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 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

    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

    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