Tag Archives: agile methodology

Scrum: Change in Portfolios and Programs

Any change that arises in either the programs or portfolios may have a cascading effect on all dependent projects and Sprints. Therefore, it is advisable to minimize changes at these higher levels. If a change is required and all stakeholders are in agreement to make the change at these levels, the following should be kept in mind.

In Portfolio

  1. It is not recommended to make changes in between two Portfolio Backlog Meetings.
  2. If the change is minor, the Portfolio Product Owner should secure approval from the relevant stakeholders (e.g., sponsor, customer, and end user) and then add the requirements to the Portfolio Backlog. Product Owners of the program and project will consider those requirements for inclusion in future Sprints.
  3. If the change is major, the portfolio efforts along with associated programs, projects, and Sprints need to stop, and a Portfolio Backlog Meeting should be conducted to determine next steps.
  4. Portfolio Prioritized Product Backlog Meetings (also referred to as Portfolio Backlog Meetings), should be conducted at 4 – 12-month intervals. The frequency and impact of changes to a portfolio largely determine the time duration between two Portfolio Backlog Meetings. If there are several expected changes in portfolio, it is preferable to conduct Portfolio Backlog Meetings at more regular intervals (e.g., 4 – 6 months); but if there are fewer expected changes and if requirements are stable, the duration between two Portfolio Backlog Meetings could be increased (e.g., 9 to 12 months).

 

In Program

  1. It is not recommended to make changes in between two Program Backlog Meetings.
  2. If the change is minor, the Program Product Owner should secure approval from the relevant stakeholders (e.g., sponsor, customer, and end user) and the Portfolio Product Owner and then add the requirements to the Program Backlog. Product Owners for the project will consider those requirements for inclusion in future Sprints.
  3. If the change is major, the program efforts along with associated projects and Sprints need to stop, and a Prioritized Product Backlog Meeting should be conducted to determine next steps.
  4. Program Prioritized Product Backlog Meetings (also referred to as Program Backlog Meetings), should preferably be conducted at 2- to 6-month intervals. The frequency and impact of changes to a program largely determine the time duration between two Program Backlog Meetings. If there are several expected changes in program, it is preferable to conduct Program Backlog Meetings at more regular intervals (e.g., 2 to 3 months); but if there are fewer expected changes and if requirements are stable, the duration between two Program Backlog Meetings could be increased (e.g., 5 to 6 months).

The following figure demonstrates how changes can be managed within the Scrum flow for both portfolios and programs.

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What is Scrum of Scrums?

What is Scrum of Scrums and how does it work in the product development process? The first thing to know about Scrum of Scrums is that it acquires relevance only for large projects where multiple Scrum Teams are involved. In this process Scrum Team representatives convene for Scrum of Scrums Meetings in predetermined intervals or whenever required to collaborate and track their respective progress, impediments, and dependencies across teams.Normally, one member from each Scrum Team will represent his or her team in the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. In most cases, this is the Scrum Master, but at times someone else may represent the team. A single person may be nominated by the team to represent them in every Scrum of Scrums Meeting, or the representative may change over time, based on who can best fulfill the role depending on current issues and circumstances. Each person involved in the meeting should have the technical understanding to be able to identify instances in which teams could cause each other impediments or delays. Other important participants of Scrum of Scrums meeting include Chief Scrum Master and Chief Product Owner. The main purpose of the Scrum of Scrums Meeting is to communicate progress between multiple teams. The Chief Scrum Master (or any Scrum Master who would facilitate the Scrum of Scrums Meeting), can announce an agenda prior to the meeting. This allows individual teams to consider the agenda items in preparation for the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. Any impediments being faced by a team, which may also affect other teams, should be indicated so they can be conveyed at the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. In addition, if a team becomes aware of a large scale issue, change or risk that may affect other teams that should be communicated at the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. Outputs from the process Retrospect Sprint may have issues that could impact multiple Scrum Teams and could be used as an input for effective Scrum of Scrums Meeting. These meetings are preferably short (but usually not Time-boxed to allow for more sharing of information between teams) where a representative from each Scrum team meets to share status of the respective teams. The Scrum of Scrums Meeting is held at pre-determined intervals or when required by Scrum Teams, and these meetings facilitate the face-to-face sharing of information among different Scrum Teams through the Scrum of Scrums, issues, dependencies, and risks impacting multiple Scrum Teams can be closely monitored, which helps the various teams working on a large project better coordinate and integrate their work. It is the responsibility of the Chief Scrum Master (or another Scrum Master who facilitates the Scrum of Scrum Meetings) to ensure that all representatives have an environment conducive to openly and honestly sharing information, including feedback to other team representatives. For larger projects, involving a significant number of teams, multiple levels of these meetings may be convened. Each Scrum Team representative will provide updates from his/her team in turn. These updates are usually provided in the form of answers to four specific questions.

  1. What has my team been working on since the last meeting?
  2. What will my team do until the next meeting?
  3. What were other teams counting on our team to finish that remains undone?
  4. What is our team planning on doing that might affect other teams?

The answers to these four questions provide information that allows each team to clearly understand the work status of all other teams. It is recommended that a dedicated conference room be made available for the Scrum of Scrums Meeting, where all the Scrum Team Representatives are comfortable. In Convene Scrum of Scrums process, Scrum Guidance Body Expertise could relate to documented best practices about how to conduct Scrum of Scrum Meetings, and incorporate suggestions from such meetings in project work of individual Scrum Teams. There may also be a team of subject matter experts who may help the Chief Scrum Master facilitate the Scrum of Scrum Meeting. Some of the important outputs of the Scrum of Scrums meetings are: Coordination of work across multiple Scrum Teams. This is especially important when there are tasks involving inter-team dependencies. Incompatibilities and discrepancies between the work and deliverables of different teams are quickly exposed. This forum also gives teams the opportunity to showcase their achievements and give feedback to other teams. By using Scrum of Scrums Meeting, there is collaboration across the organization as opposed to people working in closed teams concerned primarily with their individual responsibilities. The Scrum of Scrums Meeting is a forum where Scrum Team members have the opportunity to transparently discuss issues, impacting their project. The need to deliver every Sprint on time forces the teams to actively confront such issues early instead of postponing seeking resolution. This timely discussion and resolution of issues in the Scrum of Scrums Meeting greatly improve coordination between different Scrum Teams and also reduces the need for redesign and rework. Risks related to dependencies and delivery time tables are mitigated as well.

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Types of Scrum Masters

The Scrum Master is the “servant leader” of the Scrum Team who moderates and facilitates team interactions as team coach and motivator. The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the team has a productive work environment by guarding the team against external influences, removing any obstacles, and enforcing Scrum principles, aspects, and processes. Different Scrum projects have different requirements, hence the need for different levels of Scrum Masters. Here are three such roles:

Chief Scrum Master

Large projects require multiple Scrum Teams to work in parallel. Information gathered from one team may need to be appropriately communicated to other teams—the Chief Scrum Master is responsible for this activity. The role of a Chief Scrum Master is necessary to ensure proper collaboration among the Scrum Teams. Coordination across various Scrum Teams working on a project is typically done through the Scrum of Scrums (SoS) Meeting. There is no hierarchy between the Scrum Masters: they are all peers. The Chief Scrum Master just works on a multi-team level, whereas the Scrum Masters work on a single team level. Typically, any inter-team issues are addressed by the interested parties in a session immediately following the Scrum of Scrums Meeting. The Chief Scrum Master facilitates this session. The Chief Scrum Master can be chosen from the Scrum Masters of the large project or can be somebody else. For very large projects, it is recommended to have a Chief Scrum Master who is not also a Scrum Master because the effort required for the Chief Scrum Master role will prevent the Chief Scrum Master from also being able to dedicate enough time to the work with his/her Scrum Team. In either case, the Chief Scrum Master should have enough Scrum expertise to be able to foster collaboration and to help and coach others with the implementation of Scrum for a smooth delivery of the project’s products. Apart from clearing impediments and ensuring a conducive project environment for the Scrum Teams, the Chief Scrum Master also collaborates with the Chief Product Owner, other Scrum Masters, and Product Owners in activities such as developing the list of components and resources needed in common for all teams throughout the project. He/she facilitates everything that goes beyond the realm of a single Scrum Team. The Chief Scrum Master also interfaces with the Program Scrum Master to ensure alignment of the large project with the goals and objectives of the program.

Program Scrum Master

The Program Scrum Master is a facilitator who ensures that all project teams in the program are provided with an environment conducive to completing their projects successfully. The Program Scrum Master guides, facilitates, and teaches Scrum practices to everyone involved in the program; provides guidance to Scrum Masters of individual projects; clears impediments for the different project teams; coordinates with the Scrum Guidance Body to define objectives related to quality, government regulations, security, and other key organizational parameters; and, ensures that Scrum processes are being effectively followed throughout the program. The Program Scrum Master interfaces with the Portfolio Scrum Master to ensure alignment of the program with the goals and objectives of the portfolio. He or she is also involved with appointing Scrum Masters for individual projects and ensuring that the vision, objectives, outcomes, and releases of individual projects in the program align with that of the program. This role is similar to that of the Scrum Master except it meets the needs of the program or business unit rather than of a single Scrum Team.

Portfolio Scrum Master

This role is similar to that of the Scrum Master except it meets the needs of the portfolio or business unit rather than of a single Scrum Team.

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Creating Content For Social Media

In social media channels, high quality content is the first priority, followed by content distribution. Companies worldwide invest large sums to create quality content, but in many cases, the content is not distributed properly. Audiences neither find nor share it. A good Content Creation and Distribution Plan for social media marketing will ensure that a company’s content is relevant, timely, and well written and that it reaches the target audience using the optimal means as determined by the digital marketing team.

One of the major debates regarding content creation is between content quality and quantity—how much content is enough and how good does it need to be?

Content creation should ideally start by defining a quantity goal and a publishing schedule with appropriate deadlines. Once the publishing schedule is finalized, focus should be on the quality for each piece of content being distributed.

Some of the different types of content that can be created for the various social media elements are as follows:

  • Status updates—for professional and personal sharing websites
  • Photos—for professional and personal sharing websites
  • Videos—for audio-visual sharing, professional, and personal sharing websites
  • Infographics—for blogs, discussion forums, and professional sharing websites
  • Polls—for blogs, professional, and personal sharing websites
  • Quizzes—for blogs, professional, and personal sharing websites
  • Contests—for blogs, discussion forums, and professional sharing websites

It is also important to note that both the relevance of content and the relevance of type of content depend on the nature of the business. For example, quizzes are more relevant for companies in the education sector than for other industries such as manufacturing or airline.

In addition to good quality content, an effective social media plan must have a good distribution strategy. The content should be shared through the company’s own blog as well as other company pages on various social media sharing sites. Businesses must also ensure that there are ways for their target audiences to like, comment, and share the original content created by the company.

The following figure shows a sample of the structure of a Content Creation and Distribution Plan.

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Sprint Backlog in Scrum

What is a Sprint Backlog? Is it a baseline, a record or a report? Baseline is a project document, which, defines aspects of the project and, once approved, is subject to change control. It is used to measure project’s actual performance as against planned targets. A record maintains information on the progress of the project. A report provides snapshots of the status of different aspects of a project at a given point of time or for a given duration.

To answer this question, we need to understand what a Sprint Backlog is, its purpose and composition. The Scrum Team creates the Sprint Backlog and Sprint Burndown Chart using the User Stories and the Effort Estimated Task List during Sprint Planning Meeting. During Sprint Planning Meeting, the User Stories, which are approved, estimated, and committed during the Approve, Estimate, and Commit User Stories process, are taken up for discussion by the Scrum Team. Each Scrum Team member also uses Effort Estimated Task List to select the tasks they plan to work on in the Sprint, based on their skills and experience. The list of the tasks to be executed by the Scrum Team in the upcoming Sprint is called the Sprint Backlog.

It is common practice in Scrum that the Sprint Backlog is represented on a Scrumboard or task board, which provides a constantly visible depiction of the status of the User Stories in the backlog. Also included in the Sprint Backlog are any risks associated with the various tasks. Any mitigating activities to address the identified risks would also be included as tasks in the Sprint Backlog. Once the Sprint Backlog is finalized and committed to by the Scrum Team, new user stories should not be added – however, tasks that might have been missed or overlooked from the committed user stories may need to be added. If new requirements arise during a Sprint, they will be added to the overall Prioritized Product Backlog and included in a future Sprint.

Another tool associated with the Sprint Backlog is the Sprint Burndown Chart. It is a graph that depicts the amount of work remaining in the ongoing Sprint. The initial Sprint Burndown Chart is accompanied by a planned burndown. The Sprint Burndown Chart should be updated at the end of each day as work is completed. This chart shows the progress that has been made by the Scrum Team and also allows for the detection of estimates that may have been incorrect. If the Sprint Burndown Chart shows that the Scrum Team is not on track to finish the tasks in the Sprint on time, the Scrum Master should identify any obstacles or impediments to successful completion, and try to remove them. A related chart is a Sprint Burnup Chart. Unlike the Sprint Burndown Chart which shows the amount of work remaining, the Sprint Burnup Chart depicts the work completed as part of the Sprint.

So, it is difficult to categorize the Sprint Backlog as a baseline, record or a report. And as Scrum professes minimum documentation, Sprint Backlog fulfills purposes of more than one project document. For more information on Scrum framework, you can read the Scrum Body of Knowledge (SBOK Guide). It can be downloaded for free in SCRUMstudy website: http://www.scrumstudy.com/download-free-buy-SBOK.asp

To know more visit   http://www.SCRUMstudy.com

Creating Content For Social Media

In social media channels, high quality content is the first priority, followed by content distribution. Companies worldwide invest large sums to create quality content, but in many cases, the content is not distributed properly. Audiences neither find nor share it. A good Content Creation and Distribution Plan for social media marketing will ensure that a company’s content is relevant, timely, and well written and that it reaches the target audience using the optimal means as determined by the digital marketing team.

One of the major debates regarding content creation is between content quality and quantity—how much content is enough and how good does it need to be?

Content creation should ideally start by defining a quantity goal and a publishing schedule with appropriate deadlines. Once the publishing schedule is finalized, focus should be on the quality for each piece of content being distributed.

Some of the different types of content that can be created for the various social media elements are as follows:

  • Status updates—for professional and personal sharing websites
  • Photos—for professional and personal sharing websites
  • Videos—for audio-visual sharing, professional, and personal sharing websites
  • Infographics—for blogs, discussion forums, and professional sharing websites
  • Polls—for blogs, professional, and personal sharing websites
  • Quizzes—for blogs, professional, and personal sharing websites
  • Contests—for blogs, discussion forums, and professional sharing websites

It is also important to note that both the relevance of content and the relevance of type of content depend on the nature of the business. For example, quizzes are more relevant for companies in the education sector than for other industries such as manufacturing or airline.

In addition to good quality content, an effective social media plan must have a good distribution strategy. The content should be shared through the company’s own blog as well as other company pages on various social media sharing sites. Businesses must also ensure that there are ways for their target audiences to like, comment, and share the original content created by the company.

The following figure shows a sample of the structure of a Content Creation and Distribution Plan.

To Know more visit http://www.SMstudy.com

Importance of Facebook Marketing

Sales and Marketing has evolved significantly over time going from the Barter System of 1000 years ago to Traditional Marketplaces, Seller’s Marketplaces, Conventional Mass-media Marketing, Fragmented New-age Marketing to today where Internet enabled business models have helped marketing evolved further.

In the past through our blogs, we’ve touched upon this evolution. In this blog, we will focus on the internet enabled modes of marketing specifically Facebook Marketing. With most customers now continuously spending their time online, businesses globally have understood the value of targeting them through the online mode. While the traditional methods of targeting i.e. TV, Radio, Newspapers etc. help is reaching to a larger audience fast, they are ineffective in terms of targeting a specific segment of the audience.

If a business wants to target a specific audience segment, you need to create a customer persona and then set-up filters to target and find the relevant audience. To target relevant audiences, Facebook helps you segment your audiences using these filters:

  • Location: Reach customers by City, Country, even Postcode
  • Demographics: Target people based on demographics like age, gender, relationship status, education, workplace and more
  • Interests: Define your ideal audience by their interests, hobbies and Pages they like on Facebook. This may be based on their listed interests, activities, education, job titles, Pages they like or groups to which they belong.
  • Behaviours: Reach people based on their purchasing behaviour, device usage and other activities

Besides these regular segments, Facebook has two advanced filters known as Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences.

Custom Audiences: Custom Audiences let you reach customers you already know with ads on Facebook. If you have developed a list of customer emails or acquired such customer data from your site, you can upload this list of email addresses or phone numbers to develop a custom audiences profile. Once you upload this list onto Facebook, you would be able to reach out to these customers on the facebook network and target them using your product advertisements. You can also build audiences from the people that visit your website or from people who use your mobile app. You can create a maximum of 10,000 Custom Audiences for those from your website or mobile app. Now while custom audiences might help you advertise to this list of audiences who have already purchased your product in the past, this is not really a good use of your investment as you can also target this audience by doing a simple (and almost free) email campaign. The real advantage of Custom Audiences is that it helps you expand your business over the Facebook network through Lookalike Audiences.

Lookalike Audiences: Lookalike Audiences helps you create new audiences based on traits from one of the following sources:

  • Custom Audiences: As we’ve seen before, you can upload a list of your existing customers using Custom Audiences. The benefit of this is that we can then use Lookalike Audiences to find people who resemble that audience. Since the custom audiences have already bought from you, Facebook would be able to match their interests, and other characteristics to get you a bigger audience with the same profile. This would help you reach out to a wider audience who are more likely to buy your product.
  • Website visitors: Like Google Adwords, Facebook also allows users to track visits to your website. You can install a Facebook Pixel on your site which would help facebook track the profile and behavior of this particular user. Then based on the profile of people visiting your website, we can create Lookalike Audiences to help you reach to a wider audience.
  • Page fans: People who like your brand’s page on Facebook are typical evangelists for your brand. Facebook allows you to use Lookalike Audiences to create an audience based on people who like your Page with the belief that the Lookalike Audiences will also exhibit similar behavior to this audience.

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