What is Agile Project Management?
Agile project management is an adaptive method of product development. It takes into account the iterative and incremental approaches of developing and delivering products to the customer. The focus of agile project management is on value creation and customer centricity. The other important aspects of agile project management are: its responsive nature to the changing requirements, its progressive outlook toward software planning, and leadership shift from command & control to servant leadership.
The scope of some of the projects is well-defined and certain. The traditional or waterfall model of managing the projects is used in such scenarios. The scope of some of the projects is uncertain, ambiguous, volatile and complex. The very nature of agile project management makes it complimentary to execute such uncertain projects. Project Management is a vast subject and involves many new concepts, processes, and tools. This PMP Certification Training Program involves comprehensive class activities based on real-life scenarios to help you understand the concepts well so that you can answer the PMP exam questions well as well as use these in your job.
5 Phases In Agile project management
This phase can be considered equivalent to the initiating process group in traditional project management. It helps create vision for the project. The vision focuses on the customers and the stakeholders involved in the project. It covers the why, what, how, and who of the project. It defines the product vision, scope, constraints, delivery methodology, and the stakeholders.
This phase can be considered equivalent to the planning process group in traditional project management. This phase expands the envision phase and encourages brainstorming, critical thinking, creative thinking, and collaboration to plan the execution of the project. It translates the product vision into product roadmap, to release level planning and iteration level planning. It determines the workload, product features, estimation, risks, and delivery.
This phase can be considered equivalent to the executing process group in traditional project management. It focuses on following the release/iteration plan (as prepared in the previous phase 2 called Speculate) and delivering project features; more specifically delivering potentially shippable products.
This phase can be considered equivalent to the monitoring & controlling process group in traditional project management. This phase focuses on inspection, supervising, modifications, changes, and corrections in the project lifecycle. The phases Speculate, Explore and Adapt are regularly revisited in order to improve the product delivery and project execution in each and every iteration. This means reviewing actual results versus planned results. This phase covers the improvements needed which are integrated into the next iteration.
This phase can be considered equivalent to the Closure Process Group in traditional project management. Per the definition of a project given in PMBOK, it has a definite start and a definite end. The expectations of the customers are set at the onset of the project about the endpoint of the project. Not doing so would result in the perception issues among the customers which would result in unnecessary fall-outs. Doing it right, would help celebrate the success of the project. However, before the team ends the project, ensure to analyze all the key findings, knowledge gathered, and lessons learned and pass these along to the next team so that they can benefit.
Agile Mindset & Manifesto:
The agile project management methodologies like Extreme Programming, SCRUM, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development, Pragmatic Programming, were already existing before the agile movement was formalized in 2001 with the publication of the agile manifesto for agile software development.
The original seventeen authors signed a manifesto which contained 4 values and 12 principles. The manifesto stated that:
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
- The highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months
- Stakeholders and developers must collaborate on a daily basis
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- Face-to-face meetings are deemed the most efficient and effective format for project success
- A final working product is the ultimate measure of progress
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility
- Simplicity, maximizing the work not done, is an essential element
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly
As per agile practice guide of PMI, agile is a mindset defined by values, guided by principles, and manifested through many different practices.
Characteristics of Agile Life Cycle for product development
The creation of agile manifesto started to simply product development in software industry. However, the characteristics of agile methodologies have made its impact on almost all the industries. The agile way of managing projects is not restricted to software industry only. It is critical to understand that the following characteristics are intrinsic to all kinds of projects, whether they follow predictive or agile (adaptive) life cycles. The focus here is on the attributes specific to the project characteristics managed in agile manner. These characteristics and their attributes are mentioned below.
- Requirements: The projects which are managed in an agile manner have an intrinsic characteristic of dynamism. The requirements and eventually the scope change occur often and to incorporate such kind of changes, agile and adaptive methodologies are adopted.
- Activities: One of the other most important characteristics of agile project management that the activities are repeated until near perfect solution is achieved. This can be referred to as iterative approach of creating product.
- Delivery: The delivery of products/features in agile methodology is done frequently with incremental deliveries. This delivery is potentially shippable product. This is related to incremental way of delivering product.
- Goal: The goal of agile project management is to deliver value to the customers via frequent delivery by incorporating early feedback.
In general, agile life cycle uses the project characteristics of both iterative and incremental life cycles, i.e., the project team iterate to create the product incrementally. This ensures that the team gets the visibility of the project and gain early feedback from the customer.
There are three major roles defined in the agile way of managing projects.
- Cross Functional Team members: The cross functional teams are also called as the development teams and are the most critical. Agile teams comprise dedicated team members. Cross functional teams consist of team members with all the skills necessary to produce a working product. The cross functional development teams consist of professionals who deliver potentially releasable product in time-boxed frame. They deliver finished work in the shortest possible time, with higher quality, without external dependencies. The teams are mostly collocated or the team members have the ability to manage any challenges based on location. The teams consist of generalists and specialists and usually work in a stable environment. Agile teams are self-organizing and they themselves decide how to best accomplish their work for each sprint.
- Scrum Master: This role can also be associated with the role of servant leader. This can also be called a project manager, team lead, team coach, team facilitator, or process facilitator. The basic and foremost responsibility of this role is to remove impediments, blockers and barriers during the project execution. This ensures that the sprint stays on track by monitoring progress and facilitating meetings. The servant leaders become teams’ advocate and help them communicate with the stakeholders. All agile teams need servant leadership on the team. People need time to build their servant leadership skills of facilitation, coaching, and impediment removal.
- Product owner: The product owner represents the voice of customers or users. She helps define the product roadmap, backlog, release plans and goals of each iteration. She ranks the work based on the business value of the features and product. She acts like a lighthouse for guiding the direction of the product. She works with the teams daily by providing feedback and direction of future releases. Sometimes, she requests help from people with deep domain expertise, such as architects, or deep customer expertise, such as product managers. Product owners need to be trained on how to organize and manage the flow of work through the team.
Common Agile Ceremonies
The ceremonies in agile project management methodologies are events. Some of these events are planning-based and some of them are feedback-based events. The ceremonies are:
- Backlog Preparation: An ordered list of work in agile methodology is called as the backlog. This backlog is presented in story form so that the teams can understand it. The backlog preparation takes the form of progressive elaboration and in this agile way of managing project, there is no need to create all of the stories for the entire project before the work starts—only enough to understand the first release. Product owners might produce a product roadmap to show the anticipated sequence of deliverables over time. The product owner replans the roadmap based on what the team produces. The backlog preparation is one of the layers of the Agile Planning Onion; it is the third layer in the onion. In this, the strategy forms the topmost layer, followed by portfolio, product, release, iteration and daily.
- Backlog Refinement: The product owner works with the team to prepare some stories for upcoming iteration in the middle of the iteration. The reason for such meetings is to refine enough stories so the team understands these stories and compare them with other stories in the backlog. These meetings help the team understand the potential challenges or problems in the story. The teams can use spike to understand the risk. There is no consensus on how long the refinement should be.
- Daily Stand-ups: The ultimate goal of daily stand-up meetings is to ensure that all the members of the team are on the same understanding of the project and its progress. The members use this meeting to commit to each other, share problems, and ensure a smooth workflow. This meeting is timeboxed for no longer than 15 minutes. During this meeting, everyone answers the following questions:
- What did I complete since the last stand-up?
- What am I planning to complete between now and the next stand-up?
- What are my impediments (or risks or problems)?
It is the responsibility of the process owner to not let the daily stand-up meetings become status meetings. Besides this, let this meeting not become a problem solving event.
- Demonstrations/Reviews: This ceremony helps periodically demonstrate the working product to the customer. This event helps the team gain early feedback on the features (in the form of user stories) of the product. Since the product owner represents the voice of customers or uses, it is her responsibility to check the demonstration and either accept or reject the user stories. As a general guideline, demonstrations happen at least once every 2 weeks. Demonstrations help the teams to set in the right direction if they are progressing in the wrong direction. This becomes a basic component of agile projects (incremental delivery based on iteration/flow). The ceremony of demonstration/review refers to the principle # 7 of Agile Manifesto.
- Retrospectives: Principle # 12 of Agile Manifesto is: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.” Post demonstration/review ceremony, the iteration asks for a meeting which would help team understand the improvement areas, correction areas, and the behaviours, actions and work to keep for the next iterations. In general, the team looks back to learn, contemplate, improve and adapt to the best practices. Teams need to learn about the product and/or process. The meeting is all about looking at the qualitative (people’s feelings) data and quantitative (measurements) data to uncover the root causes, developing contingencies, mitigation strategies, and action plans.
The management of projects in agile manner reflects non-traditional ways of executing projects. It embodies the 4 values and 12 principles as laid down in the agile manifesto. The 5 ceremonies compliment the effective and efficient ways of delivering values to the stakeholders which in turn takes the holistic approach of 5 phases of agile project management.
About The Author
Techcanvass is an Information Technology certifications training Organization for professionals. It offers internationally recognized certifications in the fields of Project Management and Business Analysis. It is a premier Authorized training partner (ATP) of Project Management Institute (PMI), USA and a premier Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) of International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), Canada. Founded by IT professionals, Techcanvass is committed to making learning a more structured, practical and goal-oriented exercise. We also provide consulting services in the fields of Project management and Business Analysis.
How to Find the Best Shipping Company and Save Money on Shipping
Shipping is one of the most expensive things you will do in your life. It can be easy to find a cheap shipping company if you know where to look, but sometimes it is hard to find that perfect company and still save money. You should be aware of the Several factors that go into freight forwarding.
Some tips for finding the best shipping company include:
– Use Google’s advanced search feature, which can narrow down results based on your specific needs
– Check shipping rates on Amazon so you know what they cost before you get anything shipped
– Check reviews online to make sure people have a good experience with the company
– Make sure the company offers a good return policy
What is a Shipping Company?
A shipping company deals with the transport of goods from a point of origin to a destination.
Shipping companies are key for international trade and international business. This industry is dominated by a few large companies who control the global market share. In order to survive, these companies have to provide services at lower costs than their competitors.
It can also be thought as an organization that has been created for transport or logistics purposes in general. The specific type that ships goods is called “a freight forwarder” while other types include “transport brokers” and “logistics providers”. Freight forwarders are mostly concerned with movement.
How to Find the Best Shipping Company for You
We all know how important delivery of the product is. For businesses, it can be the difference between profits and losses.
But getting the product to your customers’ doors can be really expensive, especially when you are using shipping companies that don’t provide efficient services.
It can be difficult or expensive to figure out which shipping company is best for your needs. That’s why we created this guide on how to find the best shipping company for you!
What’s the Best Way of Shipping?
As ecommerce becomes an integral part of our lives, the desire to purchase goods online has increased. In an effort to save time and money, many people have chosen to ship their goods through a courier or postal service rather than using a shipping company.
Shipping or freight companies are not designed for individuals but for big businesses.. As such, they don’t provide individual services, like finding loads of people who want to send something or what is the cheapest way of shipping goods. To find these answers you would need to contact individual couriers and ask them about the shipping rates for your specific items.
As such, it leaves you with a lot of research and planning ahead of time which can be very time-consuming and difficult if you’re not familiar with what you’re looking for.
Some companies and organizations ship goods via a freight forwarder. This is the best way to ship your goods because they have connections to the shipping lines and provide discounts when you find loads to ship in bulk order. However, if you are looking for the cheapest way of shipping your goods, then you should consider using a freight forwarder. If you want to use an airfreight delivery service, then you need to make sure that they have enough experience with international shipments before signing up for their services.
This is typically determined by where your product is going as well as what type of container it needs to be shipped in.
Top 5 Duties You Should Ask Before Choosing a Shipping Company
As a business owner, you want to make sure that you and your company are in the best possible hands. That is why you should be sure that your chosen shipping company is going to do their job well for you.
Below are five important things that you should ask about a shipping company before hiring them.
– How long have they been in business?
– What type of experience do they have with shipping?
– What will their cost be?
– Are they insured and bonded?
– When are they available to ship my goods?
Conclusion: Start Using a Trusted Shipping Company Today to Save Money & Hipster Points
Shipping is a pain, and it can be expensive. It may not seem like a big deal when you are getting just one thing from Amazon, but when you’re sending out five items to your friends, it adds up. In order to save money, we have to think about all the things we buy online and being careful about what we purchase. Plus, when you do purchase something online and send it to someone else for free or cheap shipping, it’s just a nice gesture on your part.
To save money or even hipster points in the world of marketing today, companies need to use their shipping company of choice.
Best Ways to Keep Your Car Clean During Winter
Winter can be such a challenging time of the year for many a car owner. You are already struggling with winter. Now imagine your car suffering too due to corrosion from the salt on the road.
Consequently, keeping your car clean in winter can be a not so straightforward task. You imagine having to clean the vehicle and wipe off the snow from the windscreen only to come back tomorrow with more. You can also collect the various bug and tar remover for cars in the market.
It is, however, paramount that you keep your car clean in winter. That’s down to the snow sticking onto the undercarriage and exposing the vehicle to salt. We all know how corrosive salt can be.
So, what are some of the ways one can keep their car clean in winter? We have outlined a few ways here for your benefit.
Don’t Go to Work with Your Car
Absurd, isn’t it? But is there a better way to keep your car 100 percent clean? We bet there isn’t. If you have the option of using the bus to work or can carpool with a neighbor, why not try it?
It is often said it is better to prevent something than to remedy it. Why not then stop the car from getting dirty by leaving it at home?
You will avoid exposing the car to more dirt and, consequently, only have to do light cleaning. Who wouldn’t want that?
Don’t understand the relationship between driving safely and keeping the car clean? Picture drifting around at high speed on a snow-covered road sparking off snowstorms and other muck.
Results? The car gets a coating of salt, mud in addition to the snow and other muck. Such will give you a hell of a time cleaning. Yeah, yeah, we understand sometimes you might be late and need to cruise away, just don’t make it a habit.
Another way you can drive safely and keep your car clean is by driving a safe distance from the next vehicle. That will ensure the dirt the other cars kick up doesn’t fall on your car.
Use Rubber Mats Instead of Carpets
We understand carpets in your car add up some warmth for your feet. But imagine getting with all that snow and dirt on your feet, then stepping onto the carpet. It would be disastrous and might even lead to corrosion of the car’s steel bodywork.
If possible, cover the carpets with rubber mats. Rubber mats are considerably easier to wash, and dirt doesn’t stick too hard onto them.
Imagine the happiness you’ll get jumping into your car with your muddy shoes but not having to worry about the cleaning being difficult. Convenient, isn’t it?
Get that Protective Waxing
The part of your car most susceptible to damage due to the snow and dirt is the exterior. What with all that salt on the road that falls on the car surface as you speed away. That’s why you have to invest in protective waxing.
The waxing will coat the exterior and prevent corrosion from the salt that might fall onto the car. If done well, the waxing will last you well over three months.
Remember to do it in late autumn, however. That’s because it is easier to wax when it’s warm than when the weather is cold.
Wash the Car More Frequently
Are you they type of people who wash their car only when it gets really, really dirty? Well, if you’re to keep it clean in winter, you might have to cut back on that habit.
Try washing it after every few days, let’s say something like every ten days. Get the picture? A pressure washer will come in handy here as you will effortlessly wash away the snow fog and salt.
Remember to do it during the day so that the car gets enough time to dry. If you wash it in the evening, the temperature drop that occurs at night means the car won’t dry sufficiently.
Keeping your car clean in winter doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. Just follow the ways we have mentioned, and you will have your favorite machine in pristine condition each time. All the best.
Do employment background checks help create a better customer experience?
The customer is always right. If you’re a business owner you know that and you’ve probably told your employees a million times the customer should always be happy, or else they might take their business elsewhere. The problem is what can Australian business owners do to make sure this is always the case? Can background checks help with that?
The importance of pre-employment background checks
The employees are the face of your company, especially those who interact with your customers on a daily basis. Many Australian companies have strict dress codes for those employees who work directly with the customers, but looks aren’t everything.
To understand the importance of criminal police checks, let’s examine a hypothetical situation. Say you own a shoe store visited by hundreds of women of all ages every day.
What if one of your salespersons happens to be a guy with a history of sexual harassment? Can you even imagine what a nightmare experience one of your customers might have if that guy starts making inappropriate comments or touching her legs while presenting her with various pairs of shoes? Many women are afraid to say anything in such a situation because they might be ashamed of what just happened, but you can bet that customer will never set foot in your store again. And will tell all her friends to stay away.
Or let’s take another scenario, with an employee with a criminal record for various acts of violence. A short-tempered guy might easily become nasty if not downright violent with a demanding customer. Yes, some customers can be very difficult, but your staff should go out of their way to accommodate them because that’s how business works.
How to make police checks part of your hiring strategy
No business wants to be dragged into a public scandal and the only way to avoid that is to make sure your employees are not dangerous. One way of doing that is checking their criminal history.
To avoid awkward situations, you can write that down in the job ad. ‘Selected candidates will have to submit to a national police check or an ancc police check from a character check agency like ANCC’. They’ve been informed now and if, for some reason, they do not want to have a background check they’d better not apply for that position.
Should this question surface during the job interview, your hiring manager can explain the reasoning behind this decision – the company wants to avoid being dragged into a public scandal. Also, add that the company uses the services of an online character check agency, so this won’t inconvenience the candidate in any way.
Another argument is that should such a situation appear, it’s not just the employee at-fault who might be facing charges, but also the company for failing to ensure public safety. At the very least, the company might be sued for negligent hiring.
Knowing that a candidate doesn’t have a criminal record doesn’t guarantee they won’t be causing any sort of trouble in the future, but the risks are significantly lower.
Then you can look at other things you need to do to create the best possible experience for your customers, like providing regular training for your employees and having them permanently monitored.
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