Dr. Stephanie Pucket
In this conversation Dr. Stefanie shares about her work, experiences, insights her books and Psychology4Agility with Abrachan Pudussery, Director at the Project Management Research Institute and Wrench Academy
Till yesterday, when people anxiously asked me about the changes in PMBOK7, my reply was in the form of another question – ‘Can you execute a project without any one of the knowledge areas (listed below)?’. The answer is a unanimous ‘No’. So they are inevitable. They have to be there in the new version hidden somewhere. If you can master the 10 knowledge areas and their application in both predictive and agile project management, you are pretty much done with project management. That is my view.
I am glad that my views hold good after going through all the 370 pages of the new PMBOK7.
The Ten Knowledge Areas evolved from Version 1 to Version 6 of the Project Management Body of Knowledge;
These are immortal. Projects cannot succeed without them. The sequences may vary.
The PMBOK7 looks like an apex manual explaining the;
PMBOK7 comprises of 12 principles, 8 performance domains, tailoring guidelines and the models, methods and artifacts contained in a digital library ‘PM Standards Plus’ maintained by PMI. The immediate thought can be, about the 10 knowledge areas, 5 process groups, 49 processes and the inputs, tools & techniques and the outputs of the PMBOK6. Where is the place for them in the PMBOK7. All of that is under the digital library ‘PM Standards Plus’. In essence, nothing is lost during the transition from PMBOK6 to PMBOK7, and at the same time 12 principles, Eight project performance domains and the tailoring guidelines sits on top of the digital library PMStandards Plus which is nothing but the PMBOK6 contents, that makes up the 10 knowledge areas evolved from version 1.0 till 6.
How will this impact the different stakeholders who comprise the project management community?
Abrachan Pudussery (Aby)
Project Management Domain Expert, Wrench Academy
Projects are neither completely predictive nor agile any more. They are hybrid in nature. That is the reality. So far, project management had two distinct streams, the Adaptive (Agile) and the Predictive (traditional). The purists believed in any one of the streams. They are busy justifying their views. Now, the industry has changed. Irrespective of the type of work, majority are working from home and that demands adoption of both agile and predictive best practices in the day to day work. That trend is here to stay. The Project Management Institute (PMI) was the front runner in this by including Agile in the Project Management Body of Knowledge four years back. This was followed by the new Scrum Guide 2021, which has become more generic. Scrum is the most popular among the Agile frameworks because of it’s adaptability to various disciplines of project management. According to Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the founders of Scrum, they made the Scrum Guide 2021 more generic so that it becomes easier for all types of projects to adopt it. The trend is very clear. The boundaries between agile and predictive is vanishing, if not yet vanished.
Unfortunately, when I visited the Agile Manifesto Page, it still reads as ‘Agile manifesto for developing software’. From an EPC project practitioner’s perspective this is very demotivating. The engineering phases of any EPC project is a good candidate for agile adoption, but still the agile manifesto is maintained exclusively for software development. Like every other EPC person wanting to leverage agile I feel stranded and unsupported.
These two factors leads to the need for the Hybrid Project Management Manifesto;
As practitioners of Professional Project Management, We believe that; All projects are unique in nature, Tailoring the processes, by incorporating the best from every project management framework is better for project success, than relying on any single framework. For this; We will continuously update our knowledge and skills without any bias to any one particular project management framework, We will always maintain an independent open view in all our actions to ensure project success. I am very optimistic about this, because there are many who opposes this view as well as those support this view. It is high time we stopped saying ‘Agile Vs Waterfall’, instead we must learn to say ‘Agile and Waterfall’ and for that the apt word is 'Hybrid'. Thanks to the traditionalists who contributed us with great tools like the critical path analysis, earned value management and the likes. These are time tested concepts which is here to stay. The agile practices like time boxing, the short term planning, daily team meetings, self organizing teams can be effectively used within phases of every project. That will result in a healthy co-existence. Think of burn down charts co-existing with earned value management and helping to protect the earned value. Nothing is good or bad, the project context determines it’s suitability.
Hope Hybrid manifesto will help us to focus on the project’s success than worrying about the technicalities of frameworks.
The Hybrid manifesto is evolving. You can help with your suggestions.
Domain Expert at Wrench Solutions
In today’s fast changing world we cannot escape from the fact that business requirements change very often. If we use the predictive, heavy weight methodologies for developing software it is very difficult to incorporate the changing business needs of our customers. Lightweight software development methodologies, which appeared in the late nineties “embrace changes”. The disciplined adaptive nature of these methodologies helps us to easily accommodate changing business needs of our customers, even in later part of the development cycle.
Many software development organizations are using agile development methodologies like Scrum as it helps the organizations to respond to changing business environments very quickly and provide better customer satisfaction. In today’s business environment it is not really the big that win the battles rather it’s the fast that win the battles over the slow. Time to market is very important in today’s fast changing world. Agile development helps us to deliver the value to the customer rapidly through a divide and conquer approach and prioritization. The right 20% of effort will yield 80% of the value, so we do a lot of those in agile development and extreme testing.
Introduction to Agile
In Scrum the whole development is divided into different increments/sprints. Top priority user stories are covered in the initial sprints. Unit tests are developed first as a best practice. Then the code is written to ensure that 100% of unit tests pass. This is done in an incremental way. The developers write unit tests and 100% of Unit tests are automated. This will help in executing the tests repeatedly and also simplify the reporting of results.
There is one more important type of testing involved in agile testing, which is called Acceptance Test/Customer Test. These tests are written, based on User stories. They are formal tests conducted to determine whether or not a system satisfies its acceptance criteria and to enable the customer to determine whether or not to accept the system. Test engineers write the Acceptance tests with the help of customers in some organizations. It is very important to understand the customer perspectives while writing the acceptance tests. The big mountain acceptance tests are automated using an appropriate tool and executed on all the builds. Agile testing creates confidence that code is complete and it works; catches integration defects when they are first created, and, most importantly, provides confidence that a maintenance change did not introduce a regression error.
Basic values like open communication, tight feedback loop in the scrum teams, simplicity and courage are the key in scrum teams. In scrum, testing isn’t a final hurdle it is a journey along the full development cycle.
Areas to Focus
While building a distributed agile team we need to consider multiple factors. If we don’t build the right team for Agile it is going to be very tough to get the results. Open Communication is one of the key values in agile development.
Individuals and Interactions
If your existing team is to be transformed into an Agile team the most important step is to evangelize the agile concepts and benefits in your team. Management and Development teams also need to be educated on the ROI(Return On Investment). When we were implementing Agile in our organization we used to conduct talks by practitioners on agile, play agile dramas depicting the outcome from monumental methodologies and light methodologies. Once the platform is set we can start implementing agile practices and values. We need to identify and prioritize which are the areas to focus on first for the team. We may need to refactor the team. If there are team members in your team with a negative attitude or having an attitude to resist changes, then proper guidance needs to be given to them to bring in the change. If there are no improvements, it is a good idea to move them to a different project. Agile talks about “tossing off” the code at the end of the day if it doesn’t serve the purpose. This is applicable for team members also. Don’t try to patch it up too much…
While recruiting new members to an agile team we need to ensure that they have the right set of attitudes and skills in line with the agile way of working. Openness, ready to give and accept feedback, simplicity, courage, adaptability, good in communication, right skill mix …these are some of the attributes we need to ensure in a new hire. If you are planning to hire it is a good idea to have a brief discussion about agile practices you follow in your organization during the interview. Once they are hired we need to evangelize agile among them. In some cities we may not get engineers who worked in agile earlier. Transforming an engineer who has been working in monumental methodologies to an agile environment is not that easy. It’s a big paradigm shift. There may be resistance to change. We need to plan our inductions in such a way that the returns of Agile are communicated to the new hires appropriately. Once they understand the synergy it gives to customers and the organization employees will start believing in this new model. Once this milestone is covered it is easy to evangelize the other agile practices we follow in our organization.
Like the “pair programming” concept in Agile mentoring also can be done through pairing. A new hire is paired with a senior engineer who is in the team for more than 1 year. A high level introduction about the product is given to the new hire. After that during the sprint the new hire pair up with other team members according to the plan laid out by the Coach. The mentoring plans always focus on big mountain functionalities first.
When a groupWhen group of people works together in internationally distributed locations, there is great need to communicate with each other, share data and share expensive resources. Building a good communication mechanism is very important for the success of agile testing. Conversation with developer, customer, and feature team leads and product manager is frequent. Daily Stand up meetings with the scrum teams helps to build the relationships among the teams. All the Agile team members including developers, test engineers, documentation experts, product managers and DevOps assemble in the morning (usually on a planned fixed time like 10am) for a short stand up meeting of 5 to 10 minutes duration. Plan for the day and top priority unresolved issues from the previous days work is communicated to the team. This meeting is not for resolving the issues or detailed discussion. Resolutions are taken later after the meeting. If we are working in a distributed model where the development is happening in the US and the testing is in India or some part of the feature team is in a remote location like India and China, Communication and the feedback loop get badly affected. Tailored agile for these kinds of offshore development can be called as “Distributed Agile”. Collaboration among testers, programmers, and other stakeholders is more highly valued on agile projects than details of process, practices, or tools. Test engineers are part of scrum teams. Agile methods ask teams to continually evaluate how to improve group interaction, for the benefit of the project.
Once we have decided the members of the scrum team, building the team is the first priority. We need to plan for internal and external team building activities initially. We can also do a lot of informal interactions and get together … like all feature team members having evening snacks together in the snacks parlor.
Video calls, Chat, email , lightweight documentations , phone calls etc.. can be used for constant communications. We can plan for weekly meetings with members of the scrum team who are in the remote location. It is a good idea to have all the scrum team members participate in this meeting. Frequent conversations between the remotely located team members is a good practice. This will help us to build relationships. We need to agree on the overlap timings when the video calls can happen as most of the time one of the engineers will be at home because of the time zone differences. Engineers traveling in both directions frequently (2-3 travels per quarter) and working with the remote team for 3-4 weeks will enhance the relationships. This will help us for better culture sync. These ambassadors ensure there is enough osmosis within the distributed feature team.
Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
Jim McCarthy said that, “The regular build is the single most reliable indicator that a team is functional and a product is being developed.” This is very much true in the case of a distributed agile team. We need to ensure that we have good CI/CD practices in our organization where the latest builds are easily available for the test teams. This will help the test teams to run their test on the latest code. We need to automate the big mountain acceptance tests using appropriate tools. This will help us to test often and communicate the progress to the feature teams.
Frequent demos of the current status of the features to the entire feature team is very important. It is a good idea to have such demos weekly once. Demos can be arranged for remote teams on Fridays and we can have a group test after that where the entire feature team tests the latest build with a focus on new features. These demos can be recorded and uploaded to a common repository. Later if some of the team members want to go through the demo they can always replay it from the common repository. During the initial milestones where the top priority features are developed we can use build mechanisms like “sandbox” where the developers check in their new code as and when the unit test passes into a sandbox build maintained by the feature team. Test engineers can always use this build for testing the new features. As we are going to give feedback on working software rather than on design documents or requirement documents the feedback inputs will have more value. Development engineers can incorporate the feedback back into the sandbox the next day. At the end of the week all the new code checked in by the feature team in the sand box (which is tested and feedback incorporated) can be checked into the main line code. If we are working in distributed agile we may need to document some of the important changes. We can use wiki or google doc etc… for maintaining these kinds of knowledge bits.
To build an effective testing team for Distributed agile we need to focus on individuals and interactions over processes and tools. We need to ensure that the latest code is available for testing in all the internationally distributed locations. Feedback based on working software helps to build confidence in the feature teams.
References : https://agilemanifesto.org/
Baiju Joseph Thalupadath
Head Of TechOps(QE,RE & SRE) @ Yahoo Small Business
In a nutshell, everything in the corporate environment have become dynamically agile, where business owners are trying their best to maximize return on their investments. As a timely coincidence, leading organizations like the Project Management Institute (PMI) started their initiatives long back to converge the Predictive and Agile Project Management best practices, as if they could foresee the forthcoming new world order well in advance. All these have major impact on how we collaborate and work on projects. The concept of permanent employment have already become a matter of the past, as organizations are actively seeking flexibility in resourcing to optimize costs.
People with proven skill sets and the ability to learn fast with good work ethics will be sought after. Professionals with the ability to deliver value at the right time, with almost zero supervision, working remotely will be in demand globally. The geographical constraints of employment will become almost zero for the right people who can proactively identify the new opportunities and gear up. In this new world order, our professional profiles matters a lot to market ourselves. You are a brand, and that brand has to be continuously nourished to be in demand. This is the right time to equip yourself with new in demand skills supported by globally acknowledged credentials. Project Management 2021, is all about highly skilled, motivated individuals, working on their projects of choice as self organizing teams, demonstrating high degree of work ethics.
Get ready and embrace the Change !
Adherence to the Professional ethics for project managers is a question of short term success Vs long term success in the project management profession.
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Joanne Yarbrough, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Major Fraud Investigations Division, announced that ROBERT GIULIETTI, 55, a resident of Cheshire and an employee of the U.S. Postal Service, was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint charging him with bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering. In association with today’s arrest, the government also executed seizure warrants on three bank accounts controlled by GIULIETTI and seized $630,731.40 in proceeds allegedly involved in the commission of those offenses.
Three senior bureaucrats have been arrested in Assam on corruption charges. Two of the arrests were made by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), officials said in Guwahati on Thursday. “There were lots of irregularities in road construction works carried out by the NBCC in Guwahati and we hope the CBI investigations would be able to unravel the scam and help in punishing the guilty,” said Robin Bordoloi, ruling Congress party legislator representing Guwahati. CBI officials said they have got more leads into the scam and could possibly arrest a few more people.
Asem Elgawhary, the former principal vice president of Bechtel Corporation and general manager of the Power Generation Engineering and Services Company (PGESCo), was indicted by a grand jury in Maryland on charges that he defrauded his former employers, laundered the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme and violated federal tax laws.
In Jharkhand, Prashant Kumar Bajpai, General Manager of Central Coalfields Limited (CCL), Barka Sayal, Ramgarh project located in Patratu block of Ramgarh district and his Personal Assistant Aparna Sengupta were arrested by CBI team late last night for seeking bribe of Rupees Twenty Six thousand for sanctioning of tender for construction of roads.
The Serious Fraud Office has brought charges against GPT Special Project Management Ltd and three individuals in connection with its investigation into allegations concerning the conduct of GPT’s business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. GPT, Jeffrey Cook, former Managing Director of GPT, and John Mason, the financial officer and part owner of the foreign-registered companies Simec and Duranton, subcontractors to GPT, have been charged with corruption between January 2007 and December 2012 in relation to contracts awarded to GPT in respect of work carried out for the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Jeffrey Cook has also been charged with misconduct in public office between September 2004 and November 2008 in relation to commission paid to him on contracts he placed with ME Consultants Ltd for the Ministry of Defence by which he was employed. Terence Dorothy has been charged with aiding and abetting that offence.
These are the first few cases surfaced out of about 6,28,00,000 results (0.59 seconds) while googling for ‘Project managers who got arrested for corruption’. That shows that corruption is rampant in projects and the key question is whether one should be a corrupt project manager or not. Like hatred cannot be resolved by hatred, corruption can be overcome only by honesty, ethics and professionalism. That is where the significance of professional ethics for project managers become very relevant for project managers to succeed in the longer run.
The overall duration of the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) intensive projects can be reduced / controlled considerably by the application of agile best practices during the following phase / activities;
As we can see, these are the areas where multi disciplinary communication and coordination is required maximum. The biggest culprit for delay in most of the infrastructure projects is in getting clearances. By bringing in agile project management (APM) best practices to these areas of projects, the overall delay of the projects can be controlled effectively.