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 Waterfall Vs Scrum – what is better?

Waterfall advocates that we do a significant amount of design upfront. But it’s not possible to do it all up upfront. That never happens in any traditional project.

Waterfall Vs Scrum - Althris Dublin Training for project management

Scrum Master Certification

Scrum advocated that we should not over design as the customers/user doesn’t know what they want. Therefore spending time investigating would be wasted. Let’s build it and as we develop, 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, develop and 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 energy 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.

Project Management and Agile-Scrum

But what about the long-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 three months to provide the interface design or organise the training days at least two 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. A business needs to recognise 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 tactics for an agile-scrum help a team share the goals and empower them to get it done – now.

So what will work 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.

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.

Agile Practiitioner

The PMI-ACP is not difficult  but it does throw up some strange questions as the PMI try to relate the traditional PMP material to the  Agile methodologies. Many of the analysis techniques like  earned value are difficult to related to software development in a waterfall environment and applying them to agile seems like an unnecessary overhead we have no BAC.  The good news is that it is all due to change.

The current exam focuses on Scrum , Lean, Agile Concepts (the manifesto)  Kanban and XP and then mixes them up to create situation questions relating to general management or Project management (servant leader, Emotional intelligence etc.)

Mike Griffiths book is still the best general book, though I don’t think it gives Lean the coverage that is needed for the ACP Exam. Be careful with the online PMI-ACP exam question available online as  many of them are absolute rubbish, frustratingly written in an unknown dialect of English with confusing or completely incorrect answers.

The Velocitech website is probably the best set of exams out there and Andy Crowe’s  book is a good reference book with exam questions for the ACP exam but it is not a complete guide.

I do suggest that you research Mike Coen (Scrum) and  Mary Poppendieck (Lean) material. Their  publication,  webinars and blogs are a good source. Ken Schwaber book the “the art of doing twice as much in half the time” is worth a read for motivation though not particularly useful ACP

The books if you have the time are;

    • User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development – Mike Cohn
    • Agile Software Development with Scrum – Ken Schwaber & Mike Beedle
    • Extreme Programming Explained – Kent Beck
    • Agile Estimating and Planning – Mike Cohn
    • Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit – Mary & Tom Poppendieck
    • The Art of Agile Development – James Shore;

The Project Management Institute suggests a number of others on their website. These have changed from the previous exam  with 4 new books added and 4 removed. 2 are on Kanban alone.

The exam time is 3 hours with most of my student competing it in 1.5 hour and many in less than an hour. The question are not as tricky as the PMP exam, correct answers are more obvious and less where the answer required is the ‘‘best’ or ‘first’. Moving from agile concepts will catch you out, one minute we are taking about the customer, the next it’s a product owner and the next question may be from the point of view of a Project Manager.  

The course is a good course to get yourself up to speed as a traditional project manager, a middle manager or perhaps as a product owner. For developers or budding Scrum Masters It may not provide the level of detail and doesn’t deliver the ‘fun’ experience that agile encourages.

The course is changing with a different approach. It looks to me like it will concentrate more on the approach and mind-set and less on the specific concepts.  I suggest that it will aligned with the directions that the PMI have for the skills of  a combination of technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise

The new PMI-ACP exam will see a number of changes (PMP Exam Content Outline,) summarised below

There are sever domains of Agile practices

    1. Agile Principles and Mindset
    2. Value-driven Delivery
    3. Stakeholder Engagement
    4. Team Performance
    5. Adaptive Planning
    6. Problem Detection and Resolution
    7. Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)

The distribution of questions on the PMI-ACP exam paper are now based on the domains

  1. Agile Principles and Mindset – 16%
  2. Value-driven Delivery – 20%
  3. Stakeholder Engagement – 17%
  4. Team Performance – 16%
  5. Adaptive Planning – 12%
  6. Problem Detection and Resolution – 10%
  7. Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People) – 9%

New Tools and Technique / Knowledge and Skills are added while many are removed from the new PMI-ACP exam syllabus. New items added including:

    1. Developmental mastery models (for example, Tuckman, Dreyfus, Shu Ha Ri)
    2. Participatory decision models (for example, convergent, shared collaboration)
    3. Agile hybrid models
    4. Managing with agile KPIs
    5. the Five WHYs
    6. retrospectives, intraspectives
    7. control limits
    8. pre-mortem (rule setting, failure analysis)
    9. fishbone diagram analysis
    10. minimal viable product (MVP)

Althris Training have worked with our partners to redevelop our course material for the new ACP exam. To keep you posted and get more updates on both drop me an email