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Topics: Agile, IT Project Management, Scrum
agile project manager
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I've recently been getting mandates where I am have to play a dual or sometimes - triple role - of project manager - scrum master and product owner all put into one.
The mandate calls for me to lead a data management project with a backlog of stories (features and epics) and some key deliverables (a la waterfall).
I find the whole to be a bit confusing at times ... the team claims to want to be agile but have stories that have not end (no sprints)....

Any tips to help me survive in this not so obvious environment.

The development team is "agile" but I still have to do reporting (status reports) to the PMO every 2 weeks on project advancement.
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HI, I can see what you observe and I find this is happening more and more often, as a professional we end up fixing or say surviving in an imperfect world.
My approach (you may take something if you feel relevant)

1. I acknowledge the reality and see the things as it is.

2. I see pain points of stakeholders and team and create awareness about practices (some of them can be called agile) which helps in solving some of the pains.
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1 reply by Joey Perugino
Apr 18, 2019 11:42 AM
Joey Perugino
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Thanks Saket
Yes there are a lot of pain points but management and PMO don't seem to want to see them.
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Maybe you should try to separate the streams - key deliverables with waterfall approach and backlog of stories with agile approach. Then set the expectations very clearly for each team. Keep the dependencies in mind but make no mixtures between the 2 streams. Do you have the same resources for both streams?
Another idea would be to see if the agile approach is really suitable for your project (not only technically, but also regarding the people mindset). And if so, identify the pain points, why doesn t exactly work. For the reporting - can you delegate?
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1 reply by Joey Perugino
Apr 18, 2019 11:43 AM
Joey Perugino
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Thanks Anca,

Trying to separate them has been my objective from the beginning ... I'm not getting a lot of support from management however, they want us to use both and report on both.
Really not a recipe for success.
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I am the project manager and in AgilePM or DSDM , which is a hybrid of all agile processes and methods, there is a clearly defined role for a PM.

We cannot be completely agile in our current project because there are some processes that must be done sequentially. therefore we follow a hybrid approach and quicken the pace where-ever possible. This is how we incorporated agile practices to run a Hybrid project .
We had an epic, which we broke down into user stories
We further broke down user stories into tasks
We then had two week iterations where we were tracking the progress of tasks to completion.
We included key documentation in each iteration and where a document was incomplete at the end of an iteration, we simply put it into the next iteration. Therefore we were flexible with the end date of documentation, as long as we were able to complete the tasks within the iteration.

Finally when the epic was ready for operational handover after the last iteration, we ensured that all related documentation was in a final version , signed off by the product owner.

We did Iteration Planning , Daily Stand ups, Iteration Review and Retrospective within Each iteration.

Yes i manage budgets, I do my weekly and monthly Steering committee reporting , But I also ensure that there are daily stand ups and iterations and there is a designated Product owner that I can approach for each epic.

You can still achieve the goals of the epic of producing a working product of value to the end user / customer after each iteration and you can still manage your project management and governance aspects by letting the dev team what it does best, develop software, while you concentrate on getting the project governance into shape
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1 reply by Joey Perugino
Apr 18, 2019 11:47 AM
Joey Perugino
...
Thanks Deepesh,
It seems like you succeeding in managing this well.
My main problem is that this client has 6 month iterations.
I have tried to make them do sprints and have something tangible to deliver every 2-3 weeks but they don't want to do that. That portion is like waterfall,
I admit that it is a bit of a mess but it is what I inherited when I came in and I'm trying to fix things so that I don't go crazy in the process :-)
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In my actual work place we are facing the same and I was in charge to implement end-to-end agile and I am in charge to follow the transformation. We have five diferent life cycles defined plus Scrum (which is a framework then we filled it up with tolls and techniques that best fit for our initiatives). The same person is assigned to more than initiative where they are using agile and non-agile based methods at the same time (take into account that agile is not about a method then we are using agile with waterfall life cycle). To add something more I have to create schedules for Scrum projects just because I did not convince corporate audit that is waste and it has no sense. So, if I have to say you something, the key is to clear understand the scope of work for each role. I know it could be obvious but if you live that situation you will understand why I am pointing it out. On the other side, in today days, if you do not say that you are agile you are considering uggly, bad, dirty and old fashion then it is normal that people claim to be agile, unfortunately.
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1 reply by Joey Perugino
Apr 18, 2019 11:56 AM
Joey Perugino
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I feel your pain Sergio ... the context is pretty much the same where I am.
Really not ideal.
For an agile transformation to be successful you need buy in from Senior management and the PM or else it's just not going to happen.
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Great insights...
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I agree with Saket.
The environment is a little bit complicated in this market place. We should be flexible enough to tackle this situation.
Network:1476



Welcome to hybrid agile, Joey! I'm not a fan of combining key roles beyond the simplest use cases because invariably one or more critical aspects of a role is lost in the attempt to keep all balls in the air.

It comes down to which one (or at most two) roles can you play which will provide greatest value to the product and the team. If you can identify that, then you can maybe identify someone else on the team (or better yet, they can volunteer!) to take on the other role(s).

Kiron
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1 reply by Joey Perugino
Apr 19, 2019 8:31 AM
Joey Perugino
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Absolutely Kiron - I am kind of a newfound fan of Agile - but not when it's done in the manner that is being done in some organizations at the present moment.
Network:238



I can see Agile without iterations. Sometimes it is better without iterations. Agile with only iterations is unfortunately too common as well.

I think one important part is the emergent leadership that should develop. It sounds like your organization is not deferring to you for leadership when it comes to running the project as much as it should, but you can still defer to your team. Get them involved in decision making. Don't tell them how to do things, let them tell you how they are going to do it. Only guide and help fill in the gaps.

Work to keep things as transparent as possible. Establish as many openly visual systems as you can with a constant stream of readily available reports (Jira, for example, you can grab a report at anytime based on the currently entered values). So when managers want a report, you can send it to them - but you can also direct them to the location of your reporting system so they can view it whenever they want.

Push and encourage collaboration among the team. One downside of corporate projects is often the time reporting element of people on the projects. I know this helps with accounting and who to charge, but it can also create situations where people on different projects strictly adhere to time requirements and thus don't communicate with each other. There is sometimes value in having multiple projects with multiple skilled people to communicate and cross-work with each other.

Focus on what you need to do now. Make sure you have those details. Note any possible future red flags but don't obsess over them until you need to. In some cases, project output is pretty clear and there is a low chance of future change, then plan to the detail you need to in that case. Waterfall planning isn't bad or anti-agile, there can certainly be value in it - risk reduction for one if you are sure the project isn't going to change in a year. The only thing that is really anti-agile is limiting your options for the sake of adhering to some sort of Agile framework.

I have kind of become a fan of something I read, "Be agile, not Agile". Don't focus on what the Agile frameworks say, focus on what is the best way. Iterative an incremental don't always make sense - Agile doesn't actually require them. Even the Agile Manifesto does not state iterative and incremental - the closest thing it states, "Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale."

https://agnosticagile.org/
I seek to uphold the following principles, to the best of my ability and judgment:
To put my customer first, making them independent.
To do my best, complementing theory with practical experience.
To tailor agility to context.
To understand hindering constraints and work to remove them.
To share, learn and improve.
To respect frameworks and their practitioners.
To acknowledge unknowns and seek help.
To never mislead and to never misrepresent.
To remember that agility is not the end goal.
To acknowledge that dogmatism is non-agile.
To recognise that there is more to agile than agile.
To give to the community as it has given to me.
Network:719



Apr 18, 2019 1:32 AM
Replying to Saket Bansal
...
HI, I can see what you observe and I find this is happening more and more often, as a professional we end up fixing or say surviving in an imperfect world.
My approach (you may take something if you feel relevant)

1. I acknowledge the reality and see the things as it is.

2. I see pain points of stakeholders and team and create awareness about practices (some of them can be called agile) which helps in solving some of the pains.
Thanks Saket
Yes there are a lot of pain points but management and PMO don't seem to want to see them.
Network:719



Apr 18, 2019 2:24 AM
Replying to anca stefanescu
...
Maybe you should try to separate the streams - key deliverables with waterfall approach and backlog of stories with agile approach. Then set the expectations very clearly for each team. Keep the dependencies in mind but make no mixtures between the 2 streams. Do you have the same resources for both streams?
Another idea would be to see if the agile approach is really suitable for your project (not only technically, but also regarding the people mindset). And if so, identify the pain points, why doesn t exactly work. For the reporting - can you delegate?
Thanks Anca,

Trying to separate them has been my objective from the beginning ... I'm not getting a lot of support from management however, they want us to use both and report on both.
Really not a recipe for success.
...
1 reply by anca stefanescu
Apr 19, 2019 2:17 AM
anca stefanescu
...
Then you have to make management aware this is not a realistic approach. A 6 month iteration is not an iteration. Pretending they re Agile is not leading them anywhere. You must take the management on your side. Otherwise you will waste time and effort for nothing.
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