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Topics: Ethics and Organizational Culture, IT Project Management, Scrum
How to deal with lack of understanding of what a project is?
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What should we do when people ask how they can manage projects with product delivery frameworks like Scrum and kanban?
Should we keep quiet, ignore them or explain the difference between project and product ?
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Explain how the two work together to the greater good of the organization, highlighting the definition and benefits of both processes..
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While Scrum or Kanban might be better suited to product or process-centric delivery, so long as someone understands the limitations of these frameworks when used in a project-centric context, that shouldn't prevent their usage.

Kiron
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In some cases, product delivery can be a project too. It has to do with nature, complexity, size, etc. of the product and organization. If yours are not in this category, then you really need to teach them and let them know what is the project and how we can make a distinction between a project and daily routine, process, etc.
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Hi Roman

Answering fundamental questions can be frustrating. People often take the path of least resistance to gain knowledge/information. To overcome this, we made a list of FAQ and posted on the intranet constantly updating with several queries we encountered and directed people to read the FAQ before they ask to know anything more.
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Hi Stelian,

I always try to explain, I mean, not everyone involved in a project has enough knowledge of what project is and its difference against a product. Anyway, when you use a framework such as Scrum, is important to say that the most important thing is the value created, so if the interest of the organization and the PM is not value-driven delivery, so why to use scrum?

I disagree with Ganesh, as PM we must always be open to clear questions, mostly if this can avoid misunderstandings.
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I see the nearly identical question in Systems Engineering: "What is a system?". Whether or not I bother to correct anyone depends on the context.

If people are only considering whether or not the system or product meets the system level requirements and functions as intended, I let it slide. If considering the over-arching set of business requirements like "Will it be available when needed?" and "What are the development costs", then it becomes much more important. The system or product delivery framework does not encompass everything necessary to make it a successful project. That is where I would correct people to explain that the framework they are discussing is part of the solution, not the complete solution.
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Dec 20, 2018 3:57 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Keith, there are many similar questions, what is the S in SDLC is just one of them. I tried for years to explain the difference between QC and QA and that you can't deliver to QA. I gave up...
Many 'Agile' practitioners are promoting processes where the code goes from developers to 'QA' without thinking that this is what waterfall is.
It is sad that 'Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.' is happening in Agile. Before the introduction of planned approaches in software development the teams were far more Agile. First there was a single role: Analyst Programmer, responsible for everything from requirements to deployment, including UI design, Databases etc.
Hard to accept by QA/QC engineers but 30 years ago there were no testers. The tester role was created for people that couldn't code but wanted to work in software development.
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Why not explain, or at least have a dialogue, learning why they think what they do, while providing substance to your own POV. Who knows, maybe you can influence something to change their viewpoint.
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@Andrew, @Kiron, @Janice. My apologies, my question should've been more specific. I am referring to people pretending to be project managers or managing projects. For me it is frustrating that a 'project manager' can consider Scrum or kanban as project management methodologies.
Explaining Project Management, Agile to people that are not involved in project delivery it's a duty but when you see comments like "PM is not about value delivery like Scrum" on a professional forum how can you not be frustrated?
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Dec 20, 2018 1:42 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
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I see the nearly identical question in Systems Engineering: "What is a system?". Whether or not I bother to correct anyone depends on the context.

If people are only considering whether or not the system or product meets the system level requirements and functions as intended, I let it slide. If considering the over-arching set of business requirements like "Will it be available when needed?" and "What are the development costs", then it becomes much more important. The system or product delivery framework does not encompass everything necessary to make it a successful project. That is where I would correct people to explain that the framework they are discussing is part of the solution, not the complete solution.
Keith, there are many similar questions, what is the S in SDLC is just one of them. I tried for years to explain the difference between QC and QA and that you can't deliver to QA. I gave up...
Many 'Agile' practitioners are promoting processes where the code goes from developers to 'QA' without thinking that this is what waterfall is.
It is sad that 'Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.' is happening in Agile. Before the introduction of planned approaches in software development the teams were far more Agile. First there was a single role: Analyst Programmer, responsible for everything from requirements to deployment, including UI design, Databases etc.
Hard to accept by QA/QC engineers but 30 years ago there were no testers. The tester role was created for people that couldn't code but wanted to work in software development.
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Hi Stelian :) looks like you have a bone to pick with Testers. A Testing role according to me, and according to various frameworks, should be a valuable member of the Solution Development Team .

The Solution Development team must ideally consist of the Business Analyst , who is a bridge between the business and the Development Team, The Solution Developer who develops the products, the Team Leader who coordinates the development activities and ensures everyone is on track , everything is adequately tested and the Tester.

All these roles must work within your sprint, your iteration, your timebox and whatever else is the buzzword these days is for your development chunks. At the end of the chunk, you need to deliver "value" to the customer.

Yes ! A tester needs to be deeply embedded in the development Team
A Developer is not a God . A Developer is not infallible. A developer may have unit tested to the nth degree, but without integration - end -to - end testing by an "INDEPENDENT" tester, the testing is never complete.

agree that a developer may be multi-skilled, may be a good analyst, maybe a good programmer, may be a good tester, but If I already have a team, I will make sure the team members do what they are "best" at doing. A Developer is "best" at developing , so make them develop the code . A "Tester" is best at testing, so make them "test" the code.
I am not advocating for a moment here that it's a hands off approach after developing . on the contrary these roles should work together throughout the sprint to achieve the objectives.

After the integrated testing , there is still the User Acceptance Testing . It ain't complete until the customer says it's complete.
The PM and the Developer's job is not complete after throwing the product over the fence to the user. They still need to "guide" the user. The BA Still needs to work closely with the tester , the user and the Developer to make sure that the Product quality is acceptable by the customer.

You know all about Peer Programming? don't you .

Why do you bother with a second pair of eyes in development and why wouldn't you bother about a second pair of eyes when it comes to testing?

Forget about Agile, Forget about Waterfall . If your product does not confirm to the customer's quality expectations and the acceptance criteria, forget about the Project .

Coming back to your main question . If you sell the idea that in an adaptive life cycle , Project Manager does the following :-
Empowers the Solution development team to make good "development and Quality Control and Assurance Decisions"
Acts as a servant leader for the Development Team and ensures good communication flows from the BA to the Developer to the tester
Makes sure that everyone understands that they are working as "one team" and every one needs to respect and understand each other's roles and if one of the aspects - analysis, development or testing , misses a key requirement then the product does not satisfy the customer's needs.
Takes care of the scope , schedule and Budget
Is not a road block to progress, but encourages progress through communication and proactive risk management

You are likely to convince them of the importance of a PM role
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3 replies by Deepesh Rammoorthy and Stelian ROMAN
Dec 20, 2018 6:12 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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A bit off topic but I take the advice that I should try to explain to less knowledgeable people what project management and Agile is.
1) the Scrum Guide (the most used Agile Framework) doesn't contain the tester role nor the word testing. Testing is part of the development and when an Item is done by the Developer should not require testing before being sent to the user.
2) I do know a lot about peer programming. it is done by 2 developers that can and should swap roles. The second pair of eyes was never intended to be a tester.
3) Quality is part of the scope, no client will ask for a product full of defects. I do forget about waterfall, mainly because if the Test phase as a distinct step done by a specialised role.
4) You confuse Quality Assurance with Quality Control. They are not the same. The PM is responsible for QA in a project and QA doesn't necessarily require QC. It is much more than that and I don't have the time and patience to explain the difference.
5) you confuse the SM with the PM. PM is not a servant leader. (you need to understand what a servant leader is. The concept was defined in 70s).
6) I came from a development background. In my time testers were failed developers. a good developer will progress to Lead, Architect and in the end Development Manager.
7) I agree that the junior people in the development team, especially the testers, don't understood the PM role and how important it is. It is far from a Servant Leader that you describe.

I strongly recommend that you read the Agile Manifesto and the Scrum Guide if you want to understand what Agile is about and why the tester role is obsolete in Agile. DSDM created "Agile" roles by adding the prefix to the planned (not "waterfall") approach roles: Agile BA, Agile Developer, Agile PM, Agile PgM, Agile Tester ....

It will pay off if you do some research on pair programming also. It was a technique introduced in XP, a framework that had no certification that you can show off with...
Dec 20, 2018 6:22 PM
Deepesh Rammoorthy
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I am sorry Stelian :) you misunderstood me as well .
I am quite happy to admit that you may have a wealth of experience or more industry experience than me and you may well have taught me a few things today . So thanks for that :)

I know what a PM is and i know it will take time to explain to anyone that doesn't understand what a PM does and how they add value to a project .
I also understand that a Scrum Master is not a PM.
I am certainly not someone to go into a detailed argument about whether I should be following a specific framework or not.
I believe in improvising using multiple approaches and so I do not advocate that any particular framework or project management method is better or worse than the other.
The example of pair programming was not to compare it with testing but to explain that if two eyes are better than one for Development , the same should hold good for testing.
You may call me old school but I personally don't believe that a high quality product can be developed by not having a tester in your team.

In support of my argument I will play back your very words.
I don't need certifications to be a good Project Manager .
I am not infallible either, so i accept my short comings .
Dec 20, 2018 6:43 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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All good. I can assure you that a good product can be developed without a (specialised) tester.
There are many start-ups that are one man show, especially the ones building mobile apps. Most start-ups are Agile organisations with one role only: Developer.
The testing function/capability is absorbed in the Developer role (as it should be and it was when the software development started).
The PM role is important for 2 reasons:
1) as a coordinator, ensuring governance and managing finances. When the team/budget is significant (let's say over 5 people and over $500k) the PM function can't be absorbed in the Dev team.
2) Some people will always need to be told what to do or won't take full responsibility and accountability for their work. The self organising team at scale is a myth. The proof is that the famous Agile companies like Google, Apple, Atlassian etc have CEO, PgMs, PMs etc.
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