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What Does It Mean to Be an Agile Project Manager?

What Does It Mean to Be an Agile Project Manager?

What Does It Mean to Be an Agile Project Manager?

The Agile framework is very different than traditional project management. So what does it mean to be an Agile project manager?

Have you ever wondered if your expertise as a project manager can transfer to an Agile environment? Fundamentally, the approach to an Agile project is very different from other methodologies such as waterfall. As such, an Agile project manager will play a different role then they're traditionally used to.

Instead of directing team members, you'll act as a guide, facilitator, mentor, change expert, coach, and trainer. If you've wondered what's involved in becoming an Agile project manager, read on to learn more about what it takes to be exceptional in this role.

Agile vs. Traditional Project Management

A traditional project management approach is linear, where each phase of the process occurs in a particular sequence. It follows a set sequence which is:

  • Feasibility
  • Planning
  • Designing
  • Building
  • Testing
  • Production
  • Support

Everything about the project is planned up upfront, and there is no scope for changes once it's up and running. It assumes that time and cost are variables, but the requirements are fixed.

Agile project management focusses on teamwork, customer collaboration, and flexibility. It takes an iterative approach by incorporating customer feedback and continuous releases. Rather than focusing on a predefined process, it delves into evolving changes and adapts to suit the user needs.

The two most widely used frameworks are Scrum and Kanban. They encourage decision-making and give less attention to variables that are certain to change. Customer satisfaction is a top priority, and teams will fast-track development to meet user demands.

The Role of an Agile Project Manager

There are some similarities between a traditional project manager and an Agile project manager. Some of the qualities that they should possess:

  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Ability to prioritise
  • Can thrive under pressure
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Able to work well with others
  • Fantastic critical thinking capabilities
  • The ability to think on their feet
  • Are comfortable with rapid changes to priorities
  • Have a high level of adaptability and flexibility

The Agile project manager will still work with upper management for strategic decision making. They're also the sole person responsible for the successful delivery of the project. However, they won't work closely with the team responsible for producing the results.

Instead, the project manager will work directly with the Scrum Master. All communication will flow to the Scrum Manager, who then manages the team's performance and impediments. This partnership allows the Agile project manager to focus on delivery timelines and the Scrum Master to utilise their energies on the quality of the product.

The Agile project manager is also in charge of managing risks and addressing them with the management teams. The Scrum Master will work with the project manager to ensure that any roadblocks are removed so that the delivery team has a clear runway to achieve their goals.

Agile Project Management Tools

Project management tools can vary between teams, but their purpose is to plan, execute, and manage projects in one centralised virtual location. Most project management software can be used for:

  • Project planning
  • Project scheduling
  • Resource allocation and capacity planning
  • Project budgets
  • Quality management
  • Storing and sharing documents and records
  • Creation and publishing project reports
  • Tracking the time spent on project tasks versus the plan
  • Analysing trends
  • Forecasting

Managing a project without project management tools is possible, but there is an increased risk of errors and additional inefficiencies that come in doing so. The most common alternative to software is spreadsheets. However, this requires a lot of effort to get set up and manual updates, which comes with a risk of errors occurring.

Choosing the Right Agile Framework

There are more than six popular Agile frameworks to choose from, so it's important to assess the needs of the project to determine the right one for the job. There are some best practices that Agile project managers use to identify the right framework.

Begin by assessing the project size and scope. If it's a large project, it can be challenging to break it down into two-week sprints. But if it is still being defined, then Agile is always a better fit than a traditional framework.

Next, determine the project drivers. It's imperative to understand the business case and the value of the project to the organisation. You should also learn what it means to the customer and the outcomes they should expect.

Once you've identified the project drivers, you should learn about the priorities that can impact each of the frameworks. When you have this, you can make a list of the methodologies and rank how suitable they are.

When you've decided on a framework, then you can start working. You have to remember that the key concept of Agile is to be flexible and adaptable. If the methodology that you've chosen isn't producing the results that you're expecting, then you should modify it to suit the needs of the project or change frameworks altogether.

How Do You Become an Agile Project Manager?

If you want to learn how to succeed as a project manager, Agile Center can help you achieve this goal. We provide consultancy and training services in Lean-Agile transformation, strategy audit and implementation, and program management and portfolio.

Our team has over 400 highly experienced consultants and trainers over 70 locations. We can train and coach you to become an effective Agile project manager by providing you with process guidelines, templates, process improvement techniques, and team composition. Get in contact with our team to learn how we can help you and your business deliver successful Agile projects.

5 Reasons Your Organization Can Benefit From Agile Framework Training

5 Reasons Your Organization Can Benefit From Agile Framework Training

5 Reasons Your Organization Can Benefit From Agile Framework Training

Break away from oversized can complicated systems. Here are 5 reasons your organization will benefit from an agile framework.

We've seen a lot of changes to the way we work thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the flexibility of teams all over the world, it could be time to adopt a new way of working. Have you considered the Scaled Agile Framework?

The original Agile framework dates to 2001. It has plenty of advantages for developing products. That said, it's difficult to work across large organisations.

Ten years later, Dean Leffingwell adapted it into the Scaled Agile Framework. This made it a great fit for these larger businesses.

Scaled Agile Framework adds the principles of Lean manufacturing to Agile's continual development.

Here are five reasons why your business can use Scaled Agile Framework training.

1. Increased Productivity

This is perhaps one of the key reasons companies switch to using this framework. It ensures better levels of productivity.

That's because teams work in alignment with the product, what it needs to do, and how it needs to work. This keeps teams focused on the specifics of each iteration. Time isn't lost on tangents or unnecessary side projects.

They also work within the stakeholder's expectations. This leads to a good balance between the work assigned and what's expected.

As the framework focuses on how to work lean and agile, this suggests specific ways to work. All team members must follow the same process in the same way.

This brings aligns the focus of each team to produce a high-quality product. Everyone ultimately sings from the same hymn sheet.

2. Better Transparency

Many businesses work in a traditional 'silo' setting. You might have Research and Development, Operations, Quality Assurance, and so on. They work on their own projects in their own way.

This creates a sense of functional independence in each department. Unfortunately, it doesn't foster any cross-department collaboration or communication.

Working across departments offers the kind of innovation that can make products exceptional.

The Scaled Agile Framework emphasises transparency. Every team knows what other teams are working on. Note the importance of the team, rather than the department.

Increase the sense of transparency by learning Agile from an online course with your team. Everyone learns the same information from the same source.

3. Built-in Quality Assurance

If you have individual teams using the Agile Framework, they may run their own version of it. That works for them and you get good results.

Yet you soon run into problems when you try to scale the framework across the whole business. Each version of Agile may be slightly out-of-kilter with the others.

Part of this is because individual teams are running to a different iteration timetable. They may also use different practices depending on their technical disciplines.

Finally, individual teams might use different project management tools or reporting processes. All of these factors can lead to quality issues.

Training teams in the Scaled Agile Framework helps solve these problems. Leffingwell designed the framework for use at scale. It has quality practices built into it.

Think of each process followed in each iteration as its own quality assurance guide. Creating these guides before the project begins keeps quality top-of-mind throughout.

4. Improved Teamwork

The framework focuses on the 'teams' aspect. In fact, the framework doesn't work unless you have a robust set of teams in place.

When using the Scaled Agile Framework, teams need to be able to organise themselves so they can deliver work. This requires excellent planning and communication skills.

Teams also help to create the vision for the product in collaboration with the client. Members know why they're working on particular projects. This helps to keep the team motivated since they're also passionate about the vision.

The other advantage of the Framework for team working is a better understanding of which roles are actually needed.

When you first use Agile in a team, you can spot which new roles you will need. It also shows you which current roles can or should change to suit the projects.

The same happens when you use the Scaled Agile Framework. You'll get a good overview of where product management fits into the new scheme of things.

This gives great opportunities for better planning, human resources issues, and working on a portfolio of projects.

5. Faster Working

As we've said, the framework keeps everyone heading in the same direction. This means all teams work to the same strategy at each level of the organization.

This means you get products to market quicker because you remove the blocks that otherwise hold up your progress. You also work to a set timeline so projects can't drag on for months beyond their original deadline.

In fact, businesses using the Scaled Agile Framework enjoy a 30–75 percent faster time-to-market.

Working in this faster format has other benefits. Failures or mistakes become easier to spot earlier on. This means you can fix them when they're less problematic.

It also means that businesses can ship products in increments. This provides you with feedback at earlier stages in the process.

Without using Agile, you might release a product and wait a few months for customers to find the bugs. Or the negative reviews pinpoint things you'd missed.

When you use an Agile process, you continually work to improve the product. You can add new features to the scope with new iterations. This means you only work on features the users want, rather than what you think they want.

The other benefit is the ability to generate a return on the investment much more quickly. By working in chunks, smaller investments are required to get started.

That's How Scaled Agile Framework Benefits You

You can see why and how the Scaled Agile Framework benefits large organisations. Now is a great time to invest in training as we transition to new working practices for the pandemic.

You and your clients can enjoy more productive, transparent, and beneficial working relationships. With products developed more quickly, you can enjoy starting work on the next project.

Would you like to introduce the Framework to your organisation? Click here to check our range of Agile training courses.

Agile Center Partners with PEDCO

Agile Center announces a partnership with PEDCO

Agile Center is pleased to announce a partnership with PEDCO. The direct connection between Agile Center and PEDCO will expand the number of Applied SAFe® clients. While leveraging the practices and principles of Lean-Agile standards through extensive training sessions conducted by Agile Center, Applied SAFe® will be delivered by PEPCO.

ABOUT PEDCO

PEDCO is a public limited company based in Zurich, Switzerland and collaboration partner of Scaled Agile Inc., Boulder (USA) and Method Park, Erlangen (Germany). They support enterprises around the globe for process implementations within regulatory environments. PEDCO offers a comprehensive range of solutions to set-up, select, operate, and develop lean, compliant and efficient processes. Their mission is to help system and software-dependent enterprises achieve better business outcomes, increase employee engagement, and improve economics through the application of Lean-Agile principles and practices with Applied SAFe® based on the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®). Applied SAFe® is a stand-alone product from PEDCO. It is a fully fledged ALM tool agnostic implementation of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) as a process model and kept in sync with the current SAFe® version by Scaled Agile Inc. (SAI). Together with partners, PEDCO ensures a smooth transition to agile, lean, efficient and compliant processes with Applied SAFe. For further information please visit their website on www.appliedSAFe.com

Agile Center announces a partnership with PEDCO

ABOUT AGILE CENTER

Agile Center provides consultancy and training services in the Lean-Agile Transformation, Agile Strategy audit and implementation and Agile Program/Portfolio management areas. Through implementation of proven world-class standards, we support our clients in establishing and achieving their business goals. As a leading consultancy and training company, we trained more than 4000 professionals in more than 70 locations. We deliver our services based on globally recognized standards and hands-on experience. We focus on our client's requirements and strive to maximize client's business value. Our team is composed of highly experienced consultants and trainers. Agile Center is a brand of Architecture Center Ltd. Architecture Center Ltd is Silver Partner of Scaled Agile, Inc. and The Open Group® Gold member. We offer accredited and licensed SAFe, AgilePM, TOGAF, IT4IT, ArchiMate and COBIT training courses. Visit agile-center.com to learn more about Agile Center

Everything You Need to Know About Agile Online Courses

Everything You Need to Know About Agile Online Courses

Everything You Need to Know About Agile Online Courses

Online classes are a great way to learn how to implement the Agile system in your workplace. Here's everything you need to know about Agile online courses.

Keyword(s): Agile online courses

Software developers rely on certain constants to make certain that they're on task and productive. Agile has emerged as one of the most worthwhile methodologies that several professionals used.

By taking coursework related to Agile you'll learn the tools and information to add this methodology to your workflow. Read on to learn more about taking Agile online courses that can take your workplace and skills to the next level.

Why Should You Take Agile Online Courses?

So what makes an online Agile course such an excellent idea? If you're interested in this methodology and don't quite know where to start, taking courses will help you learn the major points that come with the territory.

These courses are convenient since you're taking them remotely and on your own time. You can comb through the entire course curriculum and work ahead whenever you need to. Since it's online, you'll also be learning with a community of other students and can review the archives of information whenever you need a refresher course.

When you understand the benefits of Agile you'll be better able to implement it into your workflow. Here's what you can do for your workplace when you take online Agile coursework:

1. Agile Allows for Growth and Transparency

By embracing Agile, you're essentially embracing growth and transparency with your workflow. This workflow lets you stay transparent with your customers so that they play a role in the development process.

They'll have the chance to chime in on review sessions and will have a say in some of the features that you work on implementing. When you maintain this measure of transparency you can count on your customer base growing with you. It enhances your relationship with your supporters and improves your retention rates.

2. The Costs Are Predictable

When you implement Agile, you're giving each leg of the project a fixed timetable and deadline. By getting more methodical about the way you put these projects together, it's also easier for you to control the costs.

By controlling the costs of your development you will get more out of your budget and will inevitably improve your profit margins as a result.

3. It's a Quality Process That Will Carry Your Team

Flat-out, you'll get more quality from your software development process when you incorporate Agile. With this methodology, the focus is qualitative, rather than quantitative.

Agile puts your workers in the best position to succeed and contribute, rather than trying to arbitrarily fit them into roles. The individuals' strengths and weaknesses come into play heavily when creating plans of action.

What's more, your team will have more continuity and everyone has access to changes as they occur.

4. You Can Make Changes as Needed

Change is the name of the game with the Agile methodology. You'll have the freedom to make changes to your backlog without it being cumbersome.

Since transparency is a key part of Agile, all your developers can respond to these changes in the most effective way possible.

What Are the Most Useful Agile Certifications?

After you pass an Agile exam you'll be able to also rack up certifications. You now know while Agile courses are an excellent idea, but which are the most useful?

Here are a few quality certifications that you should consider seeking:

1. ICAgile Certified Professional (ICP)

This certification sets the tone for a lot of the Agile philosophies that you'll carry with you throughout your career. It'll teach you all about things like programming and coaching in all of its varieties.

You'll learn the fundamentals, which you can build upon in other courses.

2. Agile Scrum Master (ASM)

Achieving the Agile Scrum Master (ASM) certification gives you the chance to put together the most capable team and put them in the best position to succeed. The coursework revolves around creating assignments that help your team maximize its value.

Whether you run a large corporation, are planning out Information Technology (IT) projects or want to put together a new piece of software, getting ASM certifications will serve you.

3. Certified Scrum Master (CSM)

The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification is among the most common Agile certification. As such, it opens you up to tremendous career prospects.

When you're a Scrum master, you will exhibit an expert level understanding of this methodology that will translate to any energy you're working in.

4. PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

This certification builds on principles like active listening and brainstorming. You'll be able to coach your team with more deliberateness after getting the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification.

In addition to the training that you get from the course, this certification requires a few thousand hours of experience in the industry before you can pass. By learning a bit more about this courseload you'll bring expert-level thinking to every project that you take on.

Add Agile to Your Workplace

These tips can help you get started with this popular methodology through the use of Agile online courses. Regardless of what line of work you're in, it's up to you to add more tools to your toolbox whenever possible.

It's incredibly convenient to rack up certifications when you register for online courses. You'll come away with the thought processes and framework that will grow and sustain your team for the future.

We would love to help you make that transition. Be sure to lean on us for courses, training, and more. Use the points in this article and contact us via the web or call us at (929)255-1300 (for US) and +44 (0) 20 3598 3287 (for EU).

The Differences Between a SAFe Product Owner and a Scrum Master

The Differences Between a SAFe Product Owner and a Scrum Master

The Differences Between a SAFe Product Owner & a Scrum Master

Although they both have the same objective, a Scrum Master's main focus are its team and operations of the team. Lined up are the key differences between them.

Keyword(s): Scrum Master

Are you curious about whether your team needs a product owner or scrum master? Or are you considering which role is a better fit for your personality?

If so, then you’re in the right place. We’ll break down the key differences between your Scrum Master role and that of the product owner.

Don’t worry if the titles confuse you, keep reading to learn all about what each role does and how they can help your team.

What is SAFe?

The agile methodology has been turning heads since its inception at the turn of the 21st century by like-minded software developers. Today agile is being adopted by more than just software developers. Teams everywhere are embracing the roles of the agile process.

Within the agile process are four key roles, the stakeholders, the scrum master, the product owner, and the scrum team.

The difference between a scrum master vs product owner can be subtle, but strong agile teams understand they need both. These two leaders will work together in tandem to guide their teams towards production. All while maintaining an agile environment and lean production.

The SAFe environment is a framework that allows large organizations to utilize the same agile process as smaller companies. Your company can quickly get your next product to market.

Organizations across various industries are all adopting the agile methodology. This is helping them to streamline and improve their development process.

Keeping your business agile becomes increasingly difficult the bigger your corporation becomes. However, the SAFe model allows larger companies to incorporate the agile methodology into their product development framework.

What is a Product Owner?

The product owner works behind the scenes in your organization. They work to incorporate several departments into the production process. They spin many plates and balance many team members to ensure that the best product is delivered to the customer.

While the product manager is forward-facing and interacts with the clients, the product owner is active in the back end interacting with the various departments working together to develop the product.

The product owner is responsible for ensuring that the customer’s priorities and requirements are met throughout the development and production of the new product.

The product owner is the liaison between the stakeholders and the teams working every day on the project. The product owner defines the user story and its iterations. They are responsible for contributing the vision and roadmap along with the product manager.

Smaller organizations might be able to get away with combining the product owner and product manager. However, as your company grows you will need separate people to fill each role.

The product owner is not necessarily at every meeting, as the scrum master is, but they are kept up to date on all decisions and meetings by the product manager.

What is the Scrum Master?

The scrum master is more involved in the day-to-day processes of the product development process. The scrum master is in charge of the implementation of the scrum process.

Their responsibilities include coordinating the team, managing the daily scrum meetings, and ensuring the process goes smoothly. Additionally, they are good communicators and listeners, they work with the team to ensure collaboration across all departments.

They coach the team when obstacles arise, they ensure that the definition of done is never changed, and they ensure that the scrum process is followed. They are also accountable for ensuring the product is delivered on time and budget.

The scrum master is responsible for ensuring that the team and operations are on track and will be completed on time. They are problem solvers and process developers, they are creative in the planning process and ensure that the backlog is prioritized and on time. Learning to be an effective scrum master isn't easy, but it can be very gratifying.

The scrum master and product owner must work together to deliver the best results possible for the customers. The scrum master plays a vital role in ensuring that the process is maintained and eventually is a success.

Key Differences Between Them

There are several key differences between the scrum master and product owner. Here we lay them out for you to see:

The Product Owner must:

  • Determine the deadlines
  • Determine the release date
  • Manage the backlog
  • Define the user stories

The Scrum Master must:

  • Keep the team from distraction
  • Assist the team in tackling obstacles
  • Manage the process and methodology
  • Arrange the daily stand up meetings and facilitate the process

As you can see these two roles are complementary and must work together to ensure the agile process is followed. They must cooperate to ensure the product is built efficiently and delivered on time.

Without each role, the process can become muddled and teams run the risk of working in silos away from each other. With the skilled training of quality scrum masters and product owners, the agile process is seamless and efficient.

The Same Objective With Different Roles

In a nutshell, the product owner is the big picture visionary who listens to the customer. They create product features that will ensure you create the perfect product for your clients.

The Scrum Master is the day-to-day tactician who can think on their feet and put out fires as they crop up.

Both roles are imperative to the scrum process and must work together to ensure the timely development of the best product possible.

With the proper training, your scrum master and product owner can work together to deliver the best product possible to your customer. We work hard every day to facilitate the learning and development of agile technicians and we want to work with your team to build the right environment at your organization today.

If you have any questions about how you can better train your team to facilitate the SAFe process, contact us today.

Agile Center

Agile Center provides consultancy and training services in the following areas: Lean-Agile Transformation, Agile Strategy audit & implementation and Agile Program/Portfolio management.

Agile Center is a brand of Architecture Center Ltd.