Project Management Agile Training

Agile Training in Dublin – Starting the Agile Journey

Recently I have had the opportunity to present to students taking Project Management certificates and diploma courses with one of the University programs in Dublin. I was asked to do one day on agile out of the 10 or 12-day programme. These are all experienced employees spending considerable time and money on this course.

Each student has a copy of the thick brown PMP (Project Management Professional) manual which I now see has changed from white pages to grey – how apt. At the beginning of the class, I get the opportunity to ask them if they have enjoyed reading it. Was it interesting etc.?

It generally doesn’t take long for someone to say that it is impossible to read or does a project manager use this stuff? Scepticism of these methods kick-off my class nicely and it doesn’t take long for students to agree that’s it’s “a pile of …”.

Ok, I have to roll-back a little as they have spent thousands on this and I better not blow the other 90% of the course out the window yet. And I’m just making the point about the complexity of the approach suggested in the PMP.

Twelve Principles of Agile Software Development

After a short discussion on their agile knowledge, I head towards the agile manifesto and more importantly the Twelve Principles of Agile Software Development. Two areas cause particular concern.

  • Welcoming change even late in the day
  • Business people and users working together on a daily basis.

They were all concerned about changes going on forever and welcoming more changes then becoming a never-ending story. We had a good debate and on this topic, I was able to get them to agree that a dynamic business would welcome changes and a more conservative business might be better to resist them.  The question “which type of business would you rather work for ?” became redundant.

I had to take the idea of Business people distracting developers every day on the chin. I couldn’t win this one, but again we did agree that it was vital to have close co-operation especially in a dynamic environment.

The Stacey Matrix

Scrum Master Training Dublin Stacey’s matrix also causes a bit of stir. Interestingly one person was familiar with the “the challenge of complexity” and was keen to point out that Stacey has disowned his matrix as too many people miss-use it. Ouch – I figured that I could still hold my own on this but best to press on. In particular, it felt that good business analysis could be used get agreement on the requirements reducing some of the complicated work. Additionally, good risk management might tackle some of the technology uncertainty.

 

I didn’t come out of this unscathed, but the class got the point. Time for little light-hearted games at this stage. I used a “document the drawing” vs “describe the drawing” game and this went down well. We got near total agreement that old-fashioned BRD’s (Business requirements documents) are painful to write and often miss the mark.

 

Onto a winner now with personas and user stories. By now I’ve started to win them over, and it was time to introduce Kanban. After the session, they all agreed to implement a personal Kanban board for their exam practice. At this stage I figure I can do no wrong, we decide to break.

The afternoon we looked at Scrum and in particular the Scrum Principles. We hit on the role of the scrum master and servant leadership. We used games to outline “work in progress”, commitment and waste. The group started to explore how agile would fit into their working environment.

Some questions arose like

  • But what happens when we don’t have full-time teams
  • Most of our project are about the integration of suppliers and customers?
  • What about change management
  • How does agile fit with long-term planning

By days end we saw some super agile concepts, and there was no disagreement that we should concentrate on getting things done as opposed to over planning everything. Agile is very important for team productivity, but scaling was still going to create a management overhead. Some attendees felt that Agile training wasn’t entirely focussed on project management but instead team management.

Brush up on your knowledge with our expert PMP evening workshop session. PMP may still have a long life but let’s stretch ourselves and be more agile.

Scrum Training

The Product Owner is not the same person as Business Analyst.

The key is in the name, its all about ownership. A Business Analyst collects and analyses requirements which is a major part of a product owner role but there is a lot more to it than analysis.

The product owner roles is to Create Business value, so its not just collecting requirement but it to prioritise them.  The product owner then works with the development team to get the highest priority part of the product produced first.

  • Monitor progress toward a goal (*)

The Product Owner is accountable for the success of the project, that’s a significantly more than most business analyst would say.  Their role is also to create the product vision and create a road map for delivery. It much more akin to a project Manager or I’d even say a project sponsor.

The Product Owner manages the long list of deliverable (called the product backlog). Therefore the roles is more akin to a scope management role.

  • Scope may be clarified and re-negotiated between the Product Owner and Development Team (*)

 

The Product Owner also defines a definition of done so there is a quality aspect to the role as well. It’s of little value to the customer if the deliverable is not fit for purpose. They are not the only person doing a quality role the development team has a roles to play.

  • This Increment is useable, so a Product Owner may choose to immediately release it.(*)

The Product owner is responsible for communication. Particularly to stakeholder and to enable the appropriate level of communication between stakeholders and the development team.

  • Ensure that the product backlog is visible, transparent and clear to all (*)

If the product Owners Role is to create Business Value then they must also ensure that the development has the appropriate resources to get the value. This element of the roles may be shared with someone like the Scrum Master who is trying to remove impediments. But to me it suggests the Product Owner is responsible for cost management.

The Product will document requirements, probably in the form of user stories but the role is not just Business analysis.  The role also takes over some of the Project manager’s role and also some of the Sponsor’s role.

(*) Taken for the scrum guide

Althris provide Scrum Master Training Dublin