Think you are Agile? ….how do you know?

I was recently involved in an organization that wanted to transition their software development teams to Agile since 2 of the teams had been doing 2-week iterations for over 6 months.  The problem was, that despite the manager yelling that they “were already Agile”, they were not delivering valuable and potentially shippable increments frequently nor consistently (iteration after iteration), nor were they adapting to changing priorities and customer needs along the way.

The essence of Agile is not whether or not a team is doing TDD or pairing or automated regression testing, (although I strongly believe they are all good practices and I evangelize them to all my clients).  Being Agile means delivering business value frequently and consistently while adapting to changing business needs.  No matter what practices are being followed, if you are not doing this then your not Agile.  That’s where assesments come in…

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WEBINAR SERIES – Business Driven Software Development

Business Agility enables an organization to respond quickly to external forces (such as new market opportunities and competitive forces) as well as to respond quickly to new insights attained internally.

While many organizations have achieved the local optimizations of more effective teams, few have achieved agility at the organizational level. Even when team agility has been achieved, if improvements to how the business is selecting their product enhancements isn’t done, overall return on investment of software development may not have significantly improved.

This series is organized around “roles” – Executives to Team Leads – so each person in an organization can be introduced to what “they” need to know to achieve business agility.

FREE Webinar Series – 7 sessions:

  • Session 1 – An Overview
  • Session 2 – Product Portfolio Management
  • Session 3 – Where to Start Your Agile Transition
  • Session 4 – Team Agility: Scrum or Kanban?
  • Session 5 – Essential Skills for the Agile Developer
  • Session 6 – Acceptance Test-Driven Development: Understand Requirements Up-Front
  • Session 7 – The Role of Management in Lean-Agile Transformations

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IT Contracting Growth in Jobs – 4% in 2010

I know that many of you are contractors/consultants like myself. So when I found a press release posted this week by Corp-Corp.com on the IT Consulting market [here], I just had to share and give IT PM’s and BA’s some hope for the coming year.  Corp-Corp.com reports there was a steady growth in 2009 that will continue into 2010.   A 4% growth to be exact.

With these types of reports I tend to focus on the obvious trends…

  • PM & BA skills “combined” are in the TOP 5 demanded

— PM & BA skills total 9% of the total IT jobs hired in 2009

— The top 5 skill-sets hired make up over 50% of the IT jobs in 2009

  • Demand for Project Management Skills

    • …was highest from June to September of 2009
    • Top States hiring PM’s are: CA, NJ,  NY, TX, and Pennsylvania – way to go if you are in one of those states !

  • Demand for Business Analyst Skills

    • …was highest starting just a little before PM’s (this is not surprising since BA work will preceed PM work especially in the contracting market)
    • Top States hiring BA’s are:  CA, NJ,  NY, TX, and Virginia – why VA -v- CA for PM’s?  who knows?

  • Top 10 states for consulting jobs are: CA, NJ, NY, TX, PA, IL, VA, MA, MN, GA

— California alone hires 13% of the PM’s and 14% of the BA’s in the USA

— All Top 5 states combined hire ~50% of the IT PM’s and BA’s in the USA.

** See the full report by Corp-Corp.com [here].

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2010 Trends in Project Management

2010 brings with it multiple trends for Project Management.   It is not surprising that many of these trends will help mature the world of project management as we know it today.  Just as businesses must be flexible with market conditions – Project Management professionals and organizations must also adapt accordingly.

In talking to industry leaders in Project Management – several trends stand out.

Economic conditions have changed – Companies are changing – and project managers must understand these changes to be the leaders needed in 2010.

Trend 1 – Enterprises continue to look for Efficiencies in Process & Technology

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Dealing With Difficult Sponsors

“Working with people is difficult, but not impossible”.

This is a great quote from Peter Drucker, a management expert.  Many people are “difficult” to deal with on our project teams, including nasty behavior patterns that sponsors have been seen doing.  Let’s empower you with some ways to deal with your own sponsors.

Yes, we all can be difficult at times.   We all do things that irk others.   And as a Project Manager, Business Analysis or Team Lead, it is so important to hone your soft people skills to deal with those difficult people on the team.   It is all about people anyways – isn’t it.   And your Sponsor is a very special person on the team that you have got to learn to work with to ensure success.   And yes, this situation brings some political challenges with it as well.

So lets talk about a few DIFFICULT sponsor situations and how you can deal with them.

SPONSOR #1 – shows up to meetings unannounced

  • Assume there is a good reason they popped in on your meeting.  Find out what on their mind that they caring about enough to join you for.
  • Be sure to share your Agenda with them when they pop in so they know you have things the team must discuss in this meeting.  Sponsors can pop in and often take over a meeting if you don’t keep an eye on things.   You want them to share with the team their thoughts..but ask them politely if you can talk about their topics after you cover the agenda topics.
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BOOK: The Software Requirements (Memory Jogger)

A handy guide by Ellen Gottesdiener.   This inch-thick “pocket book” is easy to carry around and browse through when a busy requirements analyst has a few minutes to spare.

Ellen addresses all aspects of the requirements engineering process:

  • elicitation,
  • analysis,
  • specification,
  • validation, and
  • management.

Each chapter contains a wealth of practical techniques that can help any software team improve how it deals with requirements.  She describes a plethora of requirements “models,” ways to represent different types of requirements-related information.

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