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Facilitation

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Waterfall Vs Scrum

Scrum Master Certification

I’m often asked if Scrum is better than Waterfall or Waterfall better than Scrum.

Waterfall advocates that we do a significant amount of design upfront. But its not possible to do it all up upfront. That would be crazy and simply never happened in any traditional project that I was involved it.

Scrum advocated that we should not over designing as the customers/user doesn’t really know what they want. Therefore spending time investigating would be wasted. Let’s just build it and as we build, check with the customer to see if it’s what they want.

 

Importantly, Scrum is not a series of mini waterfalls where we design for a few days and then build then test the next few days. We should do the design, build and hopefully test at the same time. Removing the upfront design effort and merging it with the build. Chances are, it will take the same amount of effort to design and build but it will be what the customer wants – better quality. And we have maximised the amount of work not-done by not delivering what the customer did not need.

But what about the longer term planning, a lot of the longer term planning goes out the window. But Scrum does not account for the fact that there is still some longer term planning required. For example it may take the supplier 3 months to provide the interface design, or that the training days have to be organised at least 2 months in advance. You are going to have to implement some traditional planning to get this right. Agilest might call this release planning, traditionalists might call it program management. I think they are more or less the same thing – both aim to link organisational strategy to tactics.

Both traditional project management and agile-scrum are trying to tackle the “getting it done” part of the business. This is the tactics for change. However,they approach it in a different way, Traditional Project Management suggests that we can deliver on the tactics by planning, setting the rules and measuring progress. The other option is, agile-scrum and the tactics are achieved by sharing the goals and empowering the team to just getting it done – now.

So what will working better, empowering the team or measuring the activity? You decide based on the complexity of the task and the engagement levels of staff.

Althris provide training in Scrum Master, Certified Product Owner, Agile and Iterative Project Management Methods.

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7 Steps to passing the PSM I exam

Facing into an exam is never easy, particularly if your company is paying for it, or if you are doing it with a group of work colleagues; you don’t want to be seen as a failure.

At the moment of writing this, there are two well-known certificate centres. The first one is the scrum.org organisation, run by Ken Schwaber, which does a certification titled Professional Scrum Master (PSM). The second is the Scrum Alliance team, which makes you Certified Scum Master (CSM). In this article, I am writing about PSM certification, but those hints are also valid for CSM candidates.

To pass the PSM exam at the first level, you need to focus both on preparation for the exam, and on the exam itself. Below you can find seven tips that can definitely help you in reaching your goal.

1.   Attend a good Scrum Master training course.

It all begins with training. You can study on your own, but it is like learning the rules of physics from a book. It is possible, but without any practice and instant feedback from the trainer, you may understand things the wrong way. There is a lot to be learned from the classroom environment – feedback and questions from other student enhance the learning experience. There is also the opportunity for ongoing support from your classmates.

In everywhere there are Scrum courses of varying quality on offer, so the most efficient way to select one is probably by asking people. Word of mouth is very powerful, and you will get real information about the trainer.

The training programme must contain practice hours. This is when you verify your theoretical knowledge, and where you really absorb the material. Listening to lectures is boring, and you actually don’t learn that much; but practising it during the course helps you get a real understanding. On top of that, when you figure out how things work, you are more likely to remember it automatically.

Please check how many participants are to attend at a given date. The higher the number is, the lower chance of individual contact with the trainer and of having all your questions answered. On the other hand, being alone is not good either, as you need a team you can train on. In my opinion, eight to 12 people in the room is the right number, as the trainer can replicate two Scrum teams. 6 works but at 16 its getting hard to get the trainers attention.

Real Practice – learners design their own Scrum process.

2.   Do open assessment.

On the scrum.org page, you will find the “Open Assessments” tab where you can check your knowledge about the Scrum framework. This sample exam is a must-do thing before the exam, for three reasons.

The first reason is that it will allow you to check whether you are good enough to pass the final exam. It will save you stress and money, as this is free of charge, so you have nothing to lose.

The second reason is to see what the real exam looks like, and how fast you are able to read and answer the questions. It will help you get used to the pressure of time, and will give you a feel for the exam and how it looks.

The third reason, equally important as the first two, is that by answering those question, you are still learning. What is great is that you can do open assessment many times, and each time you will answer different questions. By doing this, you simply learn new things, and new ideas appear in your head. You can find answers to them later in books, and so your knowledge will grow. Remember that some of those questions are similar to, or the same as, the ones in the real exam – so don’t just pluck answers from the air.

Try the Althris Sample Exam here

3.   Explore the Scrum Guide.

The Scrum Guide is your primary source of knowledge. It is a short read, but every sentence matters. It’s dense with information, so read it a number of times and stop to think about the implications of each sentence. As it is for many experienced Scrum Masters, you will still need to look back at this document throughout your career, so get to know it.

The PSM I exam is sometimes tricky, and a small detail can decide whether your answer is correct or not. General knowledge is not enough, as it leads to quick but wrong answers in the exam. You need to know exactly how concepts are presented in the guide.

4.   Buddy up for a day.

If you are already working in an Agile company where there are Scrum Masters, you are lucky. Ask any of them if you can become his or her ghost for a couple of days. Buddying is a learning technique, where one employee does their daily tasks as usual, while the second person follows what is going on. The buddy accompanies the employee all day long.

You learn by observation, but you also get to ask anything about the Scrum Master’s work. The most important thing in this exercise is that you will encounter real-life situations, which will generate tons of questions in your head. You can get instant answers to those questions, as the expert is at your fingertips. I can guarantee that you will learn a lot, and it will be a kind of interesting experience for you both.

5.   Use discussion groups.

I am subscribed to several Scrum groups on LinkedIn and, from time to time, I am notified by email about some new threads. People ask loads of questions, from the basic level, like “We have teams of 10; is that OK with Scrum?” to more sophisticated ones such as “How do you manage dependencies between teams working on the same backlog?”

You should read first before contributing any questions. As you read loads of questions and answers, you will get to see different points of view, and then start to formulate your own.

The second thing is that discussion groups are another way to find replies to your topics. Don’t hesitate to post your doubts, even if you are a newbie. Experienced people really do like to respond – I think it makes them feel more like experts. And you get the benefit of their knowledge

6.   Choose the perfect time and place.

The good thing about the PSM exam is that you can take it at a place and time of your choosing. Most people are at their peak effectiveness in the morning, but there are exceptions to this rule, so choose what is best for you. The other important thing is choosing a place. Be sure you won’t be interrupted, and there won’t be any annoying background noise.

Having a space where you can read out the question also really helps concentration for some people, and certainly reduces stress.

7.   Read the exam carefully.

There are 80 questions, and 60 minutes to answer them. It means that you have one minute to read the question and give the answer, so don’t be in a rush. As I mentioned above, some of the questions are tricky, and one word can change the whole meaning of the sentence. Spend most of this minute on reading thoroughly before answering. When you get stuck, give the most probable answer, and continue. The system allows you to go back and change the answer if needed, but really a straight-through read is often the best way. It’s a short exam, and you may not have the time to revisit the questions as you go.

You can use this article as a starting point for your own checklist before the exam. Check what works for you and what doesn’t. And, after all, this is hard work – so don’t forget to celebrate the success. You will soon be a member of a small elite group of certified Scrum Masters.

I am also due to publish an ebook (just tidying it up at the moment) with further information and pointers, so subscribe to be the first to get an issue.

Good luck!

David is currently writing a more detailed guide on the PSM exam linkin to get further updates

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Project Schedules the Management Model on Agile Methodology

Agile Development: Project Schedules on an Agile Methodology

If you come from a traditional project management background, or if you have a Project Management Office (PMO) that needs a project monitoring tool or status, then you’ll be used to Gantt charts; but in Agile we’ve got even better tools for the management and visualisation of progress.

Tracking the burndown graph that shows the evolution of the sprint is vital to the progress of the development cycle, as are Kanban boards that make it easier to see the task progression.

By using these two tools, we actually have significantly more control than with a complex Gantt chart. The tasks are the stories, which for the users have a clear outcome, as they can actually see the deliverable emerging.

The Kanban Board  is used to show progress of individual stories and their progression through the development cycle. There is no need to micro-manage the sub-tasks – just keep an eye on the story.

Kanban Board

 

 

 

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Burndown Chart

 

 

 

 

 

The burndown shows the throughput of work, and how much there is to go. The work left to be done could be seen as both effort and complexity – because they are the same thing.

Here are some tips that can help you create these progress charts for Agile software development projects:

  • Don’t overcomplicate the Kanban board; just make sure it works and is being used.
  • The most granular level in the Agile timeline is that of the stories, so it is not necessary to include sub-tasks for the stories.
  • It does not make sense to control the timing of each story, since we are talking about the timing of each iteration (sprint), and the set of stories that compose these iterations.
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Scrum Master

about us training

Scrum Master Overview 

Scrum as a method of learning and developing your team? As we know, the goal of any organization is to have high-performing, cross-functional teams. Now a-days, most of the IT organization has successfully used this for creating high-performing, cross-functional teams. This changed the outlook of software development, innovating the scope of work. This has revolutionized businesses for team building and development to increase productivity and effectiveness.

The scrum master is responsible for making sure that the team lives by the values and practices. He helps product owner to create a balance as a process owner for the team and does anything possible to help the team perform at their highest level. He is a true mentor, visionary and process champion for the team and not a mere manager, guru or a project administrator.
This Scrum Master session is a 2-day course that covers the principles and (empirical) process theory underpinning the Scrum framework, and the role of the Scrum Master in it. This course is a combination of instruction and team-based exercises, and teaches what is at the heart of the Scrum and Agile movement.The course includes advanced thinking for servant-leadership and behavioral shifts. Throughout the course, students are challenged to think in terms of the Scrum principles to better understand what to do when returning to the workplace.The Scrum Master Course course is much more than just a set of slides and an instructor. In this course, students work on real-life cases with other classmates together as a team. This course is made up of discussions and hands-on exercises based upon real-life cases.
Scrum Master courses take place in Dublin and Cork and in-house training can also be arranged.The course also covers all the topics related to Scrum Master and includes practice exams

Topics Covered 

  • Scrum theory and principles
  • The Scrum Framework
  • The Definition of Done
  • Running a Scrum project
  • Working with people and teams
  • Scrum in your organization
  • The role of the Scrum Master
  • Scrum Master sample exam with work through and discussions on responses

Who Should Attend?

Project manager, Program manager,  Technical project manager, Team lead, Project lead, Technical lead, Release manager, Test manager, Test engineer, Quality engineer, Quality analyst, Test analyst, Business analyst, Software Engineer, System Engineer, Developer, Programmer, Account manager, Service manager, Manager, Product Manager, Software coder, Software tester, Manager – software development, Architect – software development, Product management

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Scrum Master (Session 1) I

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ScrumMaster I Sample (Open) Quiz

Sample  I Quizz

This is a 20 question I sample quizz, it its a fair reflection of the PSM and a slightly more difficult than CSM questions. More difficult questions have been added recently to to the quizz so be sure that any tests you do are recent versions (Summer 2017).

Its 15 minutes long which reflects the timings in the real exam, register on the site to get more sample exams.

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Is estimating a waste of time

Our world is built up of plans and estimate, business judge the CEO’s and senior manager by the estimates they produce and how they deliver on them. Without estimate we can’t prepare for the future.

In our daily life we plan using estimates, like how long will it take us to get to the airport, how much will we need to put aside for our summer holidays (vacations?)

The process of doing estimates has significant influences on our decisions making. For example can we afford our trip to France, or how long do we leave for the airport before the flight. Failure to make accurate estimates could have a lasting impact. We could miss the flight, or we could overspend on the holiday resulting credit problems.

Clearly for big business and for smaller personal decision estimation is vital. It is no less vital for our development or business change project to have a handle on the costs and delivery timescales. But is estimation the way to do.

Business stakeholder need to incorporate the estimates into their cost and deliverables. They need to be bought into the estimate in order to buy into the project. When an estimate is asked for, it’s critical to understand why an estimate is needed.

In scrum we estimate in detail, scrutinise, reviewed and update these estimates regularity. But the purpose and timings of these estimates is not what the business stakeholders is looking for.

Business stakeholders want to have some idea of when they’ll get which features, the number of resources needed to meet a timeline, and of course costs. None of this information can be provided without taking time to do some estimation and planning.

To get to a satisfactory solution to the conflicting requirements we need to separate out the stakeholders requirements into the 3 elements and deal with them separately.

1 Planning –

Planning gives the business an idea of the resources timescales and activities. The act of planning is a large part of the value, not the piece of paper the plan is written on. This plan is not about specific component delivery but about how we deliver the cycles and more importantly it is to come to a shared understanding of what we as a team can achieve.

2 Budget –

Budgeting projects uses a top down approach, where you decompose only so far as you need to in order to have enough information to make your decision.

Budgeting can be done in much less time and Budgets make better sense “what can you do for €XX.xx” This approach clears the way for the product owner to set some of the priorities.

Secondly Knowing the customer’s or management budget expectation impacted the developers’ estimates. It’s called anchoring.

3) Agile Estimates –

It is easier to have confidence that we can accomplish small things than big things regardless of what number we attach to that smallness/bigness. Agile estimates are small, lower level and feed into the budget and cycles that we have set out.

We are close to the action and have more confidence that we can deliver the controlled delivery. Smaller results in less variations and the variation in estimates easily to manage. The delivery teams can then stand over their estimates.

Agilists must accept the need for revenue and budget forecasts to be taken seriously

It is easy to join the chorus of opinion that software project estimation is waste and must be eliminated. Whilst I can understand the objections to spending valuable time preparing and rationalizing a set of estimates for ill-defined features or projects.

Breaking it into the 3 process can satisfy bot the business and the agilest

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Scrum Master is not a Project Manager

The Specific Reasons Why a Scrum Master is Not a Project Manager

 

Companies new to Agile often fall into the crucial trap of mistaking the Scrum Master role with the role of a Project Manager. This often leads towards a dramatic detriment in productivity, since the Scrum Master role requires a very specific skillset which is entirely different from the more generalist role of a Project Manager.

 

This article will point out the main differences between those roles and help you to chose the right person for both positions to make your project a success.

 

The Classical Role of Project Management

 

The Project Manager leads the project on a day-to-day basis, controls, communicates and provides direction. His role can be summarizes into the four following categories:

 

#1: Manage Processes: The Project Manager gets the project “up and running”, selects the team, establishes milestones and project schedules with the team and leads the project on a daily basis

 

#2: Track Process: The Project Manager monitors the timely achievement of milestones, tracks team costs and investments, overseas the documentation and provides direction

 

#3: Facilitate Cross-Functional Collaboration: The Project Manager Identifies linkages between sub-projects and coordinates cross-team cooperation

#4: Communication: The coordination of key project-related messaging to internal and external audiences, as well as communicating project information to the line management are Project Management roles

The Specific Role of the Scrum Master

The Scrum Master on the other hand does not manage the team on a daily basis. His role is more of a coaching and a facilitation role regarding Scrum, which makes him the link between the project team and the client.

Scrum Masters cooperate closely with the Executive Sponsor. They ensure that the project complies with Scrum and that all processes are implemented properly. The role can be summarized into the 3 following categories:

#1: Overcome Stumbling Blocks: The Scrum Master steers the development, resolves problems and involves the right people in the development process

#2: Oversee the Groundwork: The Scrum Master keeps two eyes on user experience, functionality issues and feedback from all stakeholders

#3: Provide Guidance: Helping to facilitate changes and assist in the planning process while providing overall Scrum guidance is a crucial function of the Scrum Master

 

There you have the main difference:

The Scrum Master is there to help and assist with highly specific technical knowledge but not to manage the workflow.

Summary: The Scrum Master is not a Project Manager

 

The role of the Scrum Master is more specific and technical than the more general role of a Project Manager. Both are important. Confusing these roles however almost certainly leads towards failure in the execution of Agile – and towards huge losses.

 

Make sure you have these important positions covered with the right people.

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Agile – back to basis

Agile Priniples

Back to Basics: When was the last time you looked at the Agile Manifesto?

 

The Agile Software Development method was officially introduced in 2001 (http://agilemanifesto.org/). However, evidence of similar incremental software development methods dates back to as early as 1957. The recent hype due to the method’s continuous improvement and rapid development led to confusion and information clutter.

 

It is time to take it back to the basics today and focus on Agile’s core values.

 

Honestly, when was the last time you looked at the Agile Manifesto? If this has been a while ago, here is a quick summary to refresh your memory and help you focus on the core conceptual framework.

 

The Agile Manifesto – The Key to Success in Agile Development

 

The manifesto was laid out in February 2001, when 17 software developers met in Utah to discuss lightweight development methods. The results have been groundbreaking. Here are the main values and working principles.

 

The 4 Core Values of Agile

 

In order to uncover more user-friendly ways of software development, the following values have been announced.

 

Individuals and Interactions      >          Process and Tools

Working Software                           >          Comprehensive Documentation

Customer Collaboration                >          Contract Negotiation

Responding to Change                  >          Following a Plan

 

Are you following these core values in your recent Agile project? If not, do not be surprised if the project lacks in success.

 

The 12 Core Principles of Agile

 

#1: Customer Satisfaction: Develop valuable and useful software quick

#2: Welcome Change: Make changes during all stages of development

#3: Frequent Delivery: Produce little working chunks of software constantly

#4: Close Cooperation: Co-create the software with all stakeholders

#5: Motivate Individuals: Develop a working atmosphere of mutual trust

#6: Direct Communication: Talk to involved parties face-to-face as much as possible

#7: Working Software: Produce software that creates results

#8: Sustainable Development: Maintain a constant development pace

#9: Continuous Attention: Focus on technical excellence and good design

#10: Simplicity: Maximize the amount of work not done

#11: Self-Organization: Allow teams to self-organize around their strengths

#12: Regular Adaptation: Adapt to changing circumstances

 

These principles can be applied to almost all processes of your business. In Agile, they are crucial towards the efficient and timely achievement of real results.
These core values and Principles are vital to the implementation of an agile process, it is essential that you regularly look to these principle to ensure you are not just following a process but truly building an agile environment.