Individually, each boy is a project. Together they're a program to be managed.

Individually, each boy is a project. Together they’re a program to be managed.

Scaling Agile project management to large, complex endeavors requires an Agile Program Manager to address the big picture coordination of programs.  Program management is the discipline of coordinating and managing large efforts comprised of a number of parallel and related projects. Scrum leverages a concept called the Scrum of Scrums to perform many of the activities need for program management.  Agile Program Management is not just repurposed project management or a part-time job for a Scrum Master.

Agile Program Managers coordinate and track expectations across all projects under the umbrella of the program, whether the projects are using Agile or not. Coordination includes activities like identifying and tracking dependencies, tracking risks and issues and communication. Coordination of the larger program generally requires developing a portfolio of moving parts at the epic or function level across all of the related projects (epics are large user stories that represent large concepts that will be broken down later). Agile Program Managers layer each project’s release plans on top of the program portfolio to provide a platform for coordinated release planning. Techniques like Kanban can be used for tracking and visualizing the portfolio.  Visualization show how the epics or functions are progressing as they are developed and staged for delivery to the program’s customers.

Facilitating communication is one the roles of an Agile Program Managers. The Scrum of Scrums is the primary vehicle for ensuring communication.  The Scum of Scrums is a meeting of the all of the directly responsible individuals (DRIs) from each team in the program. The DRI has the responsibility to act as the conduit of information for his or her team to the Agile Program Manager and other DRIs. The DRI raises issues, risks, concerns and needs. In short, the DRI communicates to the team and the Scrum of Scrums. The Scrum of Scrums is best as a daily meeting of the DRIs chaired by the Agile Program Manager, however the frequency can be tailored to meet the program’s needs.  A pattern I have seen used to minimize overhead is varying the frequency of the Scrum of Scrums based on project risk.

Another set of activities that generally fall to the Agile Program Manager is the development and communication of program status information. Chairing high-level status meetings, such as those with sponsor or other guidance groups, is a natural extension of the role. However this requires the Agile Program Manager to act as a conduit of information by transferring knowledge from the Scrum of Scrums to the sponsors and back again. Any problem with information flow can potentially cause bad decisions and will affect the program.

It is important to recognize that Agile Program Management is more than a specialization within the realm of project management or a side job a Scrum Master can do in his or her spare time.  Agile Program Managers need to be well versed in both Agile techniques and in standard program management techniques because the Agile Program Manager is a hybrid from both camps. Agile Program Managers build the big picture view that a portfolio view of all of the related projects will deliver. They also must facilitate communication via the Scrum of Scrums and standard program status vehicles.  The Agile Program Manager many times must straddle the line between both the Agile and waterfall worlds.

Listen to the Software Process and Measurement Cast 292. SPaMCAST 292 features our interview with Dr. Ginger Levin. Dr. Levin and I discussed her book, Implementing Program Management: Templates and Forms. Dr Levin and her co-author Allen Green wrote their go-to reference for program practitioners, colleges, universities, and those sitting for the PgMP. Ginger provides great advice for program managers who are interested in consistently delivering value to their clients.
Note the audio is not perfect this week however the content is great. I hope you can stay with the interview!
Dr. Ginger Levin is a Senior Consultant and Educator in project management with over 45 years of experience. Her specialty areas are portfolio management, program management, the PMO, metrics, and maturity assessments. She is a PMP, PgMP (second in the world), and an OPM3 Certified Professional. She presents regularly at PMI Conferences and conducts numerous seminars on various topics. She is the editor, author or co-author of 20 books focusing on program management, portfolio management, the PMO, virtual teams, and interpersonal skills and is a book series editor for CRC Press. She has managed programs and projects of various sizes and complexity for public and private sector organizations. She is an Adjunct Professor at SKEMA University in Lille, France, in its doctoral program in project management and also for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in its masters program in project management. Dr. Levin received her doctorate in Information Systems Technology and Public Administration from The George Washington University and the Outstanding Dissertation Award for her research on large organizations. Please see: linkedin.com/in/gingerlevin

Buy your copy of Implementing Program Management: Templates and Forms NOW!

Thanks for the feedback on shortening the introduction of the cast this week. Please keep your feedback coming.  Get in touch with us anytime or leave a comment here on the blog. Help support the SPaMCAST by reviewing and rating it on iTunes. It helps people find the cast. Like us onFacebook while you’re at it.

Upcoming Events

ITMPI Webinar!
On June 3 I will be presenting the webinar titled “Rescuing a Troubled Project With Agile.” The webinar will demonstrate how Agile can be used to rescue troubled projects. Your will learn how to recognize that a project is in trouble and how the discipline, focus, and transparency of Agile can promote recovery. Register now!

Upcoming DCG Webinars:
June 19 11:30 EDT – How To Split User Stories
July 24 11:30 EDT – The Impact of Cognitive Bias On Teams
Check these out at www.davidconsultinggroup.com

I look forward to seeing or hearing all SPaMCAST readers and listeners at all of these great events!

The Software Process and Measurement Cast has a sponsor.
As many you know I do at least one webinar for the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute (ITMPI) every year. The ITMPI provides a great service to the IT profession. ITMPI’s mission is to pull together the expertise and educational efforts of the world’s leading IT thought leaders and to create a single online destination where IT practitioners and executives can meet all of their educational and professional development needs. The ITMPI offers a premium membership that gives members unlimited free access to 400 PDU accredited webinar recordings, and waives the PDU processing fees on all live and recorded webinars. The Software Process and Measurement Cast some support if you sign up here. All the revenue our sponsorship generates goes for bandwidth, hosting and new cool equipment to create more and better content for you. Support the SPaMCAST and learn from the ITMPI.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here.
Available in English and Chinese.

Listen to the Software Process and Measurement Cast 280. SPaMCAST 280 features our interview with Mark C. Bojeun, author of Program Management Leadership: Creating Successful Team Dynamics (Kindle version). Mark makes a very strong case that project and program managers can impact team culture and dynamics. The team’s culture is directly linked to productivity, quality and morale.

Mark’s Bio

Dr. Bojeun has more than 20 years experience in providing strategic management and leadership through portfolio, project and program management. His experience includes developing and managing multi-million dollar portfolios, programs and projects, facilitating the achievement of strategic objectives, and creating best practice processes for program and project management efforts. Dr. Bojeun has designed and implemented multiple Enterprise Program Management Offices (EPMOs) for domestic and multinational firms and has extensive experience in organizational change management through transformational leadership, strategic support and staff empowerment to management professionals in the development and implementation of organizational vision, mission, objectives, and goals.

Dr. Bojeun holds a Program Management Professional (PgMP), Project Management Professional (PMP) and Risk Management (PMI-RMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI), is a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD), and has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, an MBA from George Mason University and a PhD in Organizational Leadership.

Dr. Bojeun’s new book, Program Management Leadership: Creating Successful Team Dynamics as part of CRC Publishing’s Best Practices and Advances in Program Management Series addresses the need for effective leadership styles in managing programs and projects achieving high performing teams that consistently exceed expectations.

Over the last ten years, Dr. Bojeun has provided commercial training courses in all aspects of Program and Project management and has been an Adjunct Professor for a number of universities.  Dr. Bojeun is currently an Adjunct Professor at Strayer University where he actively teaches business, logistics and project management courses for both undergraduate as well as graduate students. In addition, he provides motivational presentations to leaders throughout the world.

Contact Mark on LinkedIn or email at mark.bojeun@dc.gov

Get in touch with us anytime or leave a comment here on the blog. Help support the SPaMCAST by reviewing and rating it on iTunes. It helps people find the cast. Like us on Facebook while you’re at it.

Next week we will feature our essay on value chain mapping. Value is generated through the transformation of raw materials into a new form, which is represented by a value chain. Driving effective change requires an understanding of your organization’s value chain.

Upcoming Events

March 18
Agile Philly March Meeting:
I am speaking at Agile Philly’s March 18th meeting on the topic of Function Points. The meeting begins at 630 PM EST – 830 in King of Prussia, PA – Details at http://www.agilephilly.com/events/function-points

ISMA 9
I will be attending the International Function Point Users Group conference and workshops in Madrid, Spain on March 27th with workshops on March 25th and 26th.
More information

QAIQuest 2014
I will be facilitating a ½ Day tutorial titled Make Integration and Acceptance Testing Truly Agile. The tutorial will wrestle with the flow of testing in Agile projects and will include lots of practical advice and exercises. Remember that Agile testing is not waterfall done quickly. I will also be around for the conference and look forward to meeting and talking with SPaMCAST readers and listeners.  More confernce information   ALSO I HAVE A DISCOUNT CODE…. Email me at spamcastinfo@gmail.com or call 440.668.5717 for the code.

StarEast
I will be speaking at the StarEast Conference May 4th – 9th in Orlando, Florida.  I will be presenting a talk titled, The Impact of Cognitive Biases on Test and Project Teams. Follow the link for more information on StarEast

I look forward to seeing all SPaMCAST readers and listeners at all of these great events!

The Software Process and Measurement Cast has a sponsor.

As many you know I do at least one webinar for the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute (ITMPI) every year. The ITMPI provides a great service to the IT profession. ITMPI’s mission is to pull together the expertise and educational efforts of the world’s leading IT thought leaders and to create a single online destination where IT practitioners and executives can meet all of their educational and professional development needs. The ITMPI offers a premium membership that gives members unlimited free access to 400 PDU accredited webinar recordings, and waives the PDU processing fees on all live and recorded webinars. The Software Process and Measurement Cast some support if you sign up here. All the revenue our sponsorship generates goes for bandwidth, hosting and new cool equipment to create more and better content for you. Support the SPaMCAST and learn from the ITMPI.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here.

Available in English and Chinese.

Can you aim a silver bullet?

Can you aim a silver bullet?

Scrum is not a silver bullet.  Having observed the aftermaths of a number of  less than fully successful Scrum implementations, I have identified a few general problems that can plague Scrum implementations. But, none of these problems are insurmountable. Here are some pitfalls associated with Scrum implementations:

  • Over Selling:  IT departments are just as susceptible to silver bullet thinking as any other profession.  Examples include CASE (computer-aided software engineering), OO (object oriented design), CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) and many others.  Each of these tools or techniques has delivered value to IT organizations, but none have been able to solve all IT’s problems.  In the marketing hype introducing the next big thing it is easy to forget that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to a problem.  The hype heaped on Agile in general and Scrum specifically can lead to excessive expectations that can’t be met.  Overly ambitious expectations leads to poor planning as organizations rush towards perceived value, attempting to implement Scrum without addressing organizational change or even without developing an initial backlog of the changes needed for the implementation. Implement Scrum with your eyes wide open. Get introduced to organizations that have made the shift and benchmark against them.  Implement Scrum using Scrum, embracing incrementalism and feedback loops. Finally, participate in the broader Scrum and Agile communities so that you hear the stories of successes and failures.
  • Organizational Design:  A related problem is that of organizational design. Scrum and most Agile frameworks leverage cross-functional teams as a delivery vehicle.  The formation of functional cross-functional, self-managed teams requires that an organization have a different perspective and different management structures than the classic matrix organization.  For example, in the classic matrix organization, when work is identified a team is assembled to address the work.  Different types of work require different capabilities; therefore the team changes to meet the work.  In a Scrum implementation, the work is brought to the team that has the capability to address business needs rather than creating teams to address the work.  Implementing Scrum (or any Agile framework) requires addressing organizational design by creating teams and then developing the self-knowledge need to understand each team’s capabilities, so that work can be fed to the teams rather than forming teams to address work.
  • Scaling: Scaling is the other oft mentioned problem with Scrum. Programs, because of their size, almost always cut across organizational boundaries. That can make communication difficult.  Communication difficulties are a reflection of problems scaling a framework.  The first tool for scaling is the Scrum-of-Scrums, which is a meeting much like the daily scrum between representatives from each Scrum team in a program.  I typically recommend that the frequency of the Scrum-of-Scrum meeting be driven by the current level of program risk (high risk equates to a more frequent meeting).  Other scaling techniques require tackling potentially difficult technological issues, such as ensuring that an integration environment exists so that the system can be assembled and tested at least daily (think of this as an overall daily build) or the acceptance of sprints dedicated to integrated testing.

Implementing Scrum requires hard decisions about how an organization is designed and how it will accept and perform work. Scrum works best when organizations embrace cross-functional teams and then provide technical environments where work can be assembled and tested on as nearly a continuous basis as possible.

The Great Wall of China was a program.

The Great Wall of China was a program.

Scaling Agile project management to large, complex endeavors requires an Agile Program Manager to address the big picture coordination of programs.  Program management is the discipline of coordinating and managing large efforts comprised of a number of parallel and related projects. Scrum leverages a concept called the Scrum of Scrums to perform many of the activities need for program management.  Agile Program Management is not just repurposed project management or a part-time job for a Scrum Master.

Agile Program Managers coordinate and track expectations across all projects under the umbrella of the program, whether the projects are using Agile or not. Coordination includes activities like identifying and tracking dependencies, tracking risks and issues and communication. Coordination of the larger program generally requires developing a portfolio of moving parts at the epic or function level across all of the related projects (epics are large user stories that represent large concepts that will be broken down later). Agile Program Managers layer in each project’s release plans on top of the program portfolio to provide a platform for coordinated release planning. Techniques like Kanban can be used for tracking and visualizing the portfolio.  Visualization show how the epics or functions are progressing as they are developed and staged for delivery to the program’s customers.

Facilitating communication is one the roles of an Agile Program Managers. The Scrum of Scrums is the primary vehicle for ensuring communication.  The Scum of Scrums is a meeting of the all of the directly responsible individuals (DRIs) from each team in the program. The DRI has the responsibility to act as the conduit of information for his or his team to the Agile Program Manager and other DRIs. The DRI raises issues, risks, concerns and needs. In short, the DRI communicates to the team and the Scrum of Scrums. The Scrum of Scrums is best as a daily meeting of the DRIs chaired by the Agile Program Manager, however the frequency can be tailored to meet the project needs.  A pattern I have seen used to minimize overhead is varying the frequency of the Scrum of Scrums based on project risk.

Another set of activities that generally fall to the Agile Program Manager is the development and communication of program status information. Chairing high-level status meetings, such as those with sponsor or other guidance groups, is a natural extension of the role. However this requires the Agile Program Manager to act as a conduit of information by transferring knowledge from the Scrum of Scrums to the sponsors and back again. Any problem with information flow can potentially cause bad decisions and will affect the program.

We will explore the role of the Agile Program Manager in detail. For now, it is important to recognize that the Agile Program Management is more than a specialization within the realm of project management or a side job a Scrum Master can do in his or her spare time.  Agile Program Managers need to be well versed in both Agile techniques and in standard program management techniques because the Agile Program Manager is a hybrid from both camps. Agile Program Managers build the big picture view that a portfolio view of all of the related projects will deliver. They also must facilitate communication via the Scrum of Scrums and standard program status vehicles.  The Agile Program Manager many times must straddle the line between both the Agile and waterfall worlds.