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The Impact Of The Scrum Master’s Personality On Team Success

The personality of a person is a combination of characteristics of a person including behaviors, habits, thoughts, emotions, feelings perceptions, etc. which helps identify him or her distinctively. These characteristics spring up, develop and evolve from factors within the person as well as factors from the environment or context in which the individual operates. Personality comes from within a person and it will determine how the person thinks, feels and behaves. Personality normally remains similar throughout the lifetime of the individual but can be trained to make certain changes in personality.The Scrum Master plays an important role directly impacting the success of an Agile Scrum project. The Agile Alliance defines a Scrum Master as ‘the team role responsible for ensuring that the Scrum team lives Agile values and principles and follows the processes and practices that the team agreed to use in the project’. The scrum master is the owner of the scrum process where he or she is responsible for defining the process to be adopted by the team. He is expected to protect the team from internal and external influences and dependencies and be able to facilitate negotiation sessions in situations of conflict. The scrum master is not a manager but a ‘servant leader’ of the team working with the team to achieve the goals and objectives of the project. The scrum master is also responsible for facilitating the scrum ceremonies driving the project forward by overcoming impediments encountered on a day-to-day basis.Personality of the Scrum MasterThe scrum master’s personality plays a pivotal role when achieving the responsibilities listed above. The following is an attempt to discuss the impact of scrum master’s personality on team success based on the ‘Big 5 personality traits’. These personality traits are as listed below.Watch the video from the link below to learn more about the 5 personality traits.Having a scrum master who is outgoing and energetic or in other words, an extrovert will be beneficial for the project as opposed to having a reserved, socially aloof scrum master. The scrum master is expected to build positive relationships with both internal and external stakeholders and be able to create a positive vibe when the going gets tough. A scrum master who is an extrovert would walk the extra mile with the team for the betterment of the team by collaborating and communicating with stakeholders.The scrum master must be friendly and compassionate as opposed to being detached from his or her team members. In other words, it is good for a scrum master to have the personality trait of agreeableness. The scrum master must be able to listen to stakeholders with empathy, understand the real context, and be trustworthy and helpful without getting into arguments or preconceptions. This personality trait of a scrum master would also ensure that team members are well protected from external threats and will ensure the interests of team members and other project stakeholders are met.Agile teams are expected to be innovative and think out of the box. It is beneficial for a team to have a scrum master who is curious and open to an experience. Scrum teams learn from mistakes and are often open to try out new things. A good scrum master would be able to facilitate this process by encouraging the team members to try out new things both in the project as well as in the solution being developed.Scrum teams are expected to be self-organised and efficient. A scrum master with these characteristics will be organised in executing the scrum process applicable to the project in an efficient manner. A conscientious scrum master will ensure that scrum meetings are well organised, properly facilitated, outcome-oriented and purposeful. Meeting invites, agendas will be clearly defined with each stakeholder kept true to the agenda. An organised scrum master will also make sure that enough documentation is done in an organised manner may it be with regards to requirements, project management, design, quality assurance etc.Scrum masters must be emotionally stable and capable of controlling sudden anger or stress. A good scrum master must be able to conceptualize and think logically while considering the bigger picture rather than being overwhelmed by emotions. In a team environment, the scrum master will need to deal with people with different personalities that can have a positive or negative impact on the project. A secure and confident scrum master will be confident about his/her own capabilities as well as the capabilities of the team members and be able to motivate the team members to overcome any situation.Finally…Personality plays an important role in a team environment. The personality of the scrum master or the leader of the team is essential to make sure of the resources and to mold the team into a victorious team. What type of a scrum master are you? Do you have the aforementioned personalities within you?
The Impact Of The Scrum Master’s Personality On Team Success
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The Impact Of The Scrum Master’s Personality On Team Success

The personality of a person is a combination of characteristics of a person including behaviors, habits, thoughts, emotions, feelings perceptions, etc. which helps identify him or her distinctively. These characteristics spring up, develop and evolve from factors within the person as well as factors from the environment or context in which the individual operates. Personality comes from within a person and it will determine how the person thinks, feels and behaves. Personality normally remains similar throughout the lifetime of the individual but can be trained to make certain changes in personality.The Scrum Master plays an important role directly impacting the success of an Agile Scrum project. The Agile Alliance defines a Scrum Master as ‘the team role responsible for ensuring that the Scrum team lives Agile values and principles and follows the processes and practices that the team agreed to use in the project’. The scrum master is the owner of the scrum process where he or she is responsible for defining the process to be adopted by the team. He is expected to protect the team from internal and external influences and dependencies and be able to facilitate negotiation sessions in situations of conflict. The scrum master is not a manager but a ‘servant leader’ of the team working with the team to achieve the goals and objectives of the project. The scrum master is also responsible for facilitating the scrum ceremonies driving the project forward by overcoming impediments encountered on a day-to-day basis.Personality of the Scrum MasterThe scrum master’s personality plays a pivotal role when achieving the responsibilities listed above. The following is an attempt to discuss the impact of scrum master’s personality on team success based on the ‘Big 5 personality traits’. These personality traits are as listed below.Watch the video from the link below to learn more about the 5 personality traits.Having a scrum master who is outgoing and energetic or in other words, an extrovert will be beneficial for the project as opposed to having a reserved, socially aloof scrum master. The scrum master is expected to build positive relationships with both internal and external stakeholders and be able to create a positive vibe when the going gets tough. A scrum master who is an extrovert would walk the extra mile with the team for the betterment of the team by collaborating and communicating with stakeholders.The scrum master must be friendly and compassionate as opposed to being detached from his or her team members. In other words, it is good for a scrum master to have the personality trait of agreeableness. The scrum master must be able to listen to stakeholders with empathy, understand the real context, and be trustworthy and helpful without getting into arguments or preconceptions. This personality trait of a scrum master would also ensure that team members are well protected from external threats and will ensure the interests of team members and other project stakeholders are met.Agile teams are expected to be innovative and think out of the box. It is beneficial for a team to have a scrum master who is curious and open to an experience. Scrum teams learn from mistakes and are often open to try out new things. A good scrum master would be able to facilitate this process by encouraging the team members to try out new things both in the project as well as in the solution being developed.Scrum teams are expected to be self-organised and efficient. A scrum master with these characteristics will be organised in executing the scrum process applicable to the project in an efficient manner. A conscientious scrum master will ensure that scrum meetings are well organised, properly facilitated, outcome-oriented and purposeful. Meeting invites, agendas will be clearly defined with each stakeholder kept true to the agenda. An organised scrum master will also make sure that enough documentation is done in an organised manner may it be with regards to requirements, project management, design, quality assurance etc.Scrum masters must be emotionally stable and capable of controlling sudden anger or stress. A good scrum master must be able to conceptualize and think logically while considering the bigger picture rather than being overwhelmed by emotions. In a team environment, the scrum master will need to deal with people with different personalities that can have a positive or negative impact on the project. A secure and confident scrum master will be confident about his/her own capabilities as well as the capabilities of the team members and be able to motivate the team members to overcome any situation.Finally…Personality plays an important role in a team environment. The personality of the scrum master or the leader of the team is essential to make sure of the resources and to mold the team into a victorious team. What type of a scrum master are you? Do you have the aforementioned personalities within you?
The Impact Of The Scrum Master’s Personality On Team Success
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Why Agile Is Not The Answer To All Your Business Problems

The Agile framework is very famous nowadays. It is implemented in big companies that have an IT or technical department. The digital transformation is impacting the way we work. We moved from a slow product industry to a fast service industry. It is easy to think that one framework, one methodology, one way of working will bring us to the next level of business. The business world is made of different layers of consciousness which means that not everyone is at the same level of development. Everyone is surfing on a different wave. We cannot predict what will work tomorrow. We can just try. It is important to consider the reasons why companies should use a new methodology before implementing it.Many companies jump onto the Agile train because they need any kind of solutions to their organizational problems. Then they become aware that their management methodology is not adaptable to the ever-changing business world. Their bureaucracies, processes, employee management and leadership are failing at creating the services and products at a space that allowed them to grow. They bitterly realize that Agile is not doing it for them.  Are they really using the right methodology or are they avoiding acknowledging the deeper Systematic issues? Furthermore, do companies need to grow forever?New frameworks like Agile can be useful if companies avoid the following traps:  No clear goalWhenever I ask what are the goals of the company for (choosing to use) using the Agile framework, I am always surprised to hear this answer: We want to be faster, leaner, agile... This is not a goal, this is a result. What is your goal? Is it to create the next generation of X or to allow employees to freely grow and develop themselves while creating products that your clients love?Defining goals is difficult because it comes back to the questions “Why are we here?” “What is our vision for the future”. The following article gives hint on “How to come up with a vision for my company?”Big corporations often fail at answering this question because they are enormous. They are like Medusa, with her many snakes that have no common vision.It is not the right framework for the company’s specific situationSome companies decided to use the Agile framework because of a promise that cannot be fulfilled (faster, better, agile, stronger). In some situations, it is like using an antidote against fever when it’s your arm that is broken. The issue here, more often than not, is a wrong diagnosis or a charlatan selling you his or her product. The main reason for a false diagnosis is the desire to gain time. Why analyze the situation when we know what the problem is? First, you don’t really know until the situation is seen in all its aspects (holistic). Real Organizational Development work by analyzing the situation from different point of views (leaders, employees, organizations). Second, even if you know the symptoms you may still get the wrong medication. The risk of getting the wrong medication is higher if the person selling you a cure believes that his medication is a cure-all. It is better to get the opinion of various independent specialists and not rely on just one who tells you that it will be easily solved. If you, having the expertise in the field, were not able to solve the problem it means that the issue exists in different level within the company. It is similar to a fabric, where each fiber is interlaced with others and have an impact on the quality of the fabric. You pull one, all the others will be impacted. You cannot solve your issue if you do not clarify what you want and understand the situation holistically.The company’s core beliefs are not aligned with the new frameworkSo far, your company has been growing in a framework rooted in beliefs, values, and habits. This framework may not be adapted to evolve in the digital world. You want to use a new methodology to attain a new level of growth. This means changing beliefs, values, and habits. It requires inquiring the existence of the company’s roots and trying to understand how the beliefs, values, and habits have evolved in order to access the next level of success. Imposing a new methodology will not change the roots of your company. It will only add a cosmetic surplus that will continue to cover the roots of the company for a short period. It is only by growing new roots that the company can blossom in the new methodology.Furthermore, the new methodology may be adaptable to only a small department of your company and a variation of it can be used for others.Any new methodology may seem attractive because they open the door to more productivity but they cannot be implemented without reflection. We  need to pause and reflect. What is it that we really need? Will the Agile framework help us achieve our goals? The Agile framework is not a solution for every situation, it is made of core beliefs, values and habits that may or may not fit your company. Either everyone accepts it and change or refuse and reject it.What do you think about the implementation of new frameworks such as Agile in the workplace? What is your opinion on this subject?
Why Agile Is Not The Answer To All Your Business Problems
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Is The Schedule Driving The Project or Vice Versa?

Are you familiar with a situation where a project manager diligently drafts a project schedule and uses it to drive the project for 2-3 weeks and then the schedule goes into cold storage? Either the schedule disappears or gets driven by the project getting executed independent of the schedule.Most people that I interact with tell me that this is a very common scenario. Why does this happen? How can it be avoided and how can we draft an effective schedule that can actually be used to drive the project till its completion? What are the characteristics of such an effective schedule? Why should a project manager take pains to draw up such an effective schedule and what are the benefits? We have done some research in this area by studying a number of real project schedules and would like to present the findings in this article.Why are effective schedules important?One of the major challenges faced by the software industry is delivering fixed price projects profitably. And poor scheduling is one of the top three areas of challenge, the other two being poor estimates and poor requirements management. While leading a delivery excellence program, I happened to interview several roles and one business unit head revealed that he had won a million dollar deal recently and assigned the best PM of the BU to the project. And when that PM came up with a draft schedule, it had a built-in overrun of 5%. Projects typically follow Murphy’s law “work expands to fill duration” and people tend to consume all of the allocated duration, even if it is in excess, and on top of the built-in 5% overrun, if there is an additional 20% overrun, then the project would move into a loss zone. Incidentally, the BU head was a pro in scheduling, he sat with the PM, optimized resource allocation and then the schedule came down to utilize only 85% of the originally estimated effort. Mind you, this schedule did not reduce the effort or duration of individual tasks but just carried out resource optimization and boom, the effort reduces by 20%!! This incident highlights that well-drafted schedules can play a major role in profitability of fixed price projects. And the ROI can also be huge as spending ½ a day in scrutinizing the schedule lead to a saving of almost two hundred thousand dollars in this case.What makes schedules unusable?Why do schedules go into cold storage in spite of their critical advantages? Because, these schedules are not usable. What makes schedules unusable? Having researched into dozens of schedules, we have found several common factors that make schedules unusable and the top three reasons are explained below.The task breakdown does not match with the actual tasks that will be performed to realize the end deliverables: Many PMs would be out of touch with software engineering and cannot figure out what activities will be performed and what artifacts will be produced in each phase of the project at a granular level. They may be familiar at a coarse level so that analysis, design, coding, and testing will be performed but they may not be able to determine exactly what tasks constitute analysis and design and what artifacts will be produced from these tasks. For instance, they may not be able to identify all the activities and artifacts such as “Design object model”, “Normalize database”, “Create interaction diagrams” that results respectively in object model, database model and interaction diagrams all of them becoming a part of the design document. As a result, PM may not be able to document all the tasks in the schedule and the team will be performing many tasks, not accounted for in the schedule. This gap quickly causes misalignment between schedule and actual work. Consequently, the team stops referring to the schedule for guidance on what to do and the schedule becomes unusable.Estimated duration in the schedule does not match original effort estimates: Many PMs allocate duration to tasks independently instead of deriving them from the original effort estimates. They may not follow any formal method while estimating durations and this makes dates in the schedule mismatch with the actual dates significantly. Although, even the well-drafted, usable schedules can also have mismatch between planned and actual dates, a large-scale mismatch may discourage the team members to use the schedule as a guidance to determine their weekly plan.Resource loading is not optimal: The resources are either under-loaded or overloaded. When the resources are under-loaded, the Murphy’s law “Work expands to fill duration” may kick in and the under-loaded resources may use up all of the available duration (allocated duration and free time) to perform the allocated work resulting in effort and schedule overruns. The overloaded resources obviously cannot perform work according to the schedule and they start performing work independent of the schedule.What makes schedules usable?Having seen the characteristics of unusable schedules, we have also seen the characteristics of usable schedules. It is not necessary that usable schedules are lax schedules. Very tight schedules can also be well-drafted and usable schedules. Our research into schedules that have been successfully used to drive and track projects from inception till end shows that they generally possess a large number of following characteristics.1. Work breakdown is immaculateThe structure of the work breakdown is completely aligned with the software engineering life cycle chosen for the projectThe WBS covers at least 90% of all activities that will be performed in the project. The amount of time that people spend doing work not accounted for in the schedule, is negligible.Milestones are identified appropriatelyGranularity of task breakdown is optimal. A coarse-grained task breakdown results in a very lax tracking leading to delays whereas a very fine-grained task breakdown results in micro management and tracking overheads and can delay the project. The well-drafted schedules usually use the 1% to 10% rule – that is, the effort allocated to a leaf node of a breakdown structure should not be more than 10% of the effort aggregated at the root node and should not be less than 1% of the effort at the root node. If the effort of a leaf node is more than 10%, it is broken down into sub tasks and if the effort of a leaf node is less than 1%, it is folded up into its parent task so that the 1% to 10% rule is satisfied.2. Duration estimates of the schedule are aligned with the project estimatesDuration estimates of tasks and sub tasks are derived from the project estimatesThe overall project effort reflected in the schedule matches with the estimated effort. This is a key to the profitability of fixed price projects.3. Resource loading is optimalResources are neither under loaded nor overloadedTeam members perform very minimum ad hoc activities because large part of their work is covered in the schedule. It is this factor that enables the team members to use the schedule for guidance, week-on-week, to plan their weekly activities.Parallelism among tasks are identified and leveraged properly while allocating the resources4. The schedule is an elegant tool for work allocation, tracking and reportingThe schedule enables allocation of work to team members on a weekly basis with a clear scope, activities, and deliverables. Many times, weekly task reports are maintained as a supplement to the schedule. The weekly plans draw tasks from the schedule and also ad hoc tasks if any. Sometimes, the sequence of tasks may have changed and hence rather than changing the schedule, the change is implemented using a supplementary weekly plan. In projects having a well-drafted schedule, the weekly plans for the individual team members don’t diverge significantly from the schedule and remain aligned to the schedule throughout the project.A well-drafted schedule facilitates easy generation of status reports on task completion, work performance of team members and projections.The schedule clearly shows dependencies and delivery dates for integration of modules to take place smoothly.5. Facilitates quick response to changes. With clarity on tasks, duration, and resource allocation, the schedule helps the PM to add, delete or move around tasks and resources to accommodate changes.When project gets additional requirements and additional resources, a PM can assign the additional resources to non-critical path tasks and allocate current team members to tasks on critical pathWhen project gets additional requirement, there is no additional resource, but if PM is allowed to descope some functionality, the schedule comes in handy to decide which tasks among low priority ones can be removed to free up some resource load so that they can handle the changes.ConclusionWell-drafted schedules can provide the PM not only a significant grip but also enough maneuverability to navigate the project to successful completion amidst changes. It is not straightforward to draft schedules and it needs significant application of time and rigor to come up with schedules that are usable. If this rigor and time is invested, it can yield significant non-financial benefits in terms of better project control and financial benefits in terms of cost savings making it a high-priority area for PMs to spend their time and energies.
Is The Schedule Driving The Project or Vice Versa?
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Is The Schedule Driving The Project or Vice Versa?

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What Are The Most Valuable Kanban Certifications?

Certifications have become the hot topic of discussion for the past few years as they are often used to show the extent of knowledge or training that job applicants have. More and more employers are interested in attracting certified professionals to the organisation as they are expected to be more efficient and skilled workers. This is where the viability of Kanban certifications comes into the picture. This approach is centred on the use of visual cues where the visual cards represent a step or task in a process that is interconnected to the next step or task leading up to completion. This visual representation of the interconnected tasks aid the teams in understanding the required workflow, resolving any blocks along the way, and improving the service that is provided. Out of the available certifications, four stand out as being most prominently wanted by the employers, namely,Accredited Kanban Trainer (AKT) certificationTeam Kanban Practitioner (TKP) certificationKanban Management Professional (KMP) certificationKanban Coaching Professional (KCP) certificationSource: https://edu.leankanban.com/lku-roadmapAccredited Kanban Trainer (AKT) certificationThis is the certification that gets you ready for providing certified Kanban training classes using the appropriate training materials for the course. AKT certified professionals are the ones who have completed the training course with application review and case study requirements. These trainers are generally attached to specific Kanban training organizations and are commissioned to teach a certain number of students each year. AKTs also offer private Kanban classes to the clients.Many accredited AKT certified individuals also take up jobs in other capacities within the organization. The employers are interested to hire such individuals in the team as they might come in aid when the organizations decide to carry out a Kanban training for the other employees at a later date. The following are the principal reasons behind this highly valued certification.The ability to deeply understand and impart knowledge about the Kanban methods in practice.Adeptness at handling all the major types of Kanban systems and knowing the appropriateness of each system.A higher number of job avenues as the individual is qualified to work both as a trainer with an organization and as a project manager.In the highly competitive business environ, an AKT professional is hired to empower the teams to make them reach the finish life faster.Team Kanban Practitioner (TKP) certificationThis certification is needed when you want to get the team working under your control with an improved level of collaboration and efficiency. Generally, all experience levels are welcomed for getting TKP certified, and there are no requirements for prior experience or training. The best individuals to attend to this certification course are the managers and Team members who want to get started by understanding the key concepts of Kanban. There are four significant objectives to getting this training:Getting the workload organized enough to be handled with greater ease leading to faster completion.Improving visibility of the goals and the pathway of attainment of the aims and objectives.Facilitating better communication within the various levels of the team.Greater ability to manage the unforeseen and calculated risks leading to higher efficiency in management.A higher degree of collaboration within the team among both the new members and the existing participants leading to better ability at velocity estimation.Kanban Management Professional (KMP) certificationThe KMP certification is probably most known and popular among the Kanban certifications. A Kanban management professional understands how to take better decisions leading to streamlining of the workflows. The end results to aid the company in the form of improved service delivery for the company and benefit the clients in the form of greater customer satisfaction. KMPs have special training in the application of the Kanban Method for greater agility and better risk management. The value of the Kanban Management Professional (KMP) certification lies in the following pointers.The versatility factor of the KMP certification makes it easy for the project managers to move seamlessly across functions. For instance, movement of a content project from editing to the graphic designing aspect, or the transition of new software from integration to testing.The KMP certified professionals are also adept at meeting inventory with the demand factor by kick-starting processes into gear at the time when inventory is really low. The result is just-in-time delivery and greater levels of responsiveness.KMPs are instrumental in encouraging teams to limit the extent of work they have going at any point in time through a process known as limiting the work in progress. This factor encourages the teams to move towards the finishing point together by means of eliminating distractions leading to enhanced collaboration.Kanban Coaching Professional (KCP) certificationKanban Coaching Professional (KCP) certification is the highest position attained by a Kanban coach. This is the certification that evaluates the existing formal training, knowledge, and experience of the professionals who are involved in the coaching of the Kanban initiatives. KCPs are held as the most skilled professionals to lead the initiative of change towards the Kanban methods for an organization. The eligible candidates for KCP are Kanban practitioners, trainers, consultants, change agents, and managers. The key points of value to this highly in-demand certification include the following.The Kanban community recommends knowledge about the application of wide-ranging Kanban techniques.Access to the private forums of collaboration which are only reserved for the KCP professionals.Communication with the clients and coaches about advanced techniques and processes of the relevant Kanban methods.Apart from the other requirements, this is one of the basic eligibility if you wish to attend Enterprise Services Planning Training.Attaining a higher level of expertise in the Kanban methodology if you wish to continue as a Kanban trainer.Since Kanban is an alternative method to approach the Agile processes, the framework is highly efficient in catalyzing ongoing improvements and leading to higher effectiveness of the work. Kanban assimilates well with other approaches like Scrum and the traditional methods which is one of the major factors adding value to the Kanban certified professionals.
What Are The Most Valuable Kanban Certifications?
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What Are The Most Valuable Kanban Certifications?

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The Three Most Fundamental Project Management Tools & Techniques

Over the years I have found that my most popular blog posts are those that speak to entry-level project managers. They value information which is clear and concise and which helps them understand what tools and techniques to use. Project management is a vast practice area and for somebody who has only recently started managing projects, it can seem overwhelming. It is my observation that there are more entry-level project managers coming into the field. And there is a good reason for that. With more and more changes taking place at a faster rate, we have a need for more people to manage those changes. This can be anything from integrating new technology to streamlining business processes or producing cheaper and better consumer goods. With that being said, let’s look at the three most fundamental project management tools and techniques that will help entry-level project managers get their project off the ground.Project DefinitionProjects need to be defined and scoped before they are planned and executed. That is true for all projects irrespective of the type of methodology they use. Defining the project helps us understand what it is meant to deliver, what the benefits are, what the costs might be and by when it is needed. This may sound like a plan to you, but it’s more like a high-level description of the project without the details having been fleshed out. The main question we ask during project definition is whether the project is worthwhile doing or not. There may be lots of ideas for new projects but not all of them have a good business rationale. Therefore they shouldn't be executed at this moment in time with this particular scope. In the company where you work, I’m sure there are many things you could improve on and many ways in which you could enhance your products or services. But not all of these enhancements will be viable business ideas, perhaps because there is a small market for some of those products or too low a margin.When we define the project, we’re essentially looking at the project’s business case and ascertaining if it provides a strong enough foundation for the project to go ahead. Defining the project can take as little as a couple of days for a very small project and several months for a larger one. You can capture the conclusion of this phase in a Project Definition Document, Project Charter, Terms of Reference or Business Case. Different companies use different terms for this document, but they may essentially contain the same information. What I recommend you to put in the document is: Aims and objectives of the project, high-level deliverables, expected benefits, high-level constraints, assumptions and risks, expected costs, future revenues, expected end date, name of project sponsor, project manager, and core team members.Milestone plan  Once the project has been approved, meaning that the Project Definition Document has been signed off, you can move to the next part of the project, which is to plan it. The way you plan a project and lay out its phases, stages, and milestones will look a bit different depending on the methodology your company prefers. If you’re in a more traditional waterfall environment you’d be planning the project in a sequential way, beginning with requirements gathering and detailed statements of scope. You’d then plan for the build or execution phase to take place followed by some testing and final delivery or implantation. And of course, you’d plan for a project review to take place at the end. In more agile environments you’d carry out the above activities (requirements gathering, build, test, deliver, and review) in much shorter intervals or iterations. In addition, you’d deliver something tangible after each phase or iteration instead of all products or features being delivered at the end, which is what we do with a waterfall methodology.No matter how you plan your project, it’s a good practice to plan it collaboratively with the team. Those days are over where the project manager was sitting in isolation behind their desk doing all the planning. That approach simply doesn't create buy-in from the team members. They want to be involved in planning the work that they are expected to carry out.There are several collaborative planning techniques out there that you can make use of. I favour an old-fashioned post-it note-approach where you get people together and brainstorm what the phases, work streams and milestones of the project might look like. You’ll need lots of post-its and a white board or a wall to stick the notes onto. You also need a good facilitator (perhaps your good self) who can guide the team through the process. At the end, you should have a rough idea of which milestones and outputs will be delivered by when. You should also assign ownership to each milestone or deliverable as otherwise, the project manager may end up owning most of the items. Ask the owners to carry out the detailed planning of their individual items and revert at the next meeting with a confirmation of exactly what will be delivered by when. If your team is remote you can make use of virtual post-it-note planning tools.The outcome of your collaborative meetings and planning activities can be captured in a milestone plan. This would be a simple Excel sheet listing the project’s top ten milestones, the owner of each milestone and the expected delivery date. Very simple! As a project moves forward you can also use the spreadsheet to record whether each milestone is on track for delivery and comment on their status. In that way, this simple one-pager overview of milestones becomes a high-level plan and a tracking tool in one. This is an ideal overview sheet to use as a communication tool to your stakeholders so that they can ascertain the status of the project. Your stakeholders don’t need a detailed plan. An overview of the top ten milestones will be sufficient. The detailed plan is reserved for the core team.Risks listBe warned that no matter the size, complexity or methodology of your project, I can assure you that it will be full of risks. That’s because all projects are about creating change, meaning that the project will result in something that hasn’t been done before in that exact setting. In other words, every project is unique and therefore contains a certain element of risk. Project management methodology is essentially there to control risk and to help us execute a project with some level of predictability in spite of its uncertain elements. Defining a project, identifying and analysing user needs and requirements, planning how these requirements will result in outputs and deliveries, clarifying roles and responsibilities and prototyping the solution are all examples of activities we undertake in project management with the aim of driving down risk.Managing risks is a dynamic process as the project’s environment changes on a daily basis. Identifying and mitigating risks is, therefore, something which shouldn’t just be done when the project starts up. It’s an essential project management activity that should be carried out on a regular basis to make sure that new risks are identified and managed and that the existing ones are reviewed. In essence, I suggest that you sit down with your team every couple of weeks to go through the risk list. The collaborative element is important, as the project manager cannot identify all the risks on her own. The team has the knowledge, not only of the things that could go wrong but also in terms of generating ideas for how to overcome potential roadblocks.The outcome of the collaborative risk management meetings is risk list. This is a simple Excel tool, which lists and describes all the risks, the date they were logged, what the potential impact of the risk is and how it can be mitigated. The risk list should also contain information about the probability and likelihood of each risk (high, medium, low) as well as an owner. In many projects, there is a tendency that the project manager ends up owning most of the mitigation strategies. But in many cases, a team member or a stakeholder is the best person to manage a specific risk because they are closer to the detail.In summaryProject management tools and techniques can be difficult to navigate for an entry-level project manager. Three of the most important tools for a project manager to make use of on any project are: a Project Definition Document, a Milestone Plan and a Risk List. Whereas the project manager owns all of these tools, it’s not sufficient to simply fill them in on their own. Irrespective of whether we are running an Agile, Waterfall or a hybrid project, it will be the collective effort of the people involved who will get the project delivered. For that reason, the tools we use must be as collaborative as possible so that we can make the most of our precious team.
The Three Most Fundamental Project Management Tools & Techniques
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Why Most Of The IT Companies Look For Certified Professionals

In today’s increasingly competitive market, candidates, regardless of their experience and qualifications need a competitive edge over their peers. Professional certifications do just that for them. Rightly so, because hiring a candidate who does not have the right set of skills and knowledge affects him/her as well as the employer. This is not to say that certifications are the ultimate path to your career goals; you, of course, need to meet all the prerequisites mandated by your recruiters. Certifications are the best way to tell your employers that you belong to the category of niche professionals who can make a difference.  If you are already working in a team with people having varied skills, IT certifications are also one way to stand out. Not only will they help you enhance your skills and knowledge but will provide you the competitive advantage over your team members. Trending and up-to-date certifications will speak for your commitment and make you a valuable asset to your organization.  Speaking of certifications, Robert Blanchard, Director of Support Services, Aspen Skiing Services Co. said-  “The person with the certification is the one that is going to get hired.” Why is to so necessary to get certified? IT professionals are not new to being told that certifications are the gateway to countless career possibilities. But most of them have a tough time figuring out the smart and best means to make these certifications align with their goals. First and foremost, it is necessary to understand why it has become so crucial to integrate your career with certifications.  Generally speaking, IT professionals usually consider certifications as the surefire ways to-  Boost their earning potential  Seek more opportunities in the job market Shift their career to the next best level A latest article published by Forbes Magazine says that IT professionals with certifications are earning an average of $17,000 more per year than the median IT certification salary. From an employee perspective, certifications let you demonstrate additional qualifications on your resume in addition to getting hired faster.  Many of these certifications even come with digital badges, which according to your potential employers are the quickest means to verify the stated qualifications immediately. This is further supported by one recent statistics which says that in the UK’s office, for the last 3 years, 14% of 13,800 employees were not holding the qualifications which they claimed. To minimize the possibility of such incidents, more number of companies are preferring digital badges to verify certifications.  It is also worth mentioning that certifications are not just useful for the professionals seeking better opportunities, they are equally beneficial for the existing employees of a company who want to prove their skills to their employers. Why do your employers handpick certified professionals? The IT environment has matured, and so has the mindset of the employers. Today they just don’t look out for employees who are skilled and knowledgeable. They prefer a validation of your skill sets. More correctly, relevant certifications. This helps them ascertain the best fit who will help the organization keep pace with the fast-evolving industry.  In fact, more than on-the-job experience and quality of experience, recruiters of present times are on a lookout for certifications, especially the ones that are tailored to their ongoing project requirements.  In this section, we shall discuss various reasons as to why certified individuals are the prospective recruits in today’s market.  New employees Certification and credential holders are the first ones to get noticed when it comes to hiring new employees. Given the intrinsically valuable nature of such industry-tailored certifications, the employers can be assured of the expertise levels of those employees.  A few salient features of the top certification programs will explain why employers like them so much- Clearly defined program goals and standards Customized curriculum with progressive levels Expected skill sets and knowledge upon completion Proper assessment criteria  Hands-on projects (for certain programs) That fairly explains why certifications enhance the credibility of new employees.  Existing employees More often than not, companies have found critical skill gaps in their existing teams, that are mostly the barriers to progress. To address these gaps and uplift the team(s) as a whole, the employers recommend taking up professional certification programs.  Certifications can also be a saviour for the existing employees if any of the following situations arise- Departments are getting reorganized  New projects are being assigned to existing staffs Cross-functional teams are working together  Company is merging with other organizations, creating new responsibilities  In such cases, the top management often finds it difficult to hire new people with the required skills and let them upskill the teams. The prescribed approach, which is all the more realistic, is to have in-house experts who are already certified in the latest technologies.  Top certifications your employers are looking for   Before you decide to take up any certification, be sure of the value it holds in your career as well as the current market. An ideal example to cite would be that of ITIL®, which started picking up momentum post 2012. If statistics are to be believed, there are nearly 1.37 million ITIL® certifications out there. Way too many IT professionals have benefited from this certification. It has helped them understand the fundamental concepts of IT Service Management and service lifecycle to improve business decisions. Implementing the ITIL® best practices have been found to help these professionals streamline their processes for continuous improvement.  Two other top-rated certifications are Agile and Scrum, and PMP®. Agile and Scrum training and certification program is extremely useful for teams which have adopted the Scrum framework to simplify processes and work in a collaborative environment. The Agile methodology is provenly a major upgrade from the traditional waterfall method and transforming software development projects worldwide.  The Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, on the other hand, is deemed the most distinguished qualification for the project managers working with several teams. It facilitates on-time and on-budget project delivery, mitigating risk factors and saving costs. Will certifications secure your career? It is safe to say they will. But certifications alone cannot guarantee your future in the IT industry. Even your employers will not solely rely on certifications to gauge your calibre. Additional skillsets such as soft skills, technical skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are also the mandates to establish a firm foothold in the corporate world. It is also important to note that the certifications you opt for should be up-to-date and on par with the latest trends in the industry. Because in the end, your employers would handpick only the ones with relevant certifications and experience. After all, certified professionals are the catalysts for a major transformation in organizations. 
Why Most Of The IT Companies Look For Certified Professionals
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Why Most Of The IT Companies Look For Certified Pr...

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