Question: I love working with my agile team. All the personalities are great, and everyone gets along fine. The problem is one person who we can’t rely on to finish her tasks on time. With no project manager to keep tabs on people, how do agile teams deal with slackers?
Ask the ScrumMaster to perform the project manager’s task of keeping tasks coming in on time and disciplining non-producing team members. He or she is responsible for team member actions.
No one is expecting agile teams to estimate accurately, so allow the person whose work is not done in a timely way to continue at her own pace. Team harmony trumps speed.
With a self-directed agile team, the team members must confront the non-performing members to keep the flow of iteration work on track. Agile doesn’t mean “no accountability”.
Allow the slower team members to choose the latest tasks in the dependency chain, so that they don’t hold up the team.
Some studies have indicated that the real benefits of offshore outsourcing can be diminished by issues in communication, skill sets and accountability. But if managed properly, offshore IT projects can reap substantial rewards.
On an agile project, we often must accomplish the extraordinary. Yet how can we do so when we must work with such…ahem…ordinary people? Here are some suggestions for helping your group of ordinary individuals to accomplish the extraordinary on your agile project.
There is no exact science for people. Just as our project processes should be context-specific, so too should our team processes. Depending on whether your team is brand new, establishing itself or stable, the way we interact as managers and leaders should be tailored to fit the circumstances. Here are some pointers.
What is your PMO’s reputation among the PMs it serves? There could be a lot of distrust. Through experience, one manager discovered some potential problem areas that you may want to look at in your own organization.
While many projects may not have to adopt the elements of the Federal Incident Command System, some are set up to resolve a certain time-bound resolution of organizational priorities and can reap the benefits.
Question: My team seldom seems to be able to communicate effectively about project data and reports, even using the most specific common words. And we disagree on whose meaning is correct. How do we find a reputable source to rely on to clear up these misunderstandings?
Whichever team member has the most years with the organization should be allowed to define terms for the team to adopt. Defer to this person.
The field of knowledge management is being used as a common foundation for defining terms for the project management field and beyond.
Ask the person who has the most recent PMI certification, as those with older certifications may not understand today’s project management practices.
The National Association of Project Management Dictionary should be the standard for all project managers, regardless of where they reside.
Governance happens in projects all the time, and a well thought-out governance process can be a powerful project tool. In this article, we will examine why governance is necessary, where governance is most effective and how we as project and program managers can use governance to powerful effect.
Every project has an issues log. But what about the PMO? Does your PMO manage issues and maintain an issues log? Do you look for trends across the issues of different projects and take proactive steps to address them? Do you attempt to prevent issues through good communication? In this article, we look at a model for PMO-level issue management and suggest ways that it can improve the quality of projects that your PMO is responsible for.
It doesn’t seem to matter what methodologies are used--success is not a guarantee. While eyes always turn to the PM for blame, isn’t it time we examined why another significant party should also be sharing that burden?
Agile methods suggest replacing top-down, command-and-control management with empowered teams and shared leadership. That all sounds nice, but what exactly is shared leadership and how do you get it to happen?
Do you have a readiness plan in place for potential pandemics? Even if you feel protected or isolated from such an occurrence, having a readiness plan can also serve as an important reinforcement to customers and stakeholders who are dependent upon your continued performance and success.
While “blame” is not a constructive term to use in establishing where things went wrong, every element of a project should have clearly defined owners. If it isn’t clear where that ownership lies, there's a fundamental problem in the way your project is structured. Here we look at how we can establish that ownership--and ensure that the model is applied effectively.
The stress of dealing with the governance committee can quickly cause the word “governance” to become a four-letter word. Learn how to work the system to make governance effective and actually helpful to the project.
There are many ways that a project manager can find or create a community of support--and it extends beyond the project management office. Here we offer a few suggestions and starting points for finding communities for project managers.
To look into the future--more often than not--you must first look back. But if we are to do that and look ahead to envision what the future of project management might look like 10, 20 or even 100 years from now, looking at how the past envisioned the future may help point us in the right direction and show us where that journey into the future is headed. So what did the future look like, in the past?
Question: My project “teams” are random, siloed people housed all over the building. We never meet, and multiple project managers all use the same departmentalized individuals to complete activities. How do I get them to prioritize my work requests?
Ask your organization to restructure from a traditional hierarchy to a projectized organization.
Offer free coffee mugs, t-shirts and award certificates each time someone completes an activity for your project.
Show your manager that having these people moved to a common workspace for the duration of your project will add value to the project deliverables.
Transition yourself from a project manager to a project leader and create a sense of connection and personal relationships between these random, siloed workers.
It would be simple for a development team to use agile software development practices to improve their development process, likely reducing the injection of defects and possibly increasing their productivity. But what happens if they don’t? A lesson in communication and human behavior may help.
Question: My organization outsources to save money, but it creates communication issues and other problems for my agile team. Can offshoring (outsourcing) work effectively for non-collocated agile groups?
Yes, but success may depend on how far away from your collocated team the outsourced resources are located.
No. Agile practices stress collocated teams. If you are not based together, there is no way for an agile approach to be effective.
Yes, but only if the teams switch the locations where they live every six months so that each group learns the language and culture of the other.
No. Agile was created in the United States, and therefore it is only intended to work for American teams.
Whether a project manager has a lot of experience or none at all leading teams, there are some basic guidelines they can follow in order to lead people successfully. A trip back to high school shows us three key roles the PM must play.
Projects need resolute leadership, which emphasizes the importance of project management decisions. They can make a project successful, but they can also make a project fail. That is why obscure human heuristics (mental disposition) and biases (personal inclinations) are so important. PMs need to know how these can influence decisions, along with firmly commanding traditional decision-making techniques.
"I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him."