productivity dramatically, while at the same time reducing the time needed to complete the processes. A scrum process can help an organization to quickly adjust to fast-changing requirements, while still ending up with a product that helps achieve the determined business goals, which evolve constantly. By using an agile scrum methodology based process, a business will be able to: Improve the quality of its deliverables Anticipate changes and adapt more easily to them Make estimates much quicker and be more accurate Have better control over the whole project state and schedule Individual assignments and tracking interactions When using the agile scrum approach in an online project management tool, you will probably start with some to-dos. Your end goal will be an event, advertisement, a product or basically anything else. Break up those big tasks that you will need to finish to achieve your goals, and you will create easily manageable items where you can assign tasks and prioritize better. The first results of incremental steps that appear can be shared, measured and tracked with other team members and this is the first iteration of your project management. Finding an online project management software tool which can create lists that you can use to organize workflow, assign tasks and set due dates while tracking progress is essential for this kind of approach. Constant collaboration for productive project management One of the essentials of agile scrum project management methodologies is on-going collaboration between team members on projects and not just brainstorming during the starting phases of a project. For determining new iterations, getting valuable user input on functionalities is vital when talking about software developers. However, if you are using an online project management tool for non-software development, it’s vital that different experts give their input while working together towards reaching a common goal. When team members can always comment in real-time, an agile workflow can help spark creativity, which can positively impact the whole project. Reviews and repetition Agile scrum project management has an iterative nature, which relies mostly on creating brand new repetitions of a certain software. These instances are updated constantly, as are user stories. It’s possible to apply a similar concept to other projects by locating where recurring steps are and setting them to repeat on their own. This is how project managers will be able to improve efficiency and consistency during the whole process, while at the same time revisiting and reconsidering the elements of your project. Adaptation Using agile scrum methodologies for online project management tools means that you will do something that most people like to avoid – the risks that the project carries. Like it or not, all projects inherently have risks and the best way to overcome these risks and avoid failure is to be flexible towards evolving your project development process. By encouraging interaction, collaboration, repetition, constant reviews and individual accountability, this type of project management will give you a flexible framework that will help your project development. It’s difficult to create expensive and long project plans simply because project managers will avoid adapting and changing things, given the fact that money has already been invested. This is why tackling these risks with an agile approach is better. When you consider all of the things mentioned above, it becomes clear how agile and scrum methodologies can be used in a project management tool for finishing projects that aren’t focused on developing new software. With these methodologies, you will be able to run a project while allowing your team members to be creative and, at the same time, providing real value to the project you are working on. Still, it’s important to know that learning these approaches is easy, but mastering them and utilizing their full potential takes time and experience.

How to Apply Agile Scrum Methodology With an Online Project Management Tool

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How to Apply Agile Scrum Methodology With an Online Project Management Tool

Project management is one of the most important topics in modern business. All businesses are looking to remove clutter from their business processes and be as efficient as possible. This is how they are able to stay competitive and increase their profits.

Depending on the type of business and the industry, there are countless approaches to project management. Today we will talk about Agile and Scrum methodologies, what they are and how they can be implemented in online project management tools.

These are advanced, and more complex approaches that can serve organizations with complex needs and processes. In order to get to the project management part and see how these methodologies fit into this aspect of business, let’s first see what Agila and Scrum are.

What is Agile?

Agile is a type of software development methodology that has roots in iterative development, in which both solutions and requirements change during collaboration between cross-functional and self-organizing teams. Agile methods almost always require a very disciplined approach to project management, which includes constant adaptation and inspection, focus on teamwork, accountability and self-organization.

On top of that, it also includes a predetermined set of engineering practices that will be used for the purpose of creating quality software in a short period of time. It also incorporates a business approach which looks to align development with the goals of the company and with its customer needs. Simply put, Agile development is any development that has incorporated all of the concepts that the Agile Manifesto has.

The Agile Manifesto was created by some of the leading professionals in all of the software industry and its whole structure shows, based on their experiences in software development, what the right ways to approach software development are.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a process framework which is used for agile development. It is the most widely used framework for agile development and it is “lightweight”. What is a process framework? This is a set of rules and practices which need to be followed so that a certain process can be completely consistent with the whole framework.

What does lightweight mean? This means that it has practices that include keeping the overhead of a certain process as low as possible, in order to make the most out of the given time and maximise productivity on that process. The Scrum process is different than all the other agile concepts, and has some unique practices and concepts

There are three categories into which these practices and concepts are divided including time boxes, artifacts, and roles. In most cases, Scrum is used to managed the development of complex products or software solutions while relying on incremental and iterative practices. Scrum has the power to increase productivity dramatically, while at the same time reducing the time needed to complete the processes.

A scrum process can help an organization to quickly adjust to fast-changing requirements, while still ending up with a product that helps achieve the determined business goals, which evolve constantly. By using an agile scrum methodology based process, a business will be able to:

  1. Improve the quality of its deliverables
  2. Anticipate changes and adapt more easily to them
  3. Make estimates much quicker and be more accurate
  4. Have better control over the whole project state and schedule

Individual assignments and tracking interactions

When using the agile scrum approach in an online project management tool, you will probably start with some to-dos. Your end goal will be an event, advertisement, a product or basically anything else. Break up those big tasks that you will need to finish to achieve your goals, and you will create easily manageable items where you can assign tasks and prioritize better.

The first results of incremental steps that appear can be shared, measured and tracked with other team members and this is the first iteration of your project management. Finding an online project management software tool which can create lists that you can use to organize workflow, assign tasks and set due dates while tracking progress is essential for this kind of approach.

Constant collaboration for productive project management

One of the essentials of agile scrum project management methodologies is on-going collaboration between team members on projects and not just brainstorming during the starting phases of a project. For determining new iterations, getting valuable user input on functionalities is vital when talking about software developers.

However, if you are using an online project management tool for non-software development, it’s vital that different experts give their input while working together towards reaching a common goal. When team members can always comment in real-time, an agile workflow can help spark creativity, which can positively impact the whole project.

Reviews and repetition

Agile scrum project management has an iterative nature, which relies mostly on creating brand new repetitions of a certain software. These instances are updated constantly, as are user stories. It’s possible to apply a similar concept to other projects by locating where recurring steps are and setting them to repeat on their own.

This is how project managers will be able to improve efficiency and consistency during the whole process, while at the same time revisiting and reconsidering the elements of your project.

Adaptation

Using agile scrum methodologies for online project management tools means that you will do something that most people like to avoid – the risks that the project carries. Like it or not, all projects inherently have risks and the best way to overcome these risks and avoid failure is to be flexible towards evolving your project development process.

By encouraging interaction, collaboration, repetition, constant reviews and individual accountability, this type of project management will give you a flexible framework that will help your project development.

It’s difficult to create expensive and long project plans simply because project managers will avoid adapting and changing things, given the fact that money has already been invested. This is why tackling these risks with an agile approach is better.

When you consider all of the things mentioned above, it becomes clear how agile and scrum methodologies can be used in a project management tool for finishing projects that aren’t focused on developing new software.

With these methodologies, you will be able to run a project while allowing your team members to be creative and, at the same time, providing real value to the project you are working on. Still, it’s important to know that learning these approaches is easy, but mastering them and utilizing their full potential takes time and experience.

Usha

Usha Sunil

Blog Author

Writing is Usha's hobby and passion. She has written widely on topics as diverse as training, finance, HR and marketing, and is now into technical writing and education. She keeps an interested eye on new trends in technology, and is currently on a mission to find out what makes the world go around.

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The  DevOps global market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.6 % to reach USD 12.85 billion in the next 5 years (Grand View Research) and DevOps engineers are much in demand across industries and sectors. If you’re seeking a career in DevOps, which certification should you undertake: ITIL® Vs Agile? 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Teams can use dedicated team rooms with writable wall surfaces and display areas where brainstorming sessions can take place. Facebook, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Salesforce and other forward-thinking organizations have also recognized the importance of providing their employees with creative, collaborative infrastructure and spaces that will help foster innovation and fuel productivity.How to Create an Agile Physical Environment An organization that wants to go agile can start by offering a conducive environment; one that equips its workforce with the right physical infrastructure and tools. They can do this in several ways:  By collocating the teamA collocated team that is able to hold face-to-face conversations is in the best position to collaborate well. When teams are in the same physical space, trust is enhanced, communication is encouraged, and transparency is the result. A workspace should ideally have no hierarchy at all, with open-plan workstations that allow people to collaborate more easily. They can get clarifications at once instead of waiting for online responses, and can help each other when they find themselves in a tough spot. However, in today’s world collocation of teams is not always an option. Teams that are distributed across geographies and time zones can take advantage of online collaboration tools such as Teams, ProofHub, Trello, Asana and so on to stay on the same page and keep in touch on a real-time basis. Set up a dedicated physical space Teams that are in the same location will perform better when they have a dedicated team room where they can work together in close proximity. One wall can be set up with whiteboards and pin up boards for team collaboration, mapping of tasks and so on. 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One thing that all Agile teams have in common is their capacity to have fun while they work.  are creative, flexible and think out of the box; and working on an Agile team is a far cry from working on a dreary, process-heavy waterfall project. By building in collaborative team activities and doing away with excessive documentation and rigid mandates, Agile team members are always on their toes and passionate about their work.  One of the innovative ways in which they work is by planning Poker, a consensus-based game that helps to arrive at estimates and work out timelines for releases. Let’s find out how to play Poker!  What Is Planning Poker? Definition and Process‘Planning Poker® is the secure, fun way for agile teams to guide sprint planning and build accurate consensus estimates.’ - planningpoker.com  There’s no doubting it; Agile estimation is very hard. A project in which the requirements are continually changing is definitely going to have volatility in terms of timeframes, budgets and schedules. How, then, can the team chalk out a roadmap and figure out milestones and releases? Arguably the most popular way to estimating schedules on an Agile project, Planning Poker is a technique that allows each team member to weigh in on the planning process for each user story.  Here’s how the process plays out: The team uses a deck of Planning Poker cards which have values printed on one side, say  0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40 and 100. These values represent the units in which the team will be carrying out the estimation, which could be (for example) story points or ideal days. The Product Owner describes a feature that needs to be developed. The team asks doubts, discusses the feature and gets the required clarity. Each estimator holds a set of Planning Poker cards and selects one card in private. The number on this card will indicate their estimate for the work on the feature. They place the card face down on the table. All the cards are revealed at the same time, so that no one is influenced by another person’s decision. If everyone has the same value, that is chosen as the estimate.  If not, outliers are discussed, and another round of estimation is carried out. This process is continued till the team arrives at a consensus for the estimate. The estimates for subsequent features are taken up one by one, in a similar manner. Common PitfallsThe process is not completely intuitive, and while it is simple it could take a newbie some time to get used to the concept. Teams that are new will, therefore, often fall short of the estimate or go too long. However, with experience they will be able to arrive at more accurate estimates. For a sprint with many features, this process could take longer than expected as each estimate might run into multiple rounds of consensus building. If there is one experienced member who is very dominating, he or she might lead the discussions and quell the opinions of others on the team (who might be saying the right thing but might not be heard). Again, this method does not always work well with distributed teams, as for the process to work well, they should ideally be in a face-to-face session. If the story is not fleshed out well, the estimate might not be accurate.Expected BenefitsThe most significant advantage of Planning Poker is that every team member’s voice is heard. This increases team morale and build the right rapport. The group gets into the rhythm of discussing and collaborating on the project, which will hold them in good stead for the rest of the journey. These discussions help to give clarity on the features to be built, and dispel any ambiguity around the user stories. This ‘game’ builds commitment and accountability. As each team member has contributed to the estimate, they will work toward achieving it wholeheartedly. Last but not least, Planning Poker is fun!  Agile Estimation – Relative Vs AbsolutMost of us are used to absolute estimates. Let’s take an example. If you’re asked, for instance, how long you would take to walk three rounds of a park, you’d probably say that you can walk one round at a brisk pace in 8 minutes. You are not going to tell them your answer in relative terms, for example, you would never tell them that you can walk one round in four fifths of the time it would take X to do the same! In Agile, however, we prefer to work with relative estimates, as this offers more flexibility. Story points are determinations of the effort needed to complete task A, relative to the effort needed to complete task B. As there is a lot of uncertainty around the requirements, and the team does not want to spend too much effort estimating on a task that might change very soon, story point estimation is the perfect way to arrive at a rough and ready calculation of the level of effort needed for a task. When Should We Engage in Planning Poker?Typically, a Planning Poker session will be held just after the initial product backlog is written. It could take up to a few days, and is useful in creating initial approximate estimates that will be used to determine the scope, and plan and size the entire project. In an Agile project, it is only to be expected that product backlog items get added as the project unfolds. It would therefore make sense for the team to hold subsequent agile estimating and planning sessions during every iteration. These sessions can be held a few days before the end of the iteration, or whenever the team feels it is most convenient. How Does Poker Planning Work with a Distributed Team?Planning Poker always works best with a team that can sit across a table and hold discussions. However, this is not always possible, especially when teams span geographies and work across different offices.  In such cases, Planning Poker can work over a conference call or a Skype session. A Product Owner could share a set of items that have to be estimated, and the estimators log in at a prescheduled time and pick and show their cards over the video call, in much the same way as they would in a face-to-face session. There is a moderator, usually the Product Owner, who leads the discussions and makes notes. Does Planning Poker Work?Yes, it certainly does, and teams that use this method report that they are able to arrive at more accurate estimates more consistently than when other methods are used. Averaging individual estimates will always lead to better results.The reason for this is that when team members are all allowed to weigh in on the planning process, everyone’s opinion is heard. This is not the case when estimation is carried out by a project manager who does not take the team’s opinions into account. Since it is the team members who are ultimately working on the project, they will have the best sense of the effort needed to finish each task.Tips for Planning Poker in ScrumPlaying Planning Poker for the first time? Here are some tips from the pros, to help you get your game going! While it is definitely a game, it’s a serious game and not to be taken lightly. Each member must carefully evaluate the feature and calculate the time they feel it would take to complete it in its entirety. If they have any doubts, they should get them clarified. The discussion that ensues will help the team to get going in the right direction during the development phase, as it clears the air and removes any ambiguity. Agile estimates are relative and should not be converted to work hours. This will negate the value of using flexible Agile story points. The estimate is team-level and not on an individual level, as the team drives the work. If your opinion differs from that of others, make sure that you speak up. Your understanding of the feature may be the right one. It’s also important to note that the team should never suppress the voice of each individual; rather they should hear what everyone has to say with patience and understanding. Keep the card sizes small. Most teams like to use numbers smaller than 13, as larger stories will not fit into one sprint. If the story is too large, it should be broken down into a manageable chunk of work. Even if someone on the team is new to Planning Poker, make sure that they are not excluded. The entire team must be engaged. Keep expectations realistic. Point value creep, which is a condition where the estimates of stories inexplicably become larger over time, leads to unrealistic expectations and too much pressure from stakeholders. This causes stress and burnout in the long run. In the End.... As with everything to do with Agile, Planning Poker is a process that sounds easy enough but might take time and experience to get right. Take our tips to heart and be wary of the potential pitfalls that we have listed out, and your team will be able to get the most benefit from this tool! 
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Planning Poker: An Agile Estimating and Planning T...

One thing that all Agile teams have in common is t... Read More

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