Friday, March 17, 2017

New Course - 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 managementyogi@gmail.com.





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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Course - 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 managementyogi@gmail.com.


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 managementyogi@gmail.com.


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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

PMP Success Story: A Valuable Certification for Project Management Practitioners

By Tina Maria Jose, PMP



Introduction
It is a pleasure to share my PMP journey with you. I hope this helps you to know on the certification process and also prepare for your certification. 

PMP Coaching Experience
It is mandatory to attend 35 contact hours on project management before you apply for the PMP exam.  My classes happened over two weekends in September 2016.

A friend who had attended Satya’s training there suggested I too enroll for the contact hours. I’m happy that I did just that. I would summarize the overall training experience as ‘Exceeds Expectation’. Satya is indeed a management Guru! He didn’t just go through the training materials and instead gave us lots of tips and tricks to crack the exam as well as additional reading materials which covers some of crucial topics in detail.  Passing the exam was very important to me, but I also wanted to deep dive into the concepts and apply them to my projects. So, I was impressed with the coaching. 

Satya has some unique study guides which helps you learn the process and process groups which he has also elaborated in his book – I Want To Be A PMP. I also suggest going through the articles in his blog. They are very informative.

My Study Plan
I wanted to give the exam the exam within a month. But, my application went into an audit. I lost around 3 weeks in the audit process. Also, I had some other work/travel commitments. Hence finally I ended up scheduling the exam on December 8, 2016. 

I would spend 3 -4 Hours daily on weekdays and 6-8 hours on weekends. It was hard to do with work commitments. I used to wake up early and set aside time for studying before tackling work emails. I couldn’t devote as much time I wanted to, but made it a point to do mock exams almost every day in November.  


PMI’s Audit process
My PMP application went for audit. I want to give my first-hand experience on the audit process. I believe it will help you - the readers. 

Once you fill all the required information online and submit the application, PMI will send you an email within 5 days asking you to make payment. You will not know if your application goes to audit until after you have made the payment. 

I was slightly disappointed to see the message - “Your application has been randomly selected for PMI's audit process.” after I made the payment.  But that’s how it is. You cannot avoid the audit as it’s a random process and anyone can be selected.

PMI will give you 90 days to submit your audit materials. Audit verifies the ones mentioned below.
  • Verifying Bachelor’s/equivalent university degree:  You just need to provide a photocopy of your certificate
  • Verifying your Project Management Experience:  Here you need to print the ‘Project management Audit Report’ (available in the audit link PMI sends you), send it to your reporting manager under whom you have worked for endorsing and signing. After they complete the form, they are required to place in an envelope, sign their name on the sealed flap of the envelope and return to you via in person or by post. 
  • Verifying 35 contact hours of Project Management Education: You just need to provide a photocopy of your certificate from the institute that provided training.

Once you have all these documents in place, put them together in a large envelope and mail it to PMI Global Operations Center, 14 Campus Blvd., Newtown Square, PA 19073-3299 USA. I opted for FedEx (can send by registered post as well) to complete the process quickly though it was costlier than registered post. 

If everything goes well, PMI will send you an email informing you have successfully met the requirements of PMI's audit process and asking you to schedule your examination.

Few Suggestions on PMI Audit
Keep your 35-contact hour certificate from a PMI Registered Education Provider ready.
Contact your current and previous bosses under whom you have worked. Inform them about your application and tell them that the PMI may contact them to verify your experience.

Books, I referred
  • PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition: I would suggest going through this 2-3 times at least. First time, it went over my head, but after the training I was able to correlative. The final reading was few days before the exam.
  • Other exam prep books followed: Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep (8th Edition), Andy Crowe’s – The PMP Exam (How to Pass in Your First Try), 5th Edition, J Le Roy and Ginger Levin’s Exam Practice Test and Study Guide (9th Edition), and Christopher Scordo's GREEN PMP Exam Prep Questions & Answers (2013 edition).
  • “I Want To Be A PMP, the plain and simple way” by Satya Narayan Dash: I was one of the first few persons to receive this book. 

Apps Referred
  • PMP exam prep 2017 Edition by Pocket Prep Inc: Has decent practice questions and tracks progress
  • PMPro® by Fast Track Ltd: Has Formulas, Flashcards, Glossary and ITTO along with practice questions
  • PMP Smart Exam Prep Practice Test & Study by Friendly App Studio: Has decent practice questions

My PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam on Dec 8 at the Prometric Center in Whitefield, Bangalore. I opted for the morning slot as I wanted to finish the exam at the earliest.  On the day of the exam, I reached the venue an hour early. I had not opted to check the venue beforehand as I knew the place. But if you are an anxious test giver, the center offers a “Test Drive” to familiarize yourself with what is expected on the test day. This dry run involves a fee and you can schedule it from the pro-metric website in advance.  

The exam is for 4 hours and quite taxing. I took a 5 min break every one hour. When you take a break, and return to the testing room, you would have to undergo a quick inspection to comply with their security protocol.

I had planned to finish all the questions in 3 hours and use the last one hour to go through the marked questions. But I ended up getting only around 20 min for the marked questions. Luckily that was enough as I had only about 15-16 questions I wanted to go through again. 

On Exam Questions
  • I got a number of questions from Integration management, specifically on closing process.
  • A number of questions were on change requests. 
  • Had questions on Critical Path Method (CPM). 
  • Had question on Earned Value Management (EVM). The Mathematical questions were relatively easy to answer.
  • Most Questions are situational and suggest you read them carefully as it. There are options to highlight the words in question as well as strike out invalid answers in the screen. I found this these quite helpful. 

I hit the submit button before the exam ended and was very happy to see Congratulations flashing on my screen. I got the hard copy of the certificate a week later by post.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
Dos:
  • Take the exam within 1-3 months after the training while the concepts are still fresh in your mind
  • Make your own handwritten notes as you go over various topics. This will help you remember what you learned and also will be a quick revision material before the exam
  • Make sure you practice lots of mock tests. 

On a final note, I also recommend a course on MS Project after your PMP Training, which I had taken from Satya. This is a valuable learning and will be enable you to plan, monitor and oversee projects to successful completion. 

Brief Profile 
I work with SAP as a Technology Consultant. I have over 11 years of Project Management, Quality Management and Consulting experience in BFSI and Retail domain.