Showing posts from October, 2010

Organizational Structure

Think of an organization chart as a road map, it is more like an abstraction of a dynamic condition. An organization chart is limited in scope because it does not identify the companies’ intangibles like, skill sets, personality, attitudes and experience.

Organization charts help to define company relationships and usually answer some standard questions.

What is my position in the organization?
What is my title and job description?
Who am I accountable?
Who is accountable to me?
Who are other people of interest in the organization?
What do these people do?
What are the reporting relationships for these people?

If you do not address these questions, you will not understand important organizational relationships. If you act without organizational knowledge during your project you might violate company protocol(s). If you work or are in charge (PM/Scrummaster) of projects it is most likely that you use a matrix organization. The roadblock to this type of organization (matrix) is t…

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Here a few of my ideas that you can use to overcome resistance to change:

1.Involve those affected by a change in planning and implementing the change.
If you are using an agile frameworkEVERYONE has to be involved from day one, if you are using a more traditional framework you can make sure that your team members support change because you have to include them. People are less adverse to change when they help to create and get involved in planning and implementation, you will always create a more involved, positive and stable team. Advise all the team members that while their input may not be incorporated into a planned change, you will value, note their contribution and will consider it if it positive for the development of the application.

2.Thoroughly explain the need for the change.
When you explain a proposed change to a team member, you may discover that a change is not needed. Agile frameworks force the team to have face to face open communications and daily stand-ups so you w…

Change Management and Empowerment of Teams

We all know there are two types of people in this world: those that like change, welcome it, embrace it, and thrive on it and those that are secure with the status quo, keeping their heads down and hoping things remain the same. For many individuals the ability to thrive on change is a quality for many people, they also love stimulation and the excitement of learning new things. There is also a larger group of individuals who when they encounter new experiences before they are ready for them, these groups prefer change later.

For Project Managers change has two basic dimensions:
Change that each project team member must individually address.
Change that all team members must make to support your project.

When change impacts you or your team members, you must understand its nature to use change to your advantage. Most of the time predictability for most projects is low, consequently, it is necessary for each team member to become very comfortable with change to learn it love it and liv…

Team Development Stages

There are a number of different models that describe the stages of team development. In my experience I have been exposed to agile frameworks and waterfall frameworks in the development of applications. I traditional model of team development transcends the framework the team is utilizing to build the application. Traditionally team development has 4 main stages and the differences between the frameworks used are not that significant.

Try to focus on the models of team development they are very basic concepts I have used in the past:

When team members are assembled in their team for the first time, they experience many different feelings. Some are enthusiastic and optimistic, while others may be more cautious. I have never in this stage seen team members display outright anger or resentment. Sometimes they question the validity of the project, but they are careful because the level of trust and commitment is typically low.
Opposition will happen on all p…

Project Team Recruitment

Many problems surface, become apparent and are resolved during team member recruitment. When potential team members hear about an opportunity to be a part of your team, take time to communicate the nature of your project. Very importantly make sure they are aware of the framework you will be using for the project, because some frameworks are better suited for certain individuals. Agile frameworks are better suited for individuals who like the high speed development style, co-location of teams, face to face to face communications, etc. Some members will gravitate towards more of a traditional framework and they like the design first, build then test last scenarios. Help your team upfront to understand your expectations and also share how participation in your project will be a rewarding experience. When you promote your project and framework properly, the likelihood of having a pool of quality volunteers is high.

Here are a few guidelines when you are creating a team from pools of v…

Establishing a Project Team

Even when you are using different development frameworks (agile, waterfall, scrum) the selection of team members is a critical activity, if you select the wrong people for your project team, your project will encounter problems. If you try to fit a square peg in a round hole by attempting to modify team members' behavior or reassign personnel who are a bad fit, it disrupts the cohesiveness of your team. This is so important with agile frameworks that are being implemented today, because the team’s structure is defined by small teams (6-8 members) co-location of team, multiple skill sets for each team member, and daily face to face communications, a bad team member who does not fit stands out like a sore thumb. It would always be nice to have a formal process and a rational approach to recruit team members, but as you know it does not always work out that way.
Sometimes employees are assigned to a project, and in the case of an agile framework they may become resentful.

They are…

Project Manager as Team Member

We are all trying to find the secret to success, when running an application development team the secret is the planning to obtain the right skill sets for the team. I have always considered the project manager to be part of a project team even now more when you use agile frameworks. In agile frameworks the scrummaster/project manager is the first player selected for the team, he or she is involved in the early planning stages of a project. Many companies big and small appoint a project manager after the project begins and the project team is in place, try to pick the PM first before you progress too far.

As a scrummaster/project manager you must have inherent, universal competencies; traits that increase their ability to manage projects. Competencies are also related to specific projects as well as different development frameworks. In older development methodologies like waterfall many organizational decision-makers believed that the most qualified person to manage a project was a …

Scrummaster/Project Management Software Suppliers

Now you are ready to buy your software but you have to get one more round of answers to some questions and these might be the most important ones. You have to elicited response from software vendors and what should you expect from suppliers?

Explore Areas:
1.Study the history/demographics of the company.
Simply how long has the company been in business? (This is a stability question)
2.Get references.
Ask the company for references and visit sites that use the project management software you are interested in.
3.Obtain demonstration software.
Request a demonstration disk or ask the supplier if their Web site includes a demonstration version.
4.Check the documentation.
Inadequate documentation is a warning sign.
5.Obtain training.
Secure training directly from the project management software supplier or from a third party.
6.Join a user group.
Join a user group to leverage the software functionality.
7.Investigate future software releases.
What is coming in future releases.
8.Track News…

Scrummaster/Project Management Software Functionality

So you are going ahead with the purchase of Scrummaster/Project Management Software and it’s time for you and your team to evaluate potential software to purchase. I came up with a few criteria that you can add to your arsenal while evaluating software and more importantly the vendors that supply the applications.

1.Ease of installation and operation: make sure that you clearly identify and address the technical aspects of software installation, don’t forget to involve your technology department in your decision.
2.Different users/views: make sure your project management software has the right user-friendliness and online views for different levels of interest and sophistication towards different team members and the skill sets that they bring to the organization.
3.Security: data security is key here and make sure the functionality provides prompts when employees try to enter information.
4.Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): make sure the software can develop and store a WBS and integra…

Scrummaster/Project Management Software

The market for agile/project management software (list) is growing by leaps and bounds, since we started to implement the agile framework on our application development projects. You have to remember that the software is a tool, it is not and will never be a cure to eliminate your project's problems. Some PM’s resist in using it but in my experience most of the scrummasters/project managers use it, and they have had great results. Most of the time the first question you should ask is “Do I really need scrummasters/project manager software?"
Even throughout my career in IT, I have not run into many scrummasters/project managers that do not believe in the benefits of the software.

If I have they usually provide a few reasons like:

The project is too fast-paced (agile, scrum, XP) to keep updated, by the time I update something its already out of date.
Computer software will not identify what everyone already knows.
My documents during the meetings are good enough.
Project ma…