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What is an "Integrated Product Team" ?

Product and process technology is quickly evolving, and competition with opponents is becoming tougher across the globe. Customers are emphasizing enhanced features and authenticity, but reduced defense spending requires stress on excellence and affordability. These changing and challenging circumstances require the implementation of integrated product development concepts to lessen development cycle time and strengthen product quality when delivered to the customer.Integrated Product Development (IPD) focuses on the integrated design of products and production and support processes. The design of the product and the process must be combined to ensure the optimal approach to manufacture and support the product. What Is the Importance of the Product Team? The role of the Product team is to execute business strategy while also playing the purpose of market advocate. They confirm that ideas implemented are in association with the overall corporate strategy. Product team leads the company to deliver competitive products that are in line with market needs and help the company reach business goals.The following points characterize a good product team.The product team has a clear understanding of customers’ challenges and goals. As a team they share a strong purpose and vision and work tirelessly to solve the problem they are facing. The product team lists assumptions for each product or list feature idea and convert these to testable theories. They spend A LOT of time on researching and testing. The product team builds their roadmaps around hurdles that they would like to solve for the customers. The product team involves the whole team in resolving customer challenges. The entire team is employed in designing, prototyping and testing a solution. After the product teams delivers a new feature, they measure the success of it based on the insights of the initial customer discovery. Customer feedback and insights enable the team to learn tirelessly and they try out new approaches for solving their customers’ problems. They have an overall idea of the existing solutions that customers have. They assume what customers struggle with, and what the potentials for improvements could be. The product team is conscious that what is accomplished today might not be the best solution tomorrow. They continuously seek feedback from users, customers, and leads, and are conscious of where the market is moving. They update the customer pain points, personas, customer goals, and product expectations. The product team doesn’t work in isolation. They collude closely with sales, marketing, and support teams. They impart a lean approach for learning and responding to customer behavior all across an organization. The product team will understand the latest technology first and will adopt it only after experimenting with it and ensuring to achieve the solution that fits users' actual usage and expectations. They will contribute to building conceptual MVPs and testing product ideas, rather than wasting valuable time on perfecting technology before placing it in front of users. What Are Integrated Product Teams? An integrated product team (IPT) is a multidisciplinary combination of people who are collectively accountable for delivering a designated product or process. The emphasis of the IPT is on the relationship of all stakeholders in a collaborative forum. IPTs were introduced to the U.S. in 1995 as part of the major acquisition reforms to the way goods and services were acquired. IPTs are used in complex development programs/projects for inspection and decision making. The emphasis of the IPT is on the involvement of all stakeholders in a collaborative forum. There are three types of IPTs that every procurement program will implement: Overarching IPTs: Concentrate on imperative guidance, program evaluation, and issue resolution Working-level IPTs: Recognize and resolve program issues, discover program situation, and examine opportunities for procurement reform Program-level IPTs: Focus on program accomplishment and may include representatives from both government and industry after contract award. Integrated Product and Process Development is the management method that simultaneously integrates all necessary procurement activities through the use of IPT to optimize design, manufacturing, and supportability methods. The remarkable success of the integrated product and process development (IPPD) at companies such as Boeing, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard has prompted many manufacturers to focus renewed importance on this critical aspect of concurrent engineering. Below are the principles of integrated product development Good consumer relationships, frequent interactions, and feedback practices lead to more solid understanding of customer’s/user’s needs. Customer association enhances the possibility of the product meeting the needs and being successful in the market. Integrate product development, R&D with the business strategy and business plans. Defines the influence on time-to-market, product development and competitive advantage. Quick implementation of Marketing/ program management, manufacturing, material, test, quality, and product support employees in product improvements reduces design renewals, repetition, and production obstacles. Authorized, self-directed teams have more refined control and are dedicated to development goals.   The manufacturing and product support methods should be integrated with the design of products in order to optimize the performance and have a seamless product life cycle process implemented.   Development team members should be associated with the plans and proposals for new products or programs to obtain their input and engagement. Manage non-recurring development expenses by effective planning; incremental, low-risk development; and by maintaining project scope.   Utilize the expertise of the specialists/ experts during product development and optimize product designs. Control schedule balance and welcome improvements/ suggestions by suppliers/experts to generate more reliable products at lower costs.   Quality Design, engineering, architecture, and reliable procedures give an efficient way to recognize the role and interaction of products. Implement lessons learned to avoid repeating past mistakes and conduct surveys to ensure all design problems and risks have been properly addressed.   Integration of CAM mechanisms helps to have design/definition with fewer errors, higher accuracy, and a drop-in lead time to production. Software re-usability with object-oriented design brings a high level of productivity to the software.    Modeling, interpretation, and simulation tools help to develop and refine both product and process design inexpensively. They also help to develop the design and decrease the number of time-consuming iterations for mock-ups and developmental prototypes.   Re-engineering the product design process, decreasing the activities which don't provide value, continuous integration of technical tools, design activities, and recommended methodologies will improve the process design. When Are Integrated Product Teams Crucial? IPTs organize development group to enable Concurrent Engineering, Integrated Product Development, or Lean Product Development. They are used for the purpose of developing and delivering a product or service to their customer(s). While collaboration and transparency across developments are important for the success of every project, it’s certainly dangerous for complex projects with a significant downstream impact. A quick research of IPTs will reveal that they are crucial as they are associated with defense projects. How to Form an Integrated Product Team Creating an IPT takes more than the individuals involved - it requires a well-thought-out framework.Use the following framework to start organizing your integrated product team:Plan DevelopmentCustomer focus decides the needs of customers, products that meet needs, and current capabilities. Perform a gap analysis on these factors. The organization must cater to the product in IPD, not the other way around. Set up a team and determine required resources like hardware, software, space, and outside contractors. Communication and TrainingTrain the team when required. Appoint a team leader who can manage individual team members on the IPD philosophy. Don’t scrimp on investment in training, and use it as an opportunity to cross-pollinate teams who earlier rarely interacted, like business strategy members and software developers.  Improvement of Development ProcessSuccessful product development begins with a tested, clear, and well-executed process. The plan should then follow a logical and disciplined sequence of development phases. Product Development helps to perfect the end-to-end process and this enables a development team to turn great ideas into highly successful products. Team Relationships and ResponsibilitiesTeam relationships unite design and engineering teams to create a friendly work relationship that transposes to intuitive products. Designers and engineers collaborate to support each other’s phases. This helps teams to create innovative and intuitive products.  Create MetricsDefine success and present metrics to different teams for significant comparison. Engineers handling timely delivery, responsiveness, etc are good common measures. Processes, Activities, and DecisionsIPTs must continuously develop. Divide the task to departmental leaders and team members for recording activity and decisions implemented.Why Integrated Product Development Fails to Take Hold There are times when organizations fail to launch integrated product teams or they never do so, and there could be many reasons for this. Even with the most suitable management and employees, an integrated product team might be difficult, if not impossible, to be launched.  Here are some factors to be avoided:Overestimation The ideas or concepts may not too hard to understand, but embedding them in the right position requires knowledge of project management and coordination at all levels affiliated with IPD. If the management observes the IPD concept and rearranges the organizational chart without embracing the spirit of the methodology, it will never gain a foothold. A skilled approach and team of consultants might be essential to improve, set up, and mentor everyone in the team.  PrioritizationSetting up preferences is a talent expected from the experts working in the team and the results anticipated may not appear overnight. There may be too many cogs to get the engine active right away. If stakeholders notice a fad project management method and observe that results will not materialize easily, the integrated product team would fail. The required commitment of the team is the key to the success of any project.  Culture of OrganizationEvery organization’s culture is not set to seamlessly work with IPD principles. A developer workroom may follow Scrum, and a product design agency may acknowledge multi-org coordination. If an organization is resistant to changes, it might not be able to manage IPD.   Clarity of RolesIf there is no concrete direction as to who is accountable for what on a developer team, and who reports to whom, the project would be uncontrollable.  No Follow UpA vital part of the process is following-up and obtaining the progress reports from the team at regular intervals. If the management isn’t monitoring the process; the team might lose their motivation to work with full zeal.  Meager InvestmentA meager amount of money and no time to train the IPD practitioners results in negative improvement of the IPD team and they are bound to fail. A long-term investment would boost returns only when it is managed accurately. We attain proficiency not only in mitigating our errors at each iteration but also in enhancing working relationships among team members.  Team CoordinationThe team members must accept their responsibilities. IPD requires a higher-level of coordination on the part of employees. If team members neglect their roles, the project will collapse for e.g. interacting with vendors has been the purview of account managers, and planning out schedules was the precinct of project managers.DisincentivesIt is essential to analyze, review and realign policies and incentive structures properly, else team members would not cooperate with other team members and this may delay delivery.Key Factors to Make Ipd Adoption Successful  Below are the key factors which, when followed efficiently, would make IPD adoption successful. All stakeholders and management should be aligned to a single objective. The owner should marshal the resources required for the project, else it can negatively impact their project by not providing the needed leadership.  Adopting a scientific strategy and its implementation depends on building the plan, implementation of the plan, and constant review of the implemented plan. Sharing the risk of scope and budget between parties helps in establishing the fine line required for the best project economization. Implementation of modern methods and technology within the organization framework helps in achieving the end results at high standards. Skilled manpower is another essential key factor and organizations should make investments in human capital. The customer is the central focus point of IPD. Constant feedback from the customer is essential for IPD to be a success. IPD is a suitable design approach that, when successfully implemented, can address all the concerns of modern organizations in the globalized world. Project Management Tools and Integrated Product Development  A product development roadmap template can help to sketch out the high-level concept of your product. However, there is a different way to enhance the process: using the right software tools.  Below are the benefits accrued when using the right product management software: Manage your resources more effectively Set a more realistic product development schedule Find the charts that work for you Use real-time reports for deeper insights Centralize communication and your product visionAdvantages of Integrated Product Development What makes IPD so beneficial? Following are the advantages they yield for new product development.  Modernization and TechnologyProject innovations in development and manufacturing are needed to beat competitors in the market. Long-play investments in R&D for your current project may pay off in the future because the IPD formed will be working efficiently. Depreciates CostsIPD’s principle of continuous process improvement, MVP, and reducing redundancy and rework means that costs will decrease.  Overwhelms Risk of Product FailureReinforcing regular communication will result in mitigating design flaws or manufacturing errors. By including stakeholders early on and at all stages of the conversation, issues that could arise in the future can be predicted earlier.  If the team is working together well and sharing notes, product failure is unlikely to happen. Quality and InnovationProduct failure is reduced when the strongest minds of each discipline come together and collaborate, rather than non-practitioners delivering direction or partially-committed vendors just phoning in a one-time job.  Stakeholder ParticipationIPD’s true advantage is that it encourages participation from all stakeholder organizations. Customer perspectives are brought from research, and intellectual consent from all stakeholders is the only way forward. ConclusionIntegrated product development theories are not exceptional and new in product development organizations and many of these methods have been used in the past. But as the size and complexity of companies increased, the industry lost many of these practices. The concepts of IPD are simple, but the implementation of these practices and the process of changing a company’s culture is challenging. Success can be achieved with a well-planned and managed effort. Management must understand not only the concepts of IPD but the process of managing change within the organization.  The purpose of IPD is to decrease later stage design changes, decrease project risks, and keep costs low. A company can accomplish the benefits of full life cycle design alongside the efficiency of multi-disciplinary teams by efficiently executing integrated product development processes. 

What is an "Integrated Product Team" ?

6K
What is an

Product and process technology is quickly evolving, and competition with opponents is becoming tougher across the globe. Customers are emphasizing enhanced features and authenticity, but reduced defense spending requires stress on excellence and affordability. These changing and challenging circumstances require the implementation of integrated product development concepts to lessen development cycle time and strengthen product quality when delivered to the customer.

Integrated Product Development (IPD) focuses on the integrated design of products and production and support processes. The design of the product and the process must be combined to ensure the optimal approach to manufacture and support the product. 

What Is the Importance of the Product Team? 

The role of the Product team is to execute business strategy while also playing the purpose of market advocate. They confirm that ideas implemented are in association with the overall corporate strategy. Product team leads the company to deliver competitive products that are in line with market needs and help the company reach business goals.

The following points characterize a good product team.

  1. The product team has a clear understanding of customers’ challenges and goals. As a team they share a strong purpose and vision and work tirelessly to solve the problem they are facing. 
  2. The product team lists assumptions for each product or list feature idea and convert these to testable theories. They spend A LOT of time on researching and testing. 
  3. The product team builds their roadmaps around hurdles that they would like to solve for the customers. 
  4. The product team involves the whole team in resolving customer challenges. The entire team is employed in designing, prototyping and testing a solution. 
  5. After the product teams delivers a new feature, they measure the success of it based on the insights of the initial customer discovery. 
  6. Customer feedback and insights enable the team to learn tirelessly and they try out new approaches for solving their customers’ problems. 
  7. They have an overall idea of the existing solutions that customers have. They assume what customers struggle with, and what the potentials for improvements could be. 
  8. The product team is conscious that what is accomplished today might not be the best solution tomorrow. They continuously seek feedback from users, customers, and leads, and are conscious of where the market is moving. They update the customer pain points, personas, customer goals, and product expectations. 
  9. The product team doesn’t work in isolation. They collude closely with sales, marketing, and support teams. They impart a lean approach for learning and responding to customer behavior all across an organization. 
  10. The product team will understand the latest technology first and will adopt it only after experimenting with it and ensuring to achieve the solution that fits users' actual usage and expectations. They will contribute to building conceptual MVPs and testing product ideas, rather than wasting valuable time on perfecting technology before placing it in front of users. 

What Are Integrated Product Teams? 

INTEGRATED PRODUCT TEAMS

An integrated product team (IPT) is a multidisciplinary combination of people who are collectively accountable for delivering a designated product or process. 

The emphasis of the IPT is on the relationship of all stakeholders in a collaborative forum. IPTs were introduced to the U.S. in 1995 as part of the major acquisition reforms to the way goods and services were acquired. 

IPTs are used in complex development programs/projects for inspection and decision making. The emphasis of the IPT is on the involvement of all stakeholders in a collaborative forum. 

There are three types of IPTs that every procurement program will implement: 

  1. Overarching IPTs: Concentrate on imperative guidance, program evaluation, and issue resolution 
  2. Working-level IPTs: Recognize and resolve program issues, discover program situation, and examine opportunities for procurement reform 
  3. Program-level IPTs: Focus on program accomplishment and may include representatives from both government and industry after contract award. 

Integrated Product and Process Development is the management method that simultaneously integrates all necessary procurement activities through the use of IPT to optimize design, manufacturing, and supportability methods. 

IPTs that every procurement program

The remarkable success of the integrated product and process development (IPPD) at companies such as Boeing, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard has prompted many manufacturers to focus renewed importance on this critical aspect of concurrent engineering. 

Below are the principles of integrated product development 

  1. Good consumer relationships, frequent interactions, and feedback practices lead to more solid understanding of customer’s/user’s needs. Customer association enhances the possibility of the product meeting the needs and being successful in the market. 
  2. Integrate product development, R&D with the business strategy and business plans. Defines the influence on time-to-market, product development and competitive advantage. 
  3. Quick implementation of Marketing/ program management, manufacturing, material, test, quality, and product support employees in product improvements reduces design renewals, repetition, and production obstacles. Authorized, self-directed teams have more refined control and are dedicated to development goals.  
  4.  The manufacturing and product support methods should be integrated with the design of products in order to optimize the performance and have a seamless product life cycle process implemented.  
  5.  Development team members should be associated with the plans and proposals for new products or programs to obtain their input and engagement. Manage non-recurring development expenses by effective planning; incremental, low-risk development; and by maintaining project scope.  
  6.  Utilize the expertise of the specialists/ experts during product development and optimize product designs. Control schedule balance and welcome improvements/ suggestions by suppliers/experts to generate more reliable products at lower costs.  
  7.  Quality Design, engineering, architecture, and reliable procedures give an efficient way to recognize the role and interaction of products. Implement lessons learned to avoid repeating past mistakes and conduct surveys to ensure all design problems and risks have been properly addressed.  
  8.  Integration of CAM mechanisms helps to have design/definition with fewer errors, higher accuracy, and a drop-in lead time to production. Software re-usability with object-oriented design brings a high level of productivity to the software.   
  9.  Modeling, interpretation, and simulation tools help to develop and refine both product and process design inexpensively. They also help to develop the design and decrease the number of time-consuming iterations for mock-ups and developmental prototypes.  
  10.  Re-engineering the product design process, decreasing the activities which don't provide value, continuous integration of technical tools, design activities, and recommended methodologies will improve the process design. 

When Are Integrated Product Teams Crucial? 

IPTs organize development group to enable Concurrent Engineering, Integrated Product Development, or Lean Product Development. They are used for the purpose of developing and delivering a product or service to their customer(s). While collaboration and transparency across developments are important for the success of every project, it’s certainly dangerous for complex projects with a significant downstream impact. A quick research of IPTs will reveal that they are crucial as they are associated with defense projects. 

How to Form an Integrated Product Team 

Creating an IPT takes more than the individuals involved - it requires a well-thought-out framework.

Use the following framework to start organizing your integrated product team:

Plan Development

Customer focus decides the needs of customers, products that meet needs, and current capabilities. Perform a gap analysis on these factors. The organization must cater to the product in IPD, not the other way around. Set up a team and determine required resources like hardware, software, space, and outside contractors. 

Communication and Training

Train the team when required. Appoint team leader who can manage individual team members on the IPD philosophy. Don’t scrimp on investment in training, and use it as an opportunity to cross-pollinate teams who earlier rarely interacted, like business strategy members and software developers.  

Improvement of Development Process

Successful product development begins with a tested, clear, and well-executed process. The plan should then follow a logical and disciplined sequence of development phases. Product Development helps to perfect the end-to-end process and this enables a development team to turn great ideas into highly successful products. 

Team Relationships and Responsibilities

Team relationships unite design and engineering teams to create a friendly work relationship that transposes to intuitive products. Designers and engineers collaborate to support each other’s phases. This helps teams to create innovative and intuitive products.  

Create Metrics

Define success and present metrics to different teams for significant comparison. Engineers handling timely delivery, responsiveness, etc are good common measures. 

Processes, Activities, and Decisions

IPTs must continuously develop. Divide the task to departmental leaders and team members for recording activity and decisions implemented.

Why Integrated Product Development Fails to Take Hold 

There are times when organizations fail to launch integrated product teams or they never do so, and there could be many reasons for this. Even with the most suitable management and employeesan integrated product team might be difficult, if not impossible, to be launched 

Here are some factors to be avoided:

Overestimation 

The ideas or concepts may not too hard to understand, but embedding them in the right position requires knowledge of project management and coordination at all levels affiliated with IPD. If the management observes the IPD concept and rearranges the organizational chart without embracing the spirit of the methodology, it will never gain a foothold. A skilled approach and team of consultants might be essential to improve, set up, and mentor everyone in the team.  

Prioritization

Setting up preferences is a talent expected from the experts working in the team and the results anticipated may not appear overnight. There may be too many cogs to get the engine active right away. If stakeholders notice a fad project management method and observe that results will not materialize easily, the integrated product team would fail. The required commitment of the team is the key to the success of any project.  

Culture of Organization

Every organization’s culture is not set to seamlessly work with IPD principles. A developer workroom may follow Scrum, and a product design agency may acknowledge multi-org coordination. If an organization is resistant to changes, it might not be able to manage IPD.   

Clarity of Roles

If there is no concrete direction as to who is accountable for what on a developer team, and who reports to whom, the project would be uncontrollable.  

No Follow Up

A vital part of the process is following-up and obtaining the progress reports from the team at regular intervals. If the management isn’t monitoring the process; the team might lose their motivation to work with full zeal.  

Meager Investment

A meager amount of money and no time to train the IPD practitioners results in negative improvement of the IPD team and they are bound to fail. A long-term investment would boost returns only when it is managed accurately. We attain proficiency not only in mitigating our errors at each iteration but also in enhancing working relationships among team members.  

Team Coordination

The team members must accept their responsibilities. IPD requires a higher-level of coordination on the part of employees. If team members neglect their roles, the project will collapse for e.g. interacting with vendors has been the purview of account managers, and planning out schedules was the precinct of project managers.

Disincentives

It is essential to analyze, review and realign policies and incentive structures properly, else team members would not cooperate with other team members and this may delay delivery.

Key Factors to Make Ipd Adoption Successful  

Below are the key factors which, when followed efficiently, would make IPD adoption successful. 

  1. All stakeholders and management should be aligned to a single objective. 
  2. The owner should marshal the resources required for the project, else it can negatively impact their project by not providing the needed leadership.  
  3. Adopting a scientific strategy and its implementation depends on building the plan, implementation of the plan, and constant review of the implemented plan. 
  4. Sharing the risk of scope and budget between parties helps in establishing the fine line required for the best project economization. 
  5. Implementation of modern methods and technology within the organization framework helps in achieving the end results at high standards. 
  6. Skilled manpower is another essential key factor and organizations should make investments in human capital. 
  7. The customer is the central focus point of IPD. Constant feedback from the customer is essential for IPD to be a success. 

IPD is a suitable design approach that, when successfully implemented, can address all the concerns of modern organizations in the globalized world. 

Project Management Tools and Integrated Product Development  

A product development roadmap template can help to sketch out the high-level concept of your product. However, there is a different way to enhance the process: using the right software tools.  

Below are the benefits accrued when using the right product management software: 

  1. Manage your resources more effectively 
  2. Set a more realistic product development schedule 
  3. Find the charts that work for you 
  4. Use real-time reports for deeper insights 
  5. Centralize communication and your product vision

Advantages of Integrated Product Development 

What makes IPD so beneficial? Following are the advantages they yield for new product development.  

Modernization and Technology

Project innovations in development and manufacturing are needed to beat competitors in the market. Long-play investments in R&D for your current project may pay off in the future because the IPD formed will be working efficiently. 

Depreciates Costs

IPD’s principle of continuous process improvement, MVP, and reducing redundancy and rework means that costs will decrease.  

Overwhelms Risk of Product Failure

Reinforcing regular communication will result in mitigating design flaws or manufacturing errors. By including stakeholders early on and at all stages of the conversation, issues that could arise in the future can be predicted earlier If the team is working together well and sharing notes, product failure is unlikely to happen. 

Quality and Innovation

Product failure is reduced when the strongest minds of each discipline come together and collaborate, rather than non-practitioners delivering direction or partially-committed vendors just phoning in a one-time job.  

Stakeholder Participation

IPD’s true advantage is that it encourages participation from all stakeholder organizations. Customer perspectives are brought from research, and intellectual consent from all stakeholders is the only way forward. 

Conclusion

Integrated product development theories are not exceptional and new in product development organizations and many of these methods have been used in the past. But as the size and complexity of companies increased, the industry lost many of these practices. The concepts of IPD are simple, but the implementation of these practices and the process of changing a company’s culture is challenging. Success can be achieved with a well-planned and managed effort. Management must understand not only the concepts of IPD but the process of managing change within the organization.  

The purpose of IPD is to decrease later stage design changes, decrease project risks, and keep costs low. A company can accomplish the benefits of full life cycle design alongside the efficiency of multi-disciplinary teams by efficiently executing integrated product development processes. 

Rajesh

Rajesh Bhagia

Blog Author

Rajesh Bhagia is experienced campaigner in Lamp technologies and has 10 years of experience in Project Management. He has worked in Multinational companies and has handled small to very complex projects single-handedly. He started his career as Junior Programmer and has evolved in different positions including Project Manager of Projects in E-commerce Portals. Currently, he is handling one of the largest project in E-commerce Domain in MNC company which deals in nearly 9.5 million SKU's.

In his role as Project Manager at MNC company, Rajesh fosters an environment of teamwork and ensures that strategy is clearly defined while overseeing performance and maintaining morale. His strong communication and client service skills enhance his process-driven management philosophy.

Rajesh is a certified Zend Professional and has developed a flair for implementing PMP Knowledge Areas in daily work schedules. He has well understood the importance of these process and considers that using the knowledge Areas efficiently and correctly can turn projects to success. He also writes articles/blogs on Technology and Management

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Scrum teams must have the courage to try new things, innovate, fail and then learn from their failures to ultimately achieve success.  Focus: Having focus is a mandatory requirement of Scrum teams which ultimately helps them limit the work in progress.  Openness: Transparency and openness is also one of the empirical processes on which Scrum is based. Teams that are open and transparent with one another trust each other more and work better towards reaching a successful end point.Respect: Respect between team members is a must, irrespective of the methodology or framework they use. Respect between Scrum Masters, Product Owners and Development team members will help foster trust and enhance collaboration and co-operation between teammates.What describes a Scrum team?A Scrum team consists of three main roles. These are:Development TeamScrum MasterScrum Product OwnerThe development team consists of five to eleven people including developers, testers, architects and others. The Scrum team has a shared goal and through their collaboration and skills of self-organization and motivation, they reach this goal.What is a Scrum Master?The Scrum Master, also known as the servant leader, helps empower the team and guides them on the use of the Scrum framework. Their main responsibility is to ensure that the development team can perform to the best of its abilities, and they do this by removing obstacles or impediments that may hinder the progress of the development team. The Scrum Master is the agile coach and mentor who helps team members understand Agile and its processes and aids in enterprise-wide agile transformations.The Product OwnerThe Product Owner is the bridge connecting the stakeholders and the development team. They define the product vision and through their skills and intelligence drive the project with help from the Scrum Master and the development team. The product owner maintains the perfect balance between the stakeholder and the development team, helping each understand the other’s point of view. They are also well-versed in agile and scrum values and principles and guide the team and well as the stakeholders on the agile ways of working. Creating stakeholder satisfaction is an important responsibility of the product owner and they do this by ensuring that requirements are met, and the product created meets quality standards expected by the customer.The Development TeamThe development team is the driving force of the Scrum project. This team is empowered by the Scrum Master and the Product Owner to take decisions and be as autonomous and independent as possible. At the same time there is a high level of collaboration and transparency among the team members and between the dev team and the Product Owner. The dev team is balanced and helps the product owner manage the backlog and deliver an acceptable product at the end of every sprint.Why is the Scrum team required for organizations?Any organization that wants to go agile and implement projects using the scrum framework has to do so by getting together an efficient scrum team. Scrum has proven to be extremely successful at team levels and it is the Scrum team that drives the project to success. Scrum teams with their collaboration, self-organization, innovation and collocation are able to drive success and business value.A table that summarizes the Scrum Team’s responsibilities in the various Scrum processesScrum PhaseScrum processScrum Master responsibilityProduct Owner responsibilityDevelopment team responsibilityInitiate1. Create Project Vision------2. Identify Scrum Master and Stakeholder(s)--Identifies Scrum Master--3. Form Scrum TeamAlong with the PO decides dev teamAlong with the SM decides dev team--4. Develop Epic(s)Helps PO in developing epicsDevelops epics and arranges user group meetingsHelps PO in developing epics5. Create Prioritized Product BacklogHelps PO in epic refinementRefines epicsHelps PO in epic refinement6. Conduct Release PlanningHelps PO and dev team with backlog prioritization and determining sprint lengthReviews the backlog and develops release planning scheduleHelps PO with backlog prioritization and determining sprint lengthPlan and Estimate7. Create User StoriesHelps dev team and PO write user storiesWrites user stories and incorporates them into the Prioritized Product BacklogWrites user stories8. Approve, Estimate, and Commit User StoriesEstimates the effort required to deliver the product defined in each user storyApproves user stories for the sprintAlong with the SM estimates the effort for each sprint and9. Create TasksHelps dev team break down the stories into tasksHelps dev team break down the stories into tasksBreaks down the approved stories into tasks and create a task list10. Estimate TasksHelps the dev team create the effort estimated task listHelps the dev team create the effort estimated task listCreates the effort estimated task list11. Create Sprint BacklogHelps the PO create sprint backlogCreates the sprint backlog and lists the tasks that need to be completed in the sprintHelps the PO create sprint backlogImplement12. Create DeliverablesGuides the dev teamHelps dev team if neededWorks on creating sprint deliverables13. Conduct Daily Stand-upArranges and conducts the meetingsMay or may not attend the meetingsAttends the meetings and defines any problems or issues faced14. Groom Prioritized Product Backlog Helps PO to groom the backlogUpdates and maintains the backlog continuouslyHelps PO to groom the backlogReview and Retrospect15. Convene Scrum of ScrumsHelps teams collaborate and notes any impediments that may be hindering work--Mentions their progress or any issues they may be facing16. Demonstrate and Validate Sprint Helps dev team in displaying what it has createdApproves or rejects what the dev team demonstratesDemonstrates deliverables to PO and stakeholders17. Retrospect SprintMeets with dev team to ponder on lessons learnt during the sprint. Documents the recommendations--With scrum master retrospect's on sprint and uses the recommendations for the next sprint18. Ship DeliverablesAlong with other team members ships acceptable deliverablesAlong with other team members ships acceptable deliverablesAlong with other team members ships acceptable deliverables19. Retrospect ProjectGets together with other team members and identifies the lessons learntGets together with other team members and identifies the lessons learntGets together with other team members and identifies the lessons learntSo, what best describes a Scrum team? There are many facets to a Scrum team, but the most relatable description would be a highly interconnected and cohesive unit that works together to solve issues. A well-organized Scrum team can raise the ROI of an organization and ensure long term stakeholder commitment.
What Best Describes a Scrum Team?

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Scrum Software for the Ultimate Project Management

Technology has made our lives easier. The number of tools and devices we have at our disposal has made our lives more productive and our work more efficient. The Agile software development methodology has been adopted by several organizations to improve their adaptability, responsiveness, and productivity.  How can we improve the way we incorporate Agile Scrum into our projects? Scrum tools can be the answer. Just like the other gadgets in our lives, Scrum software and tools help improve the productivity of our teams, keep stakeholders happy and help us deliver better products. Before we jump into the use and needs of Scrum software and tools let us understand more about Scrum roles and how they work.Three essential roles for Scrum successThe Scrum Guide defines three pillars of a Scrum team, which include:The Scrum MasterThe Product OwnerThe Development TeamThe Scrum team is a small unit which is self-organised and works towards achieving the same goal; that is, the development and deployment of the product and customer satisfaction.Three essential roles in a Scrum TeamThe Scrum Product OwnerThe Scrum Product Owner is among the most essential roles in the Scrum team and acts as a bridge between the stakeholders and the development team. More involved with the business side of the software development process, the PO represents the customer and can be considered as their proxy.  The Product Owner defines the product vision, and, along with the Scrum Master and the development team works towards delivering a product that matches stakeholder needs.The Scrum MasterThe Scrum Master is the servant leader whose main responsibility is to ensure that the Scrum team can perform to the best of its abilities. They do this by overseeing the day-to-day activities of the Scrum team and removing any impediments that may hinder the productivity of the development team. The Scrum Master facilitates stakeholder collaboration along with the product owner and ensures that teams can handle complex environments and deliver projects successfully.The Scrum development teamThe development team generally consists of three to nine people, according to the Scrum Guide. These would include developers, testers, designers and more. The team is allowed to take decisions and decide the length of the sprint and how they will go about it. The development team collaborates to create a high-quality product increment at the end of each sprint that is as per the expectations of the stakeholders.Scrum ceremonies or eventsScrum has five formal events as defined by the Scrum Guide. These events help to validate the Scrum artifacts and implementing them helps enhance transparency. The events are also called ceremonies and are:Sprint PlanningDaily ScrumSprint ReviewSprint RetrospectiveThe SprintWhat Does A Scrum Tool Do?What would you need a good Scrum tool to do? Make your life easier by making processes more efficient and less cumbersome, help you deliver quality products without making a huge dent on your budget, right?  With Scrum topping the popularity charts for Agile project management methodologies, the need for efficient Scrum tools has risen. There are plenty of Scrum tools available that fit the bill and provide interfaces that help teams seamlessly follow Scrum processes and reap its benefits. These tools help:Increase productivityIn task management, daily scrum management  Increase team collaborationIn progress tracking and risk managementScrum Software for the Ultimate ProjectThere are several Scrum software tools that aid in project development using Scrum; not just in technical environments, but in non-technical sectors as well. Software like JIRA, Infinity, TargetProcess, QuickScrum, Wrike etc provide:User friendly GUICompetitive pricingProduct backlog managementTime tracking and calendar tools for schedulingScrum metrics and chartsSprint planning toolsThird party tools for integrationUser story mappingBurnup and Burndown chartsand many more features that will help Agile teams serve their customers better, improve return on investment, reduce costs, enhance collaboration and ensure stakeholder satisfaction. These tools help team uphold the values of Agile and make implementing the Scrum framework easier.Best Scrum ToolsHere are some of the best Scrum tools available in the market:1. JIRAJira is a popular tool used by large organizations to manage their Scrum projects. It has numerous features including customizable scrum boards, reporting features and more. Here’s how teams benefit from this toolCustomizable Scrum and Kanban boardsRoadmaps to communicate with team and with stakeholdersAccess to tools for Agile reportingView of code and deployment statusEnd to end DevOps visibilityEasy scalabilitySecure deploymentDeveloper tool integrationRich APIs to automate processes2. TargetProcessThis tool has been especially designed for teams that want to scale agile. It offers a number of customizable features that make it easy to work with scrum and agile.  Here’s how teams benefit from this tool(Source: Targetprocess Agile Portfolio and Work Management Tool)IdeationBuilt in reports to analyse data and uncover trendsGather ideas across sourcesCloud hosting and on-premise hostingEnterprise grade securityCollaborate across the enterprise  Collaborate with DevOps tools including GitLab, Azure DevOps, GitHub etc3. VivifyScrumThis tool is marketed as an all-in-one solution to manage projects, collaborate and track. Here’s how teams benefit from this tool (Source: Agile Project Management Software - VivifyScrum)Tools to manage agile projects—organize, manage, track and deliverCollaboration boards to effectively collaborate with team and stakeholdersCreate invoices to track and manage business and clientsManage teams and track tasks4. InfinityThis tool is among the most popular in Agile and Scrum organizations due to the many customizations and features it provides. Its various tools help reduce time to market, ensure better quality, improve collaboration and enable customer satisfaction.Here’s how teams benefit from this tool Source: Infinity | Customizable Work Management Platform (startinfinity.com)How Can Scrum Apps Benefit Your Team?The number of Scrum apps and software available in the market for Scrum projects is mind boggling. Which one you choose depends on the requirements of your team and project, and each comes with its own benefits. Some of these benefits include:They help teams, organizations and the product being createdThey ensure better quality by providing the right framework, support mechanism and the right processesAllow for continual improvement by putting in place a feedback loop and sprint reviews by stakeholdersHelp solve impediments and daily issues by incorporating daily testing and product owner feedback into the development processEnsure upfront documentation and help prioritise high value items in the product backlog, thus decreasing time to market.  Quick feedback also helps improve the product and thus helps in continuous improvement.The faster marketing of products increases return on investment, helps tap the market demand and ensures long term benefits for the customer and thus earns their trust for the organizationThe primary tenet of Agile is team collaboration. Scrum software tools help in high level collaboration between the Scrum Master, Product Owner and the development team. Teams can organise, review, plan and discuss everyday tasks, meetings, impediments and more.How to Pick the Best Tool for Your Team?With so many options available, choosing the right Scrum tool for your team can be a tricky task. What you need to do is go through the features of the best tools and see which one best fits your requirements. While the number of features you get will be directly proportional to the money you are ready to pay for the tool, there are some basic requirements your tool must satisfy.Backlog creation:  The very basic format of a Scrum project lies in the creation of a product backlog which sets the pace for the entire project. The backlog is primarily created by the Product Owner with assistance from the Scrum Master and the development team. The tool you choose should help you create the product backlog so that you can prioritise items, define the sprints and identify sprint goals.Implement feedback:  Scrum projects are based on the Agile values of continuous feedback. Your scrum tool should have features which will make your customer’s feedback and requirements easily accessible to you. This will help you implement these changes at the earliest. This continuous feedback loop will help keep customers happy.Sprint creation:  Scrum is iterative and adaptive and works by breaking down projects into small sized sprints. Your tool must aid you in the creation of sprints and burndown charts. These help you keep track of your progress on the project and are essential components of a Scrum project.The other things your tool should be able to do include:Plan and trackCustomise process templatesCustomise dashboards and reportsHelp in time managementHelp create epics and storiesProvide collab and reporting toolsProvide review toolsAnd just like you will create a product that is user friendly, the tool you use also needs to be user friendly for the team. If your team is happy using it, and it makes your life easier and your projects better, then you have the right tool!
Scrum Software for the Ultimate Project Management

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Safe Agile Ceremonies - Expert Guide

“Winners take time to relish their work, knowing that scaling the mountain is what makes the view from the top so exhilarating.” ― Denis WaitleyWhat are SAFe agile events (or) ceremonies? – a brief overview:Before we jump into the topic, could I just take you a step back and remind you what SAFe is all about? SAFe is a way of taking any iterative Agile way of working (normally restricted to a team or few teams) and scaling it up at various levels of the organization, whilst applying a mindset of Lean manufacturing. It also deals with scalability at various levels. Beginning from Essential SAFe right up to Full SAFe, the framework caters to all organizational levels of scaling agility. As part of this, it broadens the core idea of agility mindset beyond just projects/development teams right up to executives/CXOs, who must prepare for enterprise level uncertainties. In a sense, it provides valuable enterprise level scaling insights helpful for the executives to tackle any uncertainties/risks associated with a project.As you start applying SAFe in your organisation, it is important for you to understand how each level works in conjunction with the other, depending on how mature your SAFe enterprise is. The key link between these levels is the SAFe specific events which help with smooth value delivery facilitation. The events help with alignment across teams, ARTs etc thus helping in managing risk by providing a level based cadence and synchronization.Essential SAFe - Your First Level of Scaling Using an Agile Release Train (ART). Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Source: Scaled AgileWhy do we need level-based ceremonies?While it is important to go through your team level events (like the 4 sprint events if you are doing scrum etc.) it is important to have the scaling events that help with bridging gaps and unblocking dependency between teams. The most important part of these SAFe specific events is for ‘Business Stakeholders’ to get a look (demo) at a proper incremental product and thus the value arising out of it. Makes sense? It did for me and let me tell you why.I was once associated with 3 feature teams, who were working towards a common product goal. They all had the same business stakeholders but were working on individual features. Team A was working on developing a Login page, Team B was working on a landing dashboard while Team C was hopping along, trying to provide a search functionality for the user. All of them were applying the Scrum framework and were running their own events. Sprint demos were happening individually and were being represented by the Product owner separately along with his business analysts. All seemed fine but there was a nagging problem. The product owner was worried, because he couldn’t bring any business stakeholder to view the demos, as they were being run in silos and there was no visibility on the incremental product. Well technically there was, but they would have to sit through three or four-hour events individually to get bits and pieces of the product demo. In the real world, it's not a possibility simply because your business stakeholders will not have that much time to spend on multiple demos. It is not a good use of their time either. So, what’s the solution? Simple, it’s SAFe to the rescue! Let’s try and understand how the SAFe specific events help with this.Prescribed PI Cadence for Various Levels of Scaling. Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Source: Scaled AgileHow do the events (or) ceremonies help to scale up according to the levels in SAFe:SAFe is very relevant and designed to thrive in situations where there are significant cross functional dependencies between agile teams and support / functional teams (infrastructure teams, architect community etc).  Essential Level:   As you start to scale up one level up, you will be working with anywhere between 5-12 agile teams who will all be collectively working towards a common goal which is the program increment or PI. The anchoring catalyst that brings them all together is your ART (Agile release train). Before getting into the events, lets understand the various roles involved at this level because this is the common denominator across all levels of SAFe and across organizations. This is where you need to get it right without which there is not much use in scaling higher. Key Roles involved: Release Train Engineer (RTE) System Architect/Engineer Product Management   Business OwnersPrescribed events on a typical Agile release train (ART). Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Source: Scaled AgilePI PlanningAccording to me, PI planning (hands down) is THE most significant aspect of executing this framework. This is where all the magic happens. It is sometimes referred to as the heart of the framework as it offers a clear vision of what the program increment needs to be, what the cross-team dependencies are and how they bring together the cultural sustainability much needed within the release trains. It is so important, that if carried out incorrectly it could lead to several ambiguities, development challenges and mostly a disastrous product increment. However, when it works well, the iterative cycle serves to flesh out the crucial elements of the plan and the processes ensure buy in from the stakeholders.Duration: A normal PI planning is a 2-day activity, which is a face to face cultural get together of the various ART teams. However, a new 3-day distributed PI planning has been introduced to help with geographically distributed teams (across various time zones), very apt for the current pandemic situation.“There is no magic in SAFe® except maybe for PI Planning”. – The authors of the SAFe framework.In big organizations with multiple distributed teams across multiple vendors, work streams etc. it is almost impossible to run these teams independently, whilst still having to deliver an incremental program. SAFe via the PI planning exercise mentioned above, helps with sorting out these issues by recognising cross team dependencies upfront, constantly negotiating & visualising them. This doesn’t just stop with the PI planning but the framework also proposes a cadenced way of continuing this via the scrum of scrums. The Program Board is an ideal way to showcase the cross-team dependencies.A sample SAFe Program board. Courtesy © Scaled Agile, Inc. Source: Scaled Agile1. Inspect and Adapt (I&A)An inspect and adapt event is scheduled after every PI. This event is dedicated to aligning to the principles of Kaizen, which simply means to change for the better. The events contain self induced thought processes to revalidate your assumptions that everything is working OK. The I&A event consists of three sub-parts as below:  PI System DemoQuantitative and qualitative measurementRetrospective and problem-solving workshop2. ART Sync Agile release trains tend to apply a cadenced synchronization process to help manage the ability to focus on continuous value delivery. An ART sync will typically comprise of the below sub-events.  Scrum of Scrums: This event is for representatives from all the teams on a release train to come together in a regular cadenced manner, especially on large ARTs. This is normally facilitated by the release train engineer (RTE) and will involve scrum masters of the individual teams and a few selected team members (authorised by the team). The sole purpose of the SoS calls are to understand progress towards the common goal, validate cross team dependencies and unblock impediments that may arise out of them. Duration: The length and frequency of the meeting will depend on a few factors like the size of the ART, the release frequency, type of features being worked on, ability to decouple releases etc. For e.g an ART which releases features into production every 4 weeks might want to have an SoS call every 2 weeks for about an hour. Again, if this doesn’t work for you, just inspect and adapt to what works well for your organizational needs. Just make sure that the SoS is utilised for its sole purpose and not just status updates as depicted in the below comic representation.Scrum of Scrums PO SyncThis event is represented by the Product Owner, business analysts and the product management group. This is used mainly to level up the product backlog refinement and for clarifying PI (Program Increment) scope, reviewing roadmaps and grooming for the upcoming PIs.Duration: Very similar in concept to the SoS, so just follow what works for the group. 3. System DemoAs part of a common understanding towards delivering incremental software, shortly after each iteration in the PI, there is a system demo scheduled. Work completed across all teams from the release train are compiled in a stable environment before it is reviewed by the business stakeholders and other important sponsors who may have a keen interest in the product. This is on top of the individual team level demos that happen after each iteration.Duration: Anywhere between 2-3 hours that will allow time for a demonstration of the program increment in a collative manner, on top of what has been delivered from the previous PIs as well.In case your ART is pretty small, then you may want to have just have some of the events combined into a more generic ART sync, where all roles come together to collaborate towards the program increment. This can sometimes occur if the ART is focusing on a particular value stream, confined to limited business functionality, rather than elaborate features.Solution/Portfolio LevelsAs you scale higher, the processes and events become much less prescriptive. There is a good reason for this because the focus at this level is not just on having repetitive demos that have already happened before but on building thought leadership around business outcomes and enhancing business agility. Which is why we will not be diving deep into that in this blog. But let us look at the events that occur at the macro level.Lean Budget Review  Idea Sharing via Communities of Practice (not a formal event but a collaborative group)Solution DemoPortfolio SyncRoadshowWhat are the benefits of SAFe Agile ceremonies?:The Magic of PI planningWell, the more I talk about this, the more excited I am. A PI planning event when carried out to its truest purpose, gets half the job done. Here is where most of the brainstorming occurs and business value gets determined and, in some cases, gets assigned in a quantifiable manner to user stories and helps with the prioritisation.PI Planning Synchronisation towards a common goalThe events are a constant reminder that all teams are working towards delivering incremental value either on a particular value stream, or feature or program. An RTE and Product Management will help reiterating the need to focus on the larger goal whilst helping sorting out inter team dependencies.Less prescriptiveAs is the framework itself, SAFe events/ceremonies are less prescriptive. An SPC would recommend, apply the principles but inspect and adapt as to what works for your organization. As per the example I provided earlier w.r.t to the duration of the SAFe events, start with something reasonable and then validate its effectiveness. Then leave Kaizen to do the rest.Visualization of incremental value deliveryOpportunity for Business stakeholders and sponsors to have a look at the overall program increment every iteration, thus helping them evaluate the progress and provide timely feedback on market trends. What are the common mistakes?Lack of a shared product visionThings can go wrong if there is not enough representation in the product management group, say for e.g at the PO Sync event. This can lead to a blurred product vision with each team working out of sync. This may ultimately get detected too late, probably at the time of the system demo, and lead to a whole lot of unwanted rework.SoS as a status updateThe Scrum Of Scrum event should be used as an event to unblock cross team impediments or dependencies and not to just update what each team has been doing or is doing in its current sprint. TimeboxingGiven the scale at which these events will be conducted, it is critical that the associated events are facilitated in a timeboxed manner or else the participants could end up sitting and talking for hours. Roles like RTE, SPC Coaches etc will be critical in addressing this issue.Remote facilitationLack of effective collaboration tools could lead to some disastrous situations whilst facilitating the SAFe events. Given that most teams are running virtual ceremonies/events at the moment, its crucial to establish a working distributed model. This will then ensure that the platform is set up for the most effective collaboration and cross-functional work to take place.While you try to scale, as per the implementation roadmap, its essential that you solidify the process around which your ARTs will be functioning. It’s like setting the railway tracks with the correct track gauge matching the configurations of the wheelsets of the trains that will run on them. If not, they will just derail. As your ARTs pass through your set process, they will only benefit by sustaining focus and pace while moving towards a successful incremental product delivery.Thanks for your patience and wish you all the very best in your Agile journey. In case you want me to write about any specific topic, please feel free to comment below and I’ll be more than happy to add them to my ‘Blog Backlog’. If you liked the article, please do share it among your agile community to help spread the word.  Hope to see you soon, with more such interesting topics.
Safe Agile Ceremonies - Expert Guide

“Winners take time to relish their work, knowing... Read More