Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Manoj Vadakkan Video Interview PWWCBA

"originally posted on agilescout.com"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pam Stanton PWWCBA Skype Conversations

Learn more about this event by visiting Projectworld 2010 or signing up for the newsletter: Newsletter

"these interviews were originally posted on www.agilescout.com"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ellen Gottesdiener - Agile Retrospectives

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com. You can find them on Twitter at @agilescout]

A retrospective is a ritual in which the project community:
Reviews the iteration/release/project story
Harvests the collective wisdom of the team
Tells the truth without blame or judgment
Identifies what to appreciate and improve
Understand and forgives its failings
Relishes in its successes

"The insights gained from the retrospectives are the basis for starting again."

What do we ask during a retrospective:
What did we do well that we might forget to do next time if we don't discuss it?
What did we learn?
What should we do differently next time?
What still puzzles us?
What needs more discussion?

Retrospectives need to have structure to them, but also flexibility to move and respond to changes:
Readying - Set the stage
Past - Gather data
Present - Generate insights
Future - Decide what to do
Retrospect - Close the retrospective

In retrospective of this talk, Ellen did a great job helping us understand a framework for holding a retrospective. To learn more about retrospectives you can visit Ellen's website at www.ebgconsulting.com.

James R. Lucas - Team Paradoxes

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com. You can find them on Twitter at @agilescout]

"Working with people would be easy if it wasn't for the people."

"Competing ideas are not a problem to be solved. Competing ideas are an opportunity to be exploited."

The paradox management process:
Embrace - determine to fully accept and live both sides of the paradox. Take more risk and eliminate risk
Eliminate - Focus on identifying and ridding ourselves of weak, poor, and suboptimal ideas and actions on each side of the paradox. Centralize or de-centralize?
Enhance - Focus on identifying and optimizing the good, value-add ideas and actions on each side of the paradox. Have war-rooms and party-rooms. Give people margin to think!
Engage - Use innovation to consciously and systematically to merge the two sides of the paradox into a cohesive whole. Evaluate ideas.
Explore - Challenge the status quo by identifying new actions that grow out of the merger of the two ideas. Be consistent and change everything.

In summary, James reveals to us the need to embrace the whole picture. Paradoxes shouldn't be avoided, they should be embraced!

Arthur Shelley - Behaviors and Teams

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com]

"I'm the behavioral story guy. We must have conversations around behaviors in regard to projects."

"Just because you're at the top of an org chart doesn't mean you're the leader."

What animal do we need to be in business? How do we act?

Behavior drives performance:
Performance = Capability + motivation + influence + role

In summary, do you understand your cultural jungle of characters? Now you need to create an environment that connects with the stakeholders in effective manners. Don't align a lion with a mouse, but communicate wisely. Also, understand your teams social network. If you understand who talks with whom, you'll understand where influence lies.

All behaviors have a niche:

◦Not right and wrong behaviors – But there are misplaced behaviors
◦Target right animal in the right context – To get the optimal outcome
◦Change animals consciously and proactively – rather than subconsciously in reaction
“Need to show that you are behaviorally adaptable in business so as to not be mis-characterized.”

Arthur’s slides are below:

Mary Gerush - Next Gen Project Managers

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com.]
"It's time to paint a new picture of the IT project manager."

Traditional project management has helped us build our world and these standards are entrenched in our IT culture. Today's project manager is skilled, trained, certified.

But are we successful? Data suggests the answer is "NO."

Project managers need to prioritize differently now.

Teams have changed in this brave new world:
Distributed globally
Culturally diverse

Business and technology complexity is growing in this new world:
Mergers and acquisitions
Diverse architecture
Integrations and legacy
New technologies (Cloud, open source, mobility, Web 2.0, social media)

In summary, the new project manager needs to hone their people skills and adapt to new technologies. The soft skills that a project manager has is absolutely crucial to the success of project managers in the new technology-driven world.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pam Stanton and Understanding the Human Side of Project Management

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com. You can find them on Twitter at @agilescout]

What is The Project Whisperer?

Helping teams to recognize and embrace the human dynamics of the workplace.

"A project team acts as a living, breathing entity that undergoes a physical and emotional journey."

Stage 1: Shiny Happy People
Project is chartered
Team is being recruited
Optimism reigns

Stage 2: Confusion Sets In
Ambiguity breeds fear
Leadership wants plan

Stage 3: Valley of Despair
Throwing it over the wall
Interpersonal conflicts
Oh crap! moment

Stage 4: Blast-Off!
Time to deploy
Still complexity, unknowns
Team may be nervous, want to delay the project

Stage 5: Cruisin'
Initial rush and crush is over
Things start smoothing out

Stage 6: The Long Tail
The project is dragging on

Stage 7: Movin' On
Project fizzles out
No one feels recognized
No feeling of success

Janet Bartz and Jane Shellum Video Interview PWWCBA 2010

"originally posted on agilescout.com"

Kathleen Barrett PMs and BAs Must Collaborate

Coming Together to Ensure Project Success - The joint collaboration between Project Management Institute (PMI) and International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA).

Kathleen describes the PM & BA definition of roles:

  • Project Manager - person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives

  • Business Analyst - practitioner who works as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organization to achieve its goals
"These are project role definitions, not job title or organizational role."

"We exist as PM/BA's to introduce change into organizations."

"The PM needs to be the critical liaison to the project sponsor."

Kathleen gave a very detailed but helpful talk about how Project Managers and Business analysts must work together. She outlined the PMBOK and the BABOK and how there was overlapping roles and "partnership collaboration" was essential for the success of PMs and BAs working together.

What Agile Scout liked about Kathleen Barret’s presentation:

Critical Success Factors for Effective Cooperation:

◦Clear, documented, and mutually agreed roles and responsibilities including: Project Management Plan, WBS, Project Schedule, Approach (PM/BA)
◦Constant and open communication
◦Active business sponsor engagement

Key Areas of Overlapping PM/BA Responsibilities:

◦Scope Management – Project and Product Scope (PM), Solution Scope (BA)
◦Risk Management – Risk (PM), Risk, Opportunity (BA)
◦Communication Management – Communication and Stakeholder Management (PM), Communication Plan (BA)
◦Requirements Management – Project and Product Requirements (PM), Solution Requirements (BA)
In Conclusion, Project Managers and Business Analysts must:

◦Understand key concepts in both disciplines
◦Define roles and responsibilities
◦Work through conflict with clear and frequent communications
◦Engage sponsor

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com.]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wisdom from Our Speakers Day 1 PWWCBA 2010

Here is a quick recap of Day 1 from the awesome speakers at Project World 2010

"Core of Agile is resurfacing and advocating business value." - Susan Block

"It's ok to do Agile with a little "a" try things if they work or throw them out. Only use pieces that work or provide value." Jane Shellum

"Be open to what the teams are saying. They come up with great ideas on how to do things." - Pam Johnson

"Make it ok to fail." - Janet Bartz

"If a problem arises, ask the team." - Dave Grabel

"Be Agile, don't just use Agile." - Manoj Vadakkan

Find out more about this event by opting into the email newsletters: Sign Up ProjectWorld

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com.]

Questions for Our Panel Speakers

Manoj Vadakkan
Susan Block
Dave Grabel
Janet Bartz
Jane Shellum
Pam Johnson

Question: How do you make sure that Agile isn't used as a fire extinguishing tool?
Answer by Pam Johnson: Understand the priorities first, go from there and don't fight fires.

Question: Where do you start estimating? How do you kick off the process?
Answer by Manoj Vadakkan: Estimation should continue as is if it's working. Try small projects and iterate on them.

Question: Can a project be too Agile? Moving ahead without enough requirements definition?
Answer by Manoj Vadakkan: It's like an iceberg. You start at the top (prioritized), and as you get deeper it can get bigger. That's fine.

Question: How can Agile techniques for integration and package delivery?
Answer by Susan Block: We have to understand how integration as a product is brought into development. Analysis exercise to elicit the stories to deploy the configuration or integration. Need to have stories to cover that work.

Question: Multiple customers and conflicting priorities? Does Agile work?
Answer by Pam Johnson: Bring all product owners in and have a prioritization session. If that doesn't work, escalate it up towards higher level.

Question: Is it possible to perform Agile business analyst tasks even when project is still formally waterfall?
Answer by Susan Block: I recommend that you look at your big requirements phase and break it down into prioritized functionality. What will add the most value? Maybe you can make the case to provide just enough requirements instead of "all."

Question: Does Agile make sense for projects without a major customer facing component?
Answer by Pam Johnson: Yes. Customers are whomever you're doing the work for. Can be internal.

Question: How do you get team members to work outside their primary skillset to enable swarming?
Answer by Susan Block: Very hard to do, but try leveraging a bonus criteria for team members who are stepping outside their role. Give a carrot of promotion or rewards as a motivator.

Question: Does the business have to colocate with the development team?
Answer by Janet Bartz: Shadow the business people. My personal view is you have to have the business people with IT. It's so much more powerful. You can feel that somethings different where we are. It's tangible. Forget the throw-it-over-the-fence mentality.

Question: Executive support and Agile. What actions would you recommend for teams who want to move to Agile but don't have the support of upper management?
Answer by Manoj Vadakkan: Ask the business the question of why they want to go Agile and what are the reasons?

Question: What kinds of IT software initiatives are not Agile-appropriate?
Answer by Susan Block: Support issues and infrastructure projects that are cut and dry.

Question: How do you get the business to let go of big business requirements documents?
Answer by Jane Shellum: Nobody likes fat requirements documents. They come out of fear of not having all your bases covered. Easy to let go once you understand how Agile works. No such thing as scope creep. Scope change. Then prioritize the total list.

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com.]

Pam Johnson on Self Organizing Teams

Pam Johnson works with Scripps Networks Interactive and they have been doing Agile for 3 years with 30+ development teams.

Pam describes a well understood and fully functional Agile enterprise. A very good example of how Agile is done successfully in a large organization with many teams.

This was an interesting talk because Pam gives the audience a view of a very successful Agile enterprise. There were some interesting points to take away but many of the points were covered by previous speakers.

Pam's talk was a nice end to the main speakers in that it gave us a refreshing look at a very well oiled Agile enterprise. We hope for continued success for Pam and Scripps Network!

Some of the changes that the Scripps Network needs to continue to improve include:
  1. Better defined project initiation processes
  2. Improve turnaround time for obstacle clearing
  3. Leadership coaching within teams
  4. Continued efforts to move from transactional leadership to transformational leadership
  5. Continue to mature relationships with development teams
  6. Get more granular with regard to defining roles and responsibilities for project managers, team members, and functional managers
  7. Continued cross training - Become more generic and less heroic

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com.]

Janet Bartz and Jane Shellum on Using Agile and Lean Methods

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com. You can find them on Twitter at @agilescout]

Janet and Jane come from two different areas of business for the Mayo Clinic. It's the business and IT joining forces!

"When the business and IT partner together value can be derived through collaboration." - Jane Shellum

The Mayo clinic employs several Agile techniques on their projects. They started by focusing on what it took to deliver value, used some (not all) Agile concepts, and built a "dream team" that would fill the Agile roles needed to ensure the project would move smoothly. 

The roles they created included: 
  1. Solution Architect 
  2. Business Architect 
  3. Application Architect 
  4. Data Architect 

"If what I have in the end is a shelf full of documents and no software - I have failed." - Janet Bartz

What is interesting about their experience is that even though their project is Agile, there are still remnants of the old waterfall method that are still necessary. Going Agile doesn't mean drop (all) the old ways of doing things! 

What was also nice was a section on things that they are aware of that need improvement:
  • Technical debt reduction
  • Keeping technical architecture in mind
  • Some Keepers and Kudos from Janet and Jane include:
  • Adherence to fixed iteration schedule
  • Poster-sized schedule of features and sequence
  • Commitment to quality and testing early
  • Inclusion of senior software QA engineer from the beginning

In summary, the business and IT partnership is critical. Don't forget the basics of open, honest and transparent communication with leaders and teams, embrace change but manage it, recognize accomplishment, and finally, be Agile, lean, and in-control.

Dave Grabel - Globally Distributed Teams

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com. You can find them on Twitter at @agilescout]


Dave is a "recovering command & control manager!" Nice to see a little bit of transparency in the beginning. Before Agile Dave lead effective waterfall processes. So what is the reason to go to Agile?

"Change was impossible midstream."

A Tale of Two Projects - Flipping the Agile Manifesto

Two projects that Dave is working on use Scrum, but not completely. 
  1. Project A was a project team of 25 people converting classic ASP to ASP.net offshore. - Successful project.
  2. Project B was a project team of 150 people doing over 1000 Visual FoxPro screens converted to JSP web pages using BEA web portal offshore. - Failed project.
"Agile can be wrong, but it should only be wrong for two weeks. Because you retrospect every iteration."

If teams turn the Agile Manifesto on its head, it becomes ScrumBut. 

Dave gives us an interesting story about the two projects and told us the differences between the two teams. It was an interesting take on how to contrast successful vs. failed projects for distributed teams. 

"You can handle change by being responsive to the stakeholders needs, that's what Agile is all about."

The biggest takeaway would be that to work with overseas teams or distributed Agile teams, there needs to be some very solid processes in place to ensure your team is communicating and collaborating daily.

Susan Block - Agile Requirements

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com. You can find them on Twitter at @agilescout]


  • We will learn about Susan's transition from waterfall to Agile as an Agile business analyst
  • Understand the differences for the requirements approach on an Agile project.
  • Integrate best practices on an Agile project.

The Vanguard Group went Agile to shorten implementation cycle and to deliver most valuable features first. Makes sense to us, a great reason to go Agile!

Agile for Vanguard Group is:

"Better, Faster, Cheaper."

As an Agile business analyst, Susan tells us that back in 2007 a enterprise initiative was funded for a multi-year program and went Agile halfway through!

A life before Agile business analysis for many projects looks like:
  • Project Charter
  • Estimate requirements up front
  • Negotiate requirements duration
  • Produce a project plan for requirements phase
  • Conduct requirements sessions
  • Document detailed requirements in templates
  • Go through a change control board for changing requirements
  • Handoff to development team

After transitioning to Agile, Susan's team found that:
  • Processes are responsive to change with iterative planning and smaller units of work.
  • The teams have daily communication
  • The teams are cohesive in that they are committed, accountable, and available
  • During the transition, Susan's team stopped cold turkey their old ways and went Agile. Interesting point here!

Agile at Vanguard has successfully transitioned to Agile over three years and developed Agile training curriculum in-house! This is a great success story!

The biggest takeaway here is that it takes time to transition to Agile, three year transition is not to shabby.

Manoj Vadakkan on Agile Project Management Estimation

[This article was originally published at AgileScout.com. You can find them on Twitter at @agilescout]

There was a Time Before Agile: 

Before Agile most shops "gathered" requirements from the beginning.

UAT usually was an afterthought and usually left behind in the development process and estimation was done long before the work was even initiated. 

"The actual work always took longer to do than estimated."

Taking baby steps towards Agile:
  • Start small with baby steps in fixed sprint length
  • Run tests after each iterations
  • Start estimation through user stories
  • Get customer feedback

Manoj uses the following Estimation Techniques for User Stories:
  • Planning Poker 
  • T-shirt sizing 
  • Ordered piles 

Manoj defines "Velocity" as how many story points a team can complete within an iteration.

How do you average your velocity?
1. Take out outliers (highest and lowest velocity #)
2. Take best velocity (after outliers taken out)
3. Take lowest velocity (after outliers taken out)
4. Have conversation with your customer around the lowest and best velocity after taking out the outliers. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Not sure how to earn PDUs?

We have the answer - EARN UP TO 36 PDUs/CDUs by coming to the PW&WCBA event. We're offering a NEW year-round comprehensive learning experience that provides more credits than any other event. Within one conference package, earn up to 24 PDUs/CDUs at the live event, plus gain up to 12 MORE credits post-conference through the new on-demand Web Seminar Series which is included in your conference registration.

is geared directly to the discipline of project management and business analysis at both a micro and macro level.

PW&WCBA is the premier conference brand for advancing collaboration through practice.

Each program goes beyond the PMBOK® and the BABOK® and is structured to deliver cutting-edge content for you, your team and your organization. Our speakers urge you to move past the core fundamentals to address real world challenges.

So come to the event and earn professional development units (PDUs) to maintain your PMI certification credential

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Agile Scout - Guest Blogger for Project World & WCBA 2010

We're happy to announce that Agile Scout is the premier live-blogger covering this upcoming Project World and WCBA this November!

Agile Scout is committed to Agile software development and Agile project management news. Their news site covers Agile Scrum tool reviews, Agile book reviews, and the latest Agile conferences. They reach thousands of readers daily.

Agile Scout has already put together a list of Keynote speakers as well as Track Session speakers that they will be attending and live-blogging from. Furthermore Agile Scout has also been selected to be the moderator for the IT Leadership Panel.

We'll see you there!

- Agile Scout

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Better Requirements through Better Validation

    Join us at PW&WCBA 2010 for the presentation, "Better Requirements through Better Validation" with Amy C. Hout, IT Project Sr Analyst, Citi and Keith Barrett, Sr. Sales Engineer,Blueprint Software Systems Inc.

    About the session:

    Improving the quality of requirements, making them more accurate and complete, is the desired outcome of the review and validation process. Not to be confused with sign-off which typically occurs at a given milestone in the process, review and validation requires multiple collaboration points as we share what has been authored to make sure it’s correct. However, many organizations struggle to get the level of engagement and feedback they need. In this session we’ll discuss characteristics of troubled validation approaches and describe more current and modern approaches to engage stakeholders, resulting in higher quality feedback and ultimately better requirements.

    Audience Takeaways:
    • A clear understanding of the difference between validation/review and sign-off
    • How to spot a troubled validation process and its impact on requirements quality
    • New current and modern approaches to conducting validation/review sessions that drive better requirements

    There is still time to register!

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Making a Leap to Agile Requirements

    The upcoming PW&WCBA 2010 event has a pre-conference track devoted exclusively to agile. Learn from veteran PMs about what it really takes to be agile. Check out the session with Susan Block.

    Susan Block is a Lead Business Systems Analyst for The Vanguard Group and in this session, "Making a Leap to Agile Requirements," attendees will learn how to transition their requirements approach from a traditional waterfall project to an Agile project. This presentation will focus on what’s different, what’s the same, how to apply the Agile Manifesto principles to requirements, and best practices from the “front lines” of agile requirements.
    Learn how to transition from waterfall to Agile, what to do differently for requirements in an Agile project, and how to integrate best practices on an Agile requirements effort.

    Join Susan at 11am on Monday, November 8th.

    For more information about the Agile track and the other presentations at PW&WCBA, please download the event brochure.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Special ProjectWorld & WCBA 2010 Registration Offer for IT Portfolio Managers

    There's less than one month until ProjectWorld® &World Congress for Business Analysts® - have you signed up yet?

    Special Offer for Past IT Portfolio Management Conference Attendees!

    Receive a complimentary copy of Susan Cramm's 8 Things We Hate About I.T.: How to Move Beyond the Frustrations to Form a New Partnership with I.T. when you register with code ITPM2010.

    Register Today

    With 2 pre-conference summits, 3 full day workshops, over 45 sessions and 40+ speakers, it's the most comprehensive event covering all of your project management needs. PW&WCBA gives you the knowledge, skills and insights you need for project success. Plus, earn up to 36 PDUs in just one conference package!

    Sessions that may be of interest to you include:
    • Just In Time Project Management: From Paper to Paperless EHR in 8 Weeks
    Samuel W. McDowell, Ph.D., Director, Program Implementation, Vermont Information Technology Leaders
    • The Future of IT Isn't What it Used to Be
    Susan Cramm, Acclaimed IT Leadership Coach, President, ValueDance, HBR Blogger, Author, 8 Things We Hate About I.T.
    • IT Leadership Panel: The Skills You Need to Advance Your Career
    David King, Chief Information Officer, WellDyneRX
    John McGuthry, Chief Information Officer, Armstrong Atlantic State University
    • Cloud Risks: Managing the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing
    Drew Bartkiewicz, VP, Cyber and Technology Liability, The Hartford

    Download the brochure for the complete agenda and session details.

    The industry's leading companies will be attending- don't get left behind- gain the skills, insights and techniques you need to be more valuable to yourself and your organization.

    We hope to see you in Orlando this November!

    PS: Sponsorship & Exhibition Opportunities Available - Please contact Jon Saxe at jsaxe@iirusa.com or or call 646.895.7467

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Meet, Connect & Network with Senior Level BAs & PMs at PW&WCBA next month

    ProjectWorld® & World Congress for Business Analysts® is the premier event geared directly to the disciplines of project management and business analysis. This year's theme is "The World is Thinking Differently. Your Time to Thrive is Now." This event is unique because it pushes attendees beyond the PMBOK® and the BABOK®. Attendees will gain the skills, techniques and best practices necessary for success and the program is structured to deliver cutting-edge content for you, your team and your organization.

    This premiere event offers Direct Access to Network with Hundreds of Senior to C-Level Corporate Practitioners representing Project Management, IT Management, Portfolio Management and Business Analysis.

    Opportunities to present product offerings in our exhibit hall are limited. Solution providers who wish to sponsor and present a sessions, or host an exhibit booth should contact Jon Saxe immediately at 646.895.7467 or jsaxe@iirusa.com.

    Download the PW&WCBA conference brochure for full details and the complete conference agenda.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Network with Leading Minds in Project Management- Plus Earn Up to 36 PDUs

    ProjectWorld® & World Congress for Business Analysts® has been designed with you in mind. We are bringing you a full-day PMO Summit, an entire track dedicated to Building Your Project Management Skill Set for the Future and over 20 sessions focused on the project management professional.

    Hear from PM industry leaders from: Microsoft, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Bayfront Health Services, Hawaii Medical Service Association, Deloitte Services LLP, Kindred Healthcare, DHL Express, Scripts Networks Interactive, US Dept. of the Interior and more. And, earn up to 36 PDUs in just one conference package!

    Download the brochure for full conference details.

    Plus, get the chance to network and learn from over 300 of your project management and business analysis peers. Companies already signed on to attend include:

    ACT Inc.
    Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
    American Water Works
    Arbitration Forums Inc.
    Armstrong State University
    Bank of Canada
    Baxter Healthcare Corporation
    Bayer Healthcare
    Bayfront Medical Center
    BBC World Service
    Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC
    Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC
    BMO Financial Group
    BMO Mutual Funds
    Boeing Capital Corporation
    Brigham Young University
    Bright House Networks
    Cabela's Inc.
    Cadbury Schweppes Plc
    Canadian Blood Services
    Capital Group Companies
    Capital One
    Carnival Cruise Lines
    CEVA Logistics
    CGI Federal
    Children's Hospital Boston
    Churchill Downs Inc.
    Crico Rmf
    Cushman & Wakefield Inc.
    Deloitte & Touche LLP
    DHL Express
    EBG Consulting
    Electro Industries
    Enbridge Pipeline Inc.
    EW Scripps
    Express Scripts Inc.
    Fannie Mae
    Farm Bureau Insurance
    Federal Depositors Insurance Corp.
    Forrester Research
    Grant Thornton UK LLP
    Great American Insurance Group
    Greater Atlanta IIBA
    Hawaii Medical Service Association
    Honeywell FMT
    IBM Software Group
    IIBA Executives BMO Financial
    Intel Corporation
    Kindred Healthcare
    Liberty Mutual
    Lisa DiTullio & Associates
    Luman International
    M&I Bank
    Mayo Clinic
    McKee Foods Corporation
    Microsoft Corporation
    Monetrics LLC NAIC
    National Insurance Producer Registry
    Northeast Florida Chapter of the IIBA
    Oklahoma Dept. of Human Services
    Plains All American
    Plains Marketing MP
    Puget Sound Energy
    Schneider Electric
    Sisters of St. Francis Health Services
    Southern Company
    SunLife Financial
    TCS America
    University of Greenwich
    University of Oklahoma
    University of South Florida
    US Dept. of the Interior
    US Geological Survey
    Value Creation Associates
    Vanguard Group
    Vermont Information Technology Leaders
    Walt Disney World Company
    WEA Trust
    WellDyne Inc.
    Wells Fargo
    Wolters Kluwer

    Register today to secure your spot and add your company to the list above.

    The industry's leading companies will be attending- don't get left behind- gain the skills, insights and techniques you need to be more valuable to yourself and your organization.

    We hope to see you in Orlando this November!

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Getting your virtual team to agree on requirements

    As a seasoned Business Analyst you come to recognize that not all “requirements” are really requirements. Ideally discovery teams first diverge, taking differing positions, identifying all possibilities. Then after carefully examining numerous alternatives, they use a decision-making process to converge on a solution. In a face-to-face workshop you might group, rank, or prioritize ideas, but how can that be accomplished in a distributed forum?

    In my last article, I wrote about using “Virtual Brainstorming” to collect broad input from distributed stakeholders. Now your virtual team will want to winnow the material and transform what’s learned into what’s vital to the task – critical requirements, essential project dependencies, mandatory data, etc. Here are some suggestions on how to analyze brainstormed ideas and distill them into well-defined requirements.

    Decide how you will navigate decisions

    Most decision-making techniques can be accomplished virtually with the right set of tools and ground rules. It can save a lot of headaches if your team can agree on a decision-making process in advance – BEFORE they brainstorm ideas. What will produce an acceptable outcome?

    * Should brainstorming results be handed off to an “expert”, delegating decisions to someone else?
    * How about majority rule; would a simple democratic system work for your team?
    * Would multi-voting (a/k/a “Chicago Style” – 1 person:3 votes) help to determine importance or weight?
    * Would your team prefer to evaluate the pros & cons of each idea then make a group recommendation?
    * Is consensus the goal?

    Experts say consensus techniques are ideal in terms of decisions that are well thought out, of high quality, and generate commitment to support and implement the decisions. As someone who is now more Facilitator than BA, I would have to agree. For more on consensus decision-making see the archive of Gary Rush’s enlightening 2-part article entitled “A Process for Deciding.”
    Use buckets to organize brainstorming ideas

    To consolidate the various ideas generated during a brainstorming session first find the duplicates and closely related ideas, grouping them into “buckets” of similar context. Develop a process for organizing the data, then capturing the “theme” of each bucket. This helps the team recognize their common ground – similar lines of thinking. As they explore how the themes relate and deal with exceptions and variations, the team comes to an even smaller set of workable ideas.

    In a virtual environment this concept is supported by Collaborative Systems (also known as electronic meeting systems, groupware, and group decision support systems) - software specifically designed to address the group processes in problem solving and decision making. Key features enable data input, categorizing, grouping, and voting. More elementary (and less costly) options include Mindmeister’s award-winning free “Mind-Mapping” software, or a shared on-line whiteboard space can be used to collect virtual brainstorming ideas as electronic sticky notes and allow participants to take turns organizing them, as you would an Affinity exercise. I find the key is to avoid information overload for the participants by structuring the data into understandable and readable portions, enabling them to see the patterns of thought.
    Scoring, elimination heats, and determining winners

    Once your choices are narrowed to a manageable field, a survey or polling tool can be used to vote, rank, or prioritize pre-defined selections, on-line or using a telephone keypad. Polls can support a variety of decision-making activities:

    * Allocation across alternatives.
    * Categorize alternatives.
    * Prioritize or rank order from most preferred to least preferred.
    * Rank relevance of subjects/statements from most true to least from your perspective.
    * Rate alternatives on a chosen scale.
    * Score alternatives versus weighted criteria.
    * Select the most preferred alternatives.
    * Vote on alternatives with options to indicate yes, no, or abstain.

    Collaborate with your team to determine criteria that should influence decision-making and the weight placed on decision factors. If there are polarities among your team consider a prioritization process first to highlight the degree of importance they place on the issue. If you have uneven representation in your team, avoid skewing by grouping members of the same department or position; create a level playing field by limiting affiliated positions to just 1 vote per group. When the voting is done, share the results in a bar graph or summary form. Be sure to discuss and document minority opinions as well as favored solutions.

    SurveyMonkey is an example of a survey generator that works well to collect measurable responses in the form of preferences, comparative opinions, yes/no decision, etc., and is available for free. Participants are invited by web-link to the polling site to cast their votes and view results. Web conferencing tools also typically offer live polling features that are used to quickly analyze the group’s direction of thought during a meeting. All the survey tools that I’ve worked with also include features to instantly report the results. Think about how impressive it will be to ask for a virtual show of hands, then instantly display a graph demonstrating the outcome and distribution percentages.

    Applying these techniques

    So how do we put all this into practical use? Try these virtual techniques the next time you face the challenge of converging brainstorming results into “developed” requirements. Here are some applications I’ve had success with:

    * NARROWING DOWN TO ESSENTIAL USE CASES. An initial list of Use Cases was derived from virtual brainstorming using a web conferencing chat feature to collect ideas. The entries were evaluated and categorized in real time by a designated “theme team” of observers, while the main group moved on to other topics. In the next phase the theme team presented their findings as an electronic poll for a prioritization vote.
    * PLANNING PROJECT ACTIVITIES. A team engaged in a web conference dialogue about project assumptions and required tasks was able to observe on-line and guide the creation of an electronic “Mind Map” by a designated scribe.
    * ALIGNING STAKEHOLDER INTERESTS. Expectations were brainstormed on-line with electronic sticky notes, and then the participants were divided into 2 breakout groups via teleconference to complete a virtual Affinity exercise. The designated leaders took turns organizing the sticky notes into affiliated topics at their group’s direction. The full team explored the categories that were developing and differences in the groups’ organization until they could come to consensus, delivering a refined list of project objectives and constraints.

    * EVALUATING CANDIDATE SOLUTIONS. After a software evaluation team came to agreement regarding the weight placed on various evaluation criteria, an electronic survey was launched to collect the ranking of 3 packages being considered. Evaluation team members completed their individual surveys as they finalized their research and testing over a 1 week period. The conclusions were delivered in a report detailing the summary results and the ranking from each individual Evaluator.

    What happened to make each of these virtual collaborations a success? A simple formula of inclusive decision-making combined with effective use of virtual tools. By following these practices your virtual team will have input during the brainstorm, voting, and discussion phases, making them highly engaged during the working session, and truly committed to the decisions that are made. In other words … smooth sailing into the sunset.

    This blog was provided courtesy of Joan Davis and originally appeared on http://www.bridging-the-gap.com/.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Project World Now Accepting "Industry Thought Leader" Applications

    The ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts team is currently accepting proposals for event sponsorship. As a Sponsor/Partner you will have the exclusive opportunity to highlight your expertise and showcase your offerings, while securing your role as an "Industry Thought Leader".

    Our goal is to provide a comprehensive environment that simulates a marketplace whereby the tools, technology and expertise are integrated into the philosophy and offerings of the event. Recognizing partnerships are critical to the success of project management, our goal is to ensure the solutions provided match the needs of our ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts audience.

    If you are interested in exposing your expertise, thought leadership or technology to qualified project management, IT, business analysis professional at Fortune 1000 Companies and you have something new, unique, valuable or revolutionary to showcase then please read on.

    ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts taking place November 8-10, 2010 at the Walt Disney Swan in Orlando, Florida is the premier conference brand for advancing collaboration through practice is doing an OPEN CALL FOR SPONSORSHIPS - providing you with the unparalleled opportunity to connect meaningfully with industry leaders. Current attending companies include: AT&T, Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Boeing, Cabela's Inc., Cadbury Schweppes, Capital One, Carnival Cruise Lines, Caterpillar, Deloitte & Touche, Fannie Mae, Honeywell, IBM, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft Corporation, Prudential, Travelers, UPS, US Dept. of the Interior, Walt Disney World Company, Wells Fargo and more.

    To ensure our attendees are being exposed to the latest tools, solutions and technologies, we are now accepting submissions for a limited number of presentations, branded opportunities and exhibit spots. If you are selected you will be contacted with more information and pricing details for our sponsorship and exhibition packages, all of which can be customized based on your specific marketing goals and objectives.

    Please submit a one-to three-page written profile outlining your company's innovative product, process, or solution addressing the following data points in the format outlined below. We will review and notify you of the status of your application once the review process in completed (approximately 1 week).

    1. Name of the tool, solution, technology

    2. Summary of the innovation/solution including:

    a. What problem does your innovative product/service solve?

    b. How is your product/solution unique?

    c. What is the significance and importance of this innovation to you and the industry?

    d. What type of exposure are you looking to secure?

    e. How important is branding to your company?

    Submit profiles electronically to: Jon Saxe at jsaxe@iirusa.com.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    PMs & BAs Learn New Skill Sets for the Future

    Have you had a chance to look over the agenda, and see why ProjectWorld® &World Congress for Business Analysts® is the can't miss event of the year for project managers and business analysts?

    We are excited to invite you to join us November 8-10 in Orlando, FL Take a look at all the new content and networking opportunities.

    The chance to network with over 200 professionals in the project management and business analysis insights industries.

    Visit www.projectworld.com to see a snapshot of the types of people you'll meet and get to know.

    The latest and greatest for all your hot buttons.
    The agenda covers: Project Management Office, Agile, Business Rules, Project Portfolio Management, the PM/BA Partnership, the Future of IT, Building Project Management and Business Analysis Skill Sets for the Future, Collaboration, Communication & Leadership, Tools, Techniques & Trends, and much more.

    Earn up to 36 PDUs/CDUs with just one conference investment.
    It's important to keep up-to-date on your professional education credits, and we're making it easier for you - earn almost half of the necessary credits in one place. (That's more than half of the PDUs/CDUs needed to maintain your certification!)

    Face time with counterparts in your industry.
    Enjoy an interactive environment where you can discuss issues with your peers that are privy to your own industry.

    Your Space & World Café Collaborative Activities.
    Participate in brainstorming and conversation with your peers to ask and answer the critical questions you have about your PM and BA needs.

    Official Event Executive Summary.
    Get a wrap up of all the key topics and deliverables revealed throughout PW&WCBA's sessions in a document you can take back and share with your colleagues.

    NEW for 2010! We're offering a NEW year-round comprehensive learning experience. Within one conference package you'll receive exclusive access to the 2010 on-demand Web Seminar Series PLUS, access to the live PW&WCBA conference in November. That's up to 36 PDUs/CDUs in just one package!

    The industry's leading companies will be attending- don't get left behind- gain the skills, insights and techniques you need to be more valuable to yourself and your organization.

    We hope to see you in Orlando this November!

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    ProjectBest Practices: It's a Small World & the Value of PMO

    This Newsletter has been brought to you by ... ProjectWorld® & The World Congress for Business Analysts USA®

    I have conducted a significant amount of international business this year. While spanning the globe, I realized it is a small, small world.

    Countries, cultures and landscapes may differ, but project management challenges in business today seem eerily similar.

    Here are some common trends I observe:

    • PMO's continue to get a bad rap
    • Project managers like to collect tools and templates with little thought to their value in supporting project needs or improve project practices
    • Project teams are difficult to manage
    • Project managers don't receive the respect they deserve
    • Executives still don't get it

    Beginning today and throughout future issues, I will provide my thoughts on each of these topics. Let's start with #1. In spite of increasing evidence showing direct correlation to project/business results when a PMO exists, organizations continue to have a love/hate relationship with PMO's. I believe there are five business values you can expect with a PMO:

    1. Speed as a competitive advantage. An easy-to-use project management methodology enables people to move from vision to completion quickly.
    2. Customer Satisfaction. Organizations that adopt project management see improvements in customer satisfaction. Because many projects are focused on product development, operations and process improvements, they directly improve the experience of the customer.
    3. Proven Results. Monitoring project activities can improve overall project performance. Having "big brother" monitor project progress keeps people focused and driven.
    4. Optimize Resources. Balancing resources between project needs and operational demands is tricky. Organizations that have project offices are better at managing limited resources to meet both needs.
    5. Knowledge is Power. By capturing best practices and knowing what is and isn't working, companies can turn that information into insight and continuously improve project results supporting business success.

    Declaring PMO value and sustaining it must mean relating back to business value. Does your PMO have a value proposition?

    Now its time for you to join the conversation - Share your ideas, suggestions and thoughts on what the successful project manager looks like on our LIVE discussion on LinkedIn.

    Contributor: Lisa DiTullio (Lisa DiTullio & Associates)

    Earn up to 36 PDUs in one ticket. Register today.
    ProjectWorld® & The World Congress for Business Analysts®
    November 8-10, 2010 | Walt Disney World Swan, Orlando, FL
    Be sure to visit www.projectworld.com for tools, articles, templates and event updates.

    Interested in sponsoring? Contact Melissa Ashley, mashley@iirusa.com mashley@iirusa.com.

    Get ProjectNews hot off the presses! Please click on the following link to subscribe: http://www.iirusa.com/optin. If you have any colleagues or friends you think would be interested, please feel free to share this with them!

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Resolving conflicts within your team

    No matter the project size, when the going gets rough, conflicts seem to rear their ugly heads. As a Project Manager, its your responsibility to ensure that the projects get through on time and on budget, and sometimes the only barriers to this success is your team. Blame egos, blame bad reporting structures, blame whatever you'd like - conflicts are unavoidable. Thankfully, we have a reminder today on how to resolve these conflicts with Gina Abudi of ProjectSmart.co.uk. Abudi writes, that a great starting point is to sit down with the team members and listen to their complaints.

    Check out Abudi's outline for the discussion:

    Schedule a first meeting with the individuals who are having the conflict to discuss:
    • What is (are) the issue(s)? Get it all out on the table - let them vent.
    • What are their perspectives?
    • Work with the parties to develop criteria for solutions to their conflict.
    • Ask them to think about what they can do to get past the issue, or put it aside, based on the criteria for resolution they agreed to, in order to move forward with working together. What alternatives exist? This should happen overnight - let them sleep on it.
    Abudi offers that subsequent meetings may be needed in order to resolve this conflict within your team. Be sure to check out the article for details.

    Resolving Project Team Conflicts

    How do you handle conflicts within your team? Let us know on Twitter @Project_World

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Are you using Agile on personal projects?

    Great article today from Michele Sliger who asked her Twitter followers whether or not anyone was using an agile technique to help them plan their individual efforts and if they were, what were they using. Sliger found that many of the respondents were using Personal Kanban. Find out more about Personal Kanban here. What is interesting about Sliger's piece is that she showcased a very practical, very "old school" way of organizing our personal time. As project managers, we are inundated with the next software, planning system or meeting style to get our project done on time and on budget. But how awesome is it to have something as simple as a Personal Kanban to keep track of all of the little projects that may not fall into the digital sector? What other techniques to you use to keep your personal projects going?

    Be sure to check out Michele Sliger's blog for more information.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Complimentary Webinar: Proud's and Sorry's for Agile Project Management and Business Analysis

    Date: Wed, Sep 22, 2010
    Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EDT
    Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/332931945
    Priority code: M2220W1Blog

    Get a preview of the new Agile Summit taking place at the Project World® & World Congress for Business Analysts® when some of our Agile Summit speakers share a taste of their journey to agile. In a matter-of-fact roundtable style, your Summit speakers-- representing a cross-industry managers and analysts on the front lines-- share their “prouds” and “sorrys” of transitioning to agile.

    The roundtable discussion cover four unique themes:
    • Delivering Value
    • Teamwork and Collaboration
    • Technical Practices
    • Communication and Change
    Facilitated by agile coach and requirements expert Ellen Gottesdiener, join us to learn essential kudos and regrets from your industry peers who are in the midst of making agile work in their organization. Don’t miss this freewheeling yet frank exchange.

    Roundtable Participants:
    • Manoj Vadakkan, Agile Coach/ Release Manager, CGI Federal
    • Susan Block, Lead Business Systems Analyst, The Vanguard Group
    • Janet Bartz, Head of Section, Information Technology, Education Support Systems, Mayo Clinic
    • David Grabel, Director, Applications Development, Monetrics
    Moderated by Ellen Gottesdiner, Founder/Principal Consultant, EBG Consulting, Inc.

    Register for the webinar below