Friday, March 17, 2017

Agile Analytics

Summary: Recently, I had a presentation on Agile Analytics with one of my clients. Post the session, I had this realizaton - values, principles and practices that we interacted on can be put into a course so that it enables professionals to know better on Agile Analytics and apply them in Business (BI) Intelligence and Data Warehousing (DW) system development. This post elaborates on the course and topic of Agile Analytics.

Agile Manifesto has been available since 2001. There have been many frameworks or methods on Agile development and different bodies who promote them. Agile development has seen wide acceptance in software community. To be more specific, the highest use has been in application software development.  In addition, many lean approaches such as JIT/pull, visualization, continuous flow etc. have gone into, making it more of Lean/Agile development. 

Business intelligence (BI) and data warehouse (DW) systems have been available for years. It is based on a tiered structure – data source tier, integration tier, presentation tier and finally the analysis or analytics tier.  Development in traditional way takes enormous amount time. Many times, the systems are not used or even it used, customers tend to use few functions in-place of the entire set of functionalities delivered.  Professionals in BI/DW domain say big design upfront have to there, otherwise you will have problems later, e.g., once the data models have been developed it becomes very difficult to change.  It need not be the case with Agile Analytics. 

Agile Analytics is not a framework or method such as XP or Scrum. Rather it is a development approach. The main objective is to have valuable and working software frequently. It has a set of practices and guidelines, which helps us in doing so. 

Agile Analytics is based on a set of values and principles, mostly adapted from the Agile Manifesto. The practices used in here, have their roots in many other Agile and Lean frameworks. The practices are with respect to project management such planning, estimating, tracking, reporting and adapting as well various engineering practices such as database refactoring, ETL refactoring, adaptive data modelling among many others. 

This 2-day course on Agile Analytics covers both the management and engineering (which includes design, development, testing, release) practices in BI/DW domain. The practices are primarily derived from a gamut of Agile frameworks such as XP, Kanban, Scrum, Lean, FDD, TDD, ASD, Crystal, DSDM, but adapted for Agile Analytics.  

More details about the course: 
  • Agile Analytics - Course Overview (Link)
  • Agile Analytics - Course Agenda (Link)
  • Agile Analytics - Course Benefits (Link)
  • Agile Analytics - Who Can Attend (Link)

The course details are available in the Agile page. The agenda of the course is embedded into the post. In total, 10 modules will be covered exhaustively in 2 days.

For a detailed breakdown of the course content and coverage, send a mail to

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM

Summary: I meet a number of management professionals - from project/team leads to VPs to entrepreneurs, who lead/execute projects in their organizations. When I speak of Agile in courses such as Agile PMP, PMI-ACP, many questions come on transitioning. Well, explicitly it may not be worded so, but questions are actually on that. The questions raised are all valid – I’ll do the same in their shoes. This post is about transitioning to be an Agile PM (Project Manager) and talks of a specific course (case study driven) developed for this need. 

While going for agile development, the technical team wants (and in fact many times quite enthusiastic) to get in quickly. One of the main reasons, at the risk sounding a bit tough, is this: no one is going to tell the developers or designers or testers on various tasks assignments! But, reality is - the team falters, at least in initial few iterations.

The team is expected to be self-organizing and self-managing. That is not an easy thing to do. So, the project managers or scrum masters take the burden of it initially, guide and lead the team till the team is really self-organizing and self-directing. Other than that, there many practices which are uniquely Agile - value driven development and delivery, refactoring, technical debt, user stories, velocity,  burndown reporting, frequent retrospectives, introspection, loop learning. Even a simple sounding agile practice - iterative and incremental - is misunderstood by many! And again, sounding as the odd man out, I know many instances these do not happen at all.  

Also, the managers, who are answerable to the executives, have to provide executive reports, have to follow on government or regulatory compliance etc. and have to show results. 

Here are some questions that I’ve come across in last couple of months:
  1. You say plans are not important. But then you say, you are delivering on features in every iteration. What exactly happens to the project management plan? Do you have any plan at created?
  2. Is there a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Agile? If not, how will you know what are you delivering against? 
  3. You say everyone in the team participates in estimation. Well, it need not be that way. Not everyone knows on every other feature. People have domain expertise. Why waste the time of others, who know little to nothing about the feature?
  4. You say “Just Barely Sufficient” documentation. How about the executives? They ask about the reports! What kind of reports and reporting is there in Agile?
  5. Is there any chartering process? You are saying individuals and interactions are important than processes. What happens to the project charter?
  6. Your estimation approach on relative sizing is distinct and unique. But at the end of the day people spend time in hours. The clock runs in hours – not in story points! How exactly are you going track?
Projects and project management have been there for quite some time, across industry verticals.  Agile development is well fit in industries where product work is complex, uncertain and goes through a lot of changes.

Transitioning  to a new role is not easy. It takes time, patience and most importantly a mindset change. 

This 2-day course in “Transitioning from Traditional Project Manager (PM) to Agile Project Manager”, will give you a solid base on Agile related principles and practices - covering multiple frameworks/methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, XP, Lean, FDD, ASD, Crystal, DSDM and others. You will know on transition to agile environment and how to create plans, monitor, track and adapt in your project and continuously improve upon it. 

More details about the course: 
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - Course Overview (Link)
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - Course Agenda (Link)
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - Course Benefits (Link)
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - Who Can Attend (Link)
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - FAQ (Link)

The course details are available in the Agile page. The agenda of the course is embedded into the post. All the modules of this course are based on two simple questions.

1. What I did then (as a traditional PM)?
2. What I have to do now (as an agile PM)?

For a detailed breakdown of the course content, send a mail to

Monday, March 13, 2017

Step by Step Guide - JIRA 7.3 for Lean/Agile Development

Content Summary: Many management professionals, while going through the course on Agile with JIRA, find local installation of the software useful. I tend to agree. This gives them a lot of flexibility to experiment and learn. In this post, I'll elaborate a complete step by step download of JIRA Server, its installation and set up. Also, post set-up, we will see the creation of Scrum and Kanban projects with Atalassian JIRA. 

Atlassian's JIRA is a widely used Agile/Lean project management tool for Scrum or Kanban development. JIRA was earlier quite known as a bug tracking and issue management tool. In recent years with enhancements on this software, it has seen wide usage as a tool for agile/lean based development. 

While taking my sessions on Agile with hands-on tools such as JIRA, I encourage management professionals and team members to work with the tool by installing as it teaches many things. Otherwise, there is a cloud edition, on which you can also learn. But many professionals want to install and test the software on their own. Here you have both the server and client sides of the JIRA software. It is not that difficult to install and run the software. 

The embedded document in this post covers in detail explanation of all the steps involved to download, set-up, run and create Scrum  or Kanban related projects. Post it, you can use the courses on them, to have deeper understanding. The steps outlined in the documents are:

  • Step - 1: Downloading JIRA Server 7.3.x
  • Step - 2: Installing JIRA
  • Step - 3: Launching and Configuring JIRA
  • Step - 4: Creating a Scrum Project 
  • Step - 5: Creating a Kanban Project 
  • Step - 6: Learning with Courses on JIRA Agile

The software used for JIRA server is 7.3.2 and the operating system used is Windows 10. The document is exhaustive - lists step by step what you have to do to download, install and run the JIRA software. Next, the document tells you on how to can create Scrum projects and Kanban projects with JIRA. 

The document is also available for viewing (complete) in PDF format - Link. (one link)

If you want to have a PDF copy of it separately,write an e-mail to

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