What’s New

Rewind Expands Cloud Backup Solution Portfolio with Addition of Backups for Jira

 PM News by ProjectManagerNews.com. 

OTTAWA, March 31, 2022 – Rewind, today announced the launch of Backups for Jira, an automated backup and on-demand data recovery tool that protects a Jira Cloud Instance and all associated data. The addition of Backups for Jira strengthens Rewind’s extensive suite of cloud backup and recovery solutions, which already provides comprehensive support for BigCommerce, GitHub, Microsoft 365, QuickBooks Online, Shopify, Shopify Plus, and Trello. 

“Millions of teams rely on Atlassian’s cloud products every day to power companies from the youngest startup to the largest Fortune 100 enterprises,” said Matt Sonefeldt, Head of Atlassian Ventures. “We invested in Rewind’s Series B round because we share the belief that SaaS data should always be accessible for all the businesses that rely on it.”

Today there are over 200,000 Atlassian customers relying on its products, with more than 60% of the Fortune 500 using Jira Software in the cloud. Backups for Jira can be installed and set up in minutes without any complicated configurations. Users can rapidly restore data across Jira including in Projects, Issues, Boards, Epics, Sprints, and more. Pricing of Backups for Jira starts at $4 per user. Learn more here

As cloud use increases, data recovery becomes more important. A recent report predicts that by 2030, the global SaaS market will top $702 billion, about three times what it is today. Rewind has found that over 40% of SaaS users have already suffered data loss. 

“In the coming years, the most successful modern companies will either be SaaS or rely on SaaS, which means they will become increasingly dependent on remote software to run daily operations. Businesses will need to quickly recover when disasters strike,” said Mike Potter, CEO and co-founder of Rewind. “We are thrilled to further our mission to protect the vital SaaS tools businesses rely on every day with the launch of Backups for Jira on World Backup Day.”

In addition, timed in support of World Backup Day (March 31st), Rewind also launched a fun new game – Cover Your SaaS – that brings a touch of fun while building awareness of all the different threats businesses face regarding SaaS data loss. Educating businesses on the risks of data loss will be essential over the coming years as SaaS adoption continues to increase at a staggering rate. See if you can fend off your SaaS data threats; try the game here.

About Rewind

Since 2015, Rewind has been on a mission to help businesses protect their SaaS and cloud data.  Over 100,000 customers in more than 100 countries have trusted Rewind’s top-reviewed apps and support to ensure their software-as-a-service applications run uninterrupted. The Rewind platform enables companies to back up, restore, and copy the critical data that drives their business. 

How To Make A Project Roadmap In A Hybrid World

 PM News by ProjectManagerNews.com. 

Product managers are often challenged with massive projects that are riddled with pressing deadlines, requiring cross-team collaboration and pointed objectives. How can they concisely explain to project stakeholders how the project will unfold without breaking down every last detail?

Defining a Project Roadmap

This is where a project roadmap comes into play—it’s a simple, high-level summary of your project that clearly lays out project milestones, deliverables and objectives. Project roadmaps are easy-to-understand documents that are visually appealing and can be shared with anyone on your team. This unique tool has a different purpose than similar project documents such as a milestone chart, project plan or project charter. 

From IT strategies to marketing plans to new business development, nearly any project or industry can benefit from a project roadmap. As the working landscape shifts from in-office to increasingly remote, project roadmaps become that much more important in keeping all stakeholders aligned. 

Defining Hybrid Work

Hybrid work extends beyond physical working location. A complete definition of hybrid work refers to a working environment where teams are separated by location, work style preference and the unique data and insights required by various cross-functional roles. For instance, while the project manager may gravitate toward a traditional waterfall approach for planning and execution, some team members may prefer an agile methodology or even a simple task list. Yet somehow these various work styles need to roll up into a cohesive, cross-team plan.

Without the right project management tools or strategy in place, hybrid teams may face unique yet consistent challenges such as:

  • Reduced visibility into project progress with no one single place to see updates
  • Inefficient, siloed communication
  • Difficulties managing resources such as time and budget
  • A lack of project governance as projects are requested and executed in unpredictable ways
  • Reporting difficulties 

As teams are separated by physical location, work style preferences and roles, they require access to a deliverable to which they can refer at every point in the project. Project roadmaps for hybrid teams can help bridge the gap between inconsistencies in the location, role and skills of team members for a simpler path forward. 

Why Are Project Roadmaps Important for Hybrid Product Teams?

Project roadmaps essentially act as a line of communication throughout the project. Not only does it provide a high-level overview of the timeline, but it explains the phases. Project roadmaps are a simple yet powerful tool to keep both stakeholders and project managers aligned with the strategy and execution of the project. 

There are many benefits to using project roadmaps for both in-office and hybrid teams:

  • Easily and quickly communicate project plans and goals that everyone regardless of role or location can understand
  • Manage stakeholder expectations
  • Communicate plans with other internal and external teams or organizations
  • Hit non-negotiable deadlines and deliverables while making room for other last-minute variables and changes 

How to Create a Project Roadmap

To move forward with creating a project roadmap for a hybrid team, here are the following implementation steps. 

  1. Create a Project Overview

Determine a high-level overview of the goals and objectives of the project. No need to include in-depth details in this section as you can explain them in your project charter. 

  1. Identify Project Risks

What could make the project fail? Make sure to outline risks including the project plan, scope, stakeholder expectations, quality assurance and more. Outlining the risks is also important for hybrid team members so they are aware of potential downfalls or roadblocks in the project. 

  1. Map Out Key Milestones and Deliverables 

Make sure to include a schedule overview that outlines key milestones and deliverables. This is particularly important for hybrid teams so they know exactly what tasks need to be completed within a particular time frame. 

  1. Define Dependencies

Note the high-level project deliverables and how they’re connected to one another. Consider using a Gantt chart software tool that makes linking dependencies easy and visually appealing. 

  1. Evaluate Resources

Resources refer to both human resources such as your project team and physical resources such as materials. Clearly define these resources to give team members a better understanding of how they can (and should) spend their time. 

  1. Identify Key Individuals

List who the key players are in the project, their role and how to contact them.

  1. Schedule a Kickoff Meeting

Prepare a kickoff meeting agenda so it’s clear to all team members and stakeholders what comes next. Once the key milestones and deliverables are in place, it is up to the individual team members to determine how to best execute against the roadmap. While many of these deliverables could be projects unto themselves, a project roadmap rolls it into one easy-to-view location.

Project Roadmaps for Hybrid Teams: Key Takeaways

Project roadmaps are useful on their own, but for hybrid product  teams, they are a critical component of a successful project. As communication and collaboration are key elements of project roadmaps, they can be used to make pivotal decisions regarding the project. Ideally, the roadmap should be updated throughout the lifecycle of the project as a real-time status report for team members.

By implementing project roadmaps, hybrid teams gain the visibility, flexibility and single source of truth they need to overcome challenges of working from different locations, gravitating toward unique work styles and honing in on their individual skills.

How To Make A Project Roadmap In A Hybrid World

 PM News by ProjectManagerNews.com. 

Product managers are often challenged with massive projects that are riddled with pressing deadlines, requiring cross-team collaboration and pointed objectives. How can they concisely explain to project stakeholders how the project will unfold without breaking down every last detail?

Defining a Project Roadmap

This is where a project roadmap comes into play—it’s a simple, high-level summary of your project that clearly lays out project milestones, deliverables and objectives. Project roadmaps are easy-to-understand documents that are visually appealing and can be shared with anyone on your team. This unique tool has a different purpose than similar project documents such as a milestone chart, project plan or project charter. 

From IT strategies to marketing plans to new business development, nearly any project or industry can benefit from a project roadmap. As the working landscape shifts from in-office to increasingly remote, project roadmaps become that much more important in keeping all stakeholders aligned. 

Defining Hybrid Work

Hybrid work extends beyond physical working location. A complete definition of hybrid work refers to a working environment where teams are separated by location, work style preference and the unique data and insights required by various cross-functional roles. For instance, while the project manager may gravitate toward a traditional waterfall approach for planning and execution, some team members may prefer an agile methodology or even a simple task list. Yet somehow these various work styles need to roll up into a cohesive, cross-team plan.

Without the right project management tools or strategy in place, hybrid teams may face unique yet consistent challenges such as:

  • Reduced visibility into project progress with no one single place to see updates
  • Inefficient, siloed communication
  • Difficulties managing resources such as time and budget
  • A lack of project governance as projects are requested and executed in unpredictable ways
  • Reporting difficulties 

As teams are separated by physical location, work style preferences and roles, they require access to a deliverable to which they can refer at every point in the project. Project roadmaps for hybrid teams can help bridge the gap between inconsistencies in the location, role and skills of team members for a simpler path forward. 

Why Are Project Roadmaps Important for Hybrid Product Teams?

Project roadmaps essentially act as a line of communication throughout the project. Not only does it provide a high-level overview of the timeline, but it explains the phases. Project roadmaps are a simple yet powerful tool to keep both stakeholders and project managers aligned with the strategy and execution of the project. 

There are many benefits to using project roadmaps for both in-office and hybrid teams:

  • Easily and quickly communicate project plans and goals that everyone regardless of role or location can understand
  • Manage stakeholder expectations
  • Communicate plans with other internal and external teams or organizations
  • Hit non-negotiable deadlines and deliverables while making room for other last-minute variables and changes 

How to Create a Project Roadmap

To move forward with creating a project roadmap for a hybrid team, here are the following implementation steps. 

  1. Create a Project Overview

Determine a high-level overview of the goals and objectives of the project. No need to include in-depth details in this section as you can explain them in your project charter. 

  1. Identify Project Risks

What could make the project fail? Make sure to outline risks including the project plan, scope, stakeholder expectations, quality assurance and more. Outlining the risks is also important for hybrid team members so they are aware of potential downfalls or roadblocks in the project. 

  1. Map Out Key Milestones and Deliverables 

Make sure to include a schedule overview that outlines key milestones and deliverables. This is particularly important for hybrid teams so they know exactly what tasks need to be completed within a particular time frame. 

  1. Define Dependencies

Note the high-level project deliverables and how they’re connected to one another. Consider using a Gantt chart software tool that makes linking dependencies easy and visually appealing. 

  1. Evaluate Resources

Resources refer to both human resources such as your project team and physical resources such as materials. Clearly define these resources to give team members a better understanding of how they can (and should) spend their time. 

  1. Identify Key Individuals

List who the key players are in the project, their role and how to contact them.

  1. Schedule a Kickoff Meeting

Prepare a kickoff meeting agenda so it’s clear to all team members and stakeholders what comes next. Once the key milestones and deliverables are in place, it is up to the individual team members to determine how to best execute against the roadmap. While many of these deliverables could be projects unto themselves, a project roadmap rolls it into one easy-to-view location.

Project Roadmaps for Hybrid Teams: Key Takeaways

Project roadmaps are useful on their own, but for hybrid product  teams, they are a critical component of a successful project. As communication and collaboration are key elements of project roadmaps, they can be used to make pivotal decisions regarding the project. Ideally, the roadmap should be updated throughout the lifecycle of the project as a real-time status report for team members.

By implementing project roadmaps, hybrid teams gain the visibility, flexibility and single source of truth they need to overcome challenges of working from different locations, gravitating toward unique work styles and honing in on their individual skills.

VUCA, BANI and Digital Transformation: Managing Radical Change

PM Articles by Project Times. 

Radical change is in the air. On a global level, the world order has been disrupted by war, pestilence, the rise of authoritarianism, and the obscuration of what ‘truth’ means. Add to this the confluence of digital transformation, hybrid, and remote work, and economic disruption and we have radical change. It is the kind of change that makes reliance on history and traditional coping techniques ineffective. It brings great uncertainty.

Everything is changing and there is no telling where it will take us.

Project and program managers, organizational leaders, technologists, and all who are affected by the results of transformation must master working with people undergoing change. To be a master of change is to personally be able to stay calm and focused when faced with chaos – to manage one’s own change response. Then effective action is possible.

On an organizational level, mastery is evidenced by transition planning and execution with an emphasis on the human factor – emotional and social intelligence, resistance to change, training, ongoing support, flexibility, resilience, acceptance.

Radical Change

“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.” —  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Radical change is a change that has a great impact. It is a revolution. It is transformation, metamorphosis. After a radical change, the caterpillar is no longer a caterpillar.

Radical change is not particularly new in world history. Just in the last few hundred years, we have had fundamental changes to the fabric of society – the printing press, the industrial revolution, capitalism, communism, the advent of electricity and electronics, radio, TV, world wars, computers, medical breakthroughs, nuclear weaponry, social media, and more.

Digital Transformation

In the realm of organizations, digital and business transformations are radical changes. Projects, and programs start and keep the change rolling to a desired new way of being.

Digital Transformation implies business transformation. It is a complex change that relies on people performing processes that use technology. Transformation shakes up the organization, its processes, and its roles and responsibilities. Jobs will go, relationships will change, new skills and a new way of thinking will be needed.

Back in 2017, for a presentation to CIOs, I wrote, The goal is to execute a strategy that provides effective, secure, and adaptable IT capabilities to enable business innovation and sustainability. Managing digital transformation means organizing, motivating, and empowering technology and business stakeholders to address long-term needs, technology trends, human needs, and uncertainty.”

I highlighted the need for cognitive readiness – “The capacity to adapt to a complex and unpredictable environment, to moderate volatility, accept uncertainty, acknowledge the complexity and minimize ambiguity to enable optimal performance.”

While digital transformation is not war in your homeland, it strikes at basic needs for security, belonging, and recognition. It presents an opportunity to work through the anxiety and stress to manage the change. It is an opportunity to cultivate self-actualization – “to become everything one is capable of becoming.”[1]

When digital transformation is seriously undertaken there is complex change on multiple levels. There is no solid ground, we are in free fall. And this brings us to the concepts of VUCA and BANI.

VUCA and BANI

VUCA has become a familiar term to many. It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. A more recent acronym, BANI, refers to extreme VUCA, VUCAn .

Things are unfolding moment to moment. We are faced with extreme, instable, chaotic, surprising, and disorienting situations. BANI (brittleness, anxiety, non-linearity, and incomprehensibility) is an acronym that has come into use to help find ways to handle this kind of change.

  • Brittleness refers to being in new and uncharted situation. It is brittle because rigidity sets in – wanting to hold on to the way things were, wanting control.
  • Anxiety is caused by facing the unknown and lacking control. Beyond anxiety there is existential fear – “Will I lose my job? “Will I and those I love to survive?”
  • Non-linearity is the realization that we are in a highly complex situation with multiple dimensions spiraling in multiple directions. This feeds anxiety and incomprehensibility.
  • Incomprehensibility – we can’t get the mind around the situation unless we go beyond intellect, use intuition, and accept the freedom of not knowing.

Preparation, Acceptance, and Resilience

Digital transformation need not be a BANI experience. Anxiety can be avoided and managed with the right attitude and effective planning and execution. We can make the change comprehensible through analysis, communication, and training. We can make the brittle change supple by getting better at flexible planning and openness to change.

To manage extreme circumstances, cultivate

1) The abilities to accept, relax, stop resisting, allow things to be how they are. Remember, acceptance means being realistic about what you can and cannot change. It is the platform for effective action. Acceptance enables resilience.

2) Resilience and the confidence that you can handle anything that comes. Resilience means to recover and carry on. It is best understood as going through a difficult event and coming out of the experience better than you were before. Resilience relies on acceptance.

Leading through Transformation

To succeed leaders must engender innovation, resiliency, clear thinking, and collaboration throughout the organization.

In a recent interview, Professor Linda Hill highlighted the need for interpersonal and self-awareness skills to manage digital transformation and to be effective leaders in general. Part of their transformation is to not only cultivate their own skills but to ensure that the whole organization cultivate theirs. [2]

Digital transformation, pandemic, war, and socio-economic unrest combine to create anxiety and resistance to change as people realize that they are faced with the unknown in an extremely complex environment – VUCAn, BANI, free fall, non-linear, out of control, incomprehensible, no direction home.

To succeed, everyone, leaders and all the rest need self-awareness, emotional intelligence, systems thinking, and the ability to “let go” into the unknown, accepting the loss of the comforts of the past.

Professor Hill’s studies say that organizations at the forefront of digital transformation “hired coaches to work with the C-suite to help them figure out how to be effective leaders that were creating an environment in which people want to be willing and able to innovate.” [3]

Coaching and support are needed throughout the organization. This may happen naturally as C-suite people understand the need and act upon their understanding. Otherwise, those who understand the nature of the change they are experiencing can work to convince leadership that people-focus is a significant success factor.

See my Project Times article, “Welcoming Uncertainty with Self-awareness”[4] for more on this subject.

[1] https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html Maslow, 1987, p. 64

[2] https://hbr.org/2022/03/hbs-professor-linda-hill-says-leaders-must-engage-with-emotions-as-never-before?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=dailyalert_actsubs&utm_content=signinnudge&deliveryName=DM181563

[3] Ibid

[4]  https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/welcoming-uncertainty-with-self-awareness/

Progressive PMOs are harnessing the power of Citizen Developers

PM Articles by Project Times. 

A few of my colleagues raise eyebrows when I mention that I used to be a programmer back in the days, I am not talking about assembly language, but I could write a few things in Java and C++. Recently I picked up some new skills creating Power Apps, connecting data with Microsoft Dataverse, building Power BI Dashboards, automating processes with Power Automate, and building chatbots with Power Virtual Agents whilst preparing for Microsoft’s Power Platform Fundamentals certification. This is part of a growing trend of what has been termed Citizen Development.

Citizen development is an innovative approach to dealing with application development needs that a lot of Project Management Offices (PMOs) are now adopting. This innovative and inclusive approach to application development addresses the ever-increasing need for PMOs to keep abreast with technological change and the associated demand for user-friendly, hassle-free applications. Enterprise Technology departments are not always best to shoulder all the responsibilities related to digital transformation.

That’s where the inclusive idea of citizen development comes in as a broad-based and innovative solution. It enables project managers and implementers to develop applications on their own and in accordance with the most pressing PMO needs. Of course, they need to have advanced level of digital skills to use the low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms, but with those skills taken for granted, almost any team member could take a stab at it.

Citizen development has multiple benefits for the PMO and project management. By project management, I mean its agile and strategic version. Initially, this is far better for the current needs of success-oriented PMOs. Although traditional, waterfall types of project management would also gain. The benefits span many different sectors, whether it be public sector agencies, financial services, or non-governmental organizations. There is growing evidence that citizen development works, and that it works well for both organizations and individual employees. Let us examine what these benefits are and why they are important for the PMO and project management, irrespective of the field.

Cost-Effectiveness

This is an obvious one. With application development demands being extremely taxing on Enterprise Technology departments, LCNC platforms provide substantial cost-saving opportunities to PMOs. PMOs can thus channel the savings to other, under-resourced needs. Experts estimate that by using LCNC resources, applications can be developed 10 times faster when compared with traditional methods.

PMOs can also expect savings on the maintenance of the new applications. Maintenance and application support are normally separate line items in operational budgets. Higher-end products usually require significant inputs to avoid disruptions and breakdown. The maintenance and support cost are minimal for the applications developed by citizen developers. The overall cost to develop and maintain LCNC -based applications is estimated to be 74% lower than the cost of traditional development led by Enterprise Technology resources. In addition, LCNC platforms hosting present sizable cost reductions, as shown by the experience of Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance. The company was able to save $1.4 million because of creative use of LCNC tools.

Breaking Down Silos

As citizen developers engage in software or application development, coordination with other business units of an organization becomes an absolute must. LCNC platforms do not require expert digital skills to use, but they need citizen developers to ensure that the end products are relevant to the PMO’s needs. From the perspective of effective PMO role, this is a great way of breaking down silos, which exist in all organizations. Improved teamwork and camaraderie are the important by-products of citizen development, which have long-term benefits. Citizen developers cannot go it alone, and it always takes a team effort to ensure that the end-product meets the critical needs of an organization. Importantly, this includes coordination of Enterprise Technology and non- Enterprise Technology resources too.

Agility

Citizen development also has the potential to make the PMO more agile. It expects non- Enterprise Technology resources to demonstrate adaptability and willingness to learn – two key attributes of an agile organization. From the perspective of the PMO, citizen development becomes a new and unconventional way of spurring continuous learning as an iterative and inclusive process.

Innovation and Creativity

By encouraging non-Enterprise Technology department resources to become software and application developers, PMOs can create a workspace conducive to creativity and innovation. As it happens, when people are given space and opportunity to punch above their weight, they usually outdo themselves by coming up with something extraordinary. Citizen development consequently becomes a great approach to egging people on to think outside the box. Agile organizations need to be innovative and creative. Equally, they need to be adaptive and committed to continuous learning.

Digitisation and Organizational Culture

The more employees get involved in citizen development, the better for the PMO and digital transformation. As PMOs take steps to adapt to the needs of digital transformation, citizen development becomes a timely and cost-effective method. It nurtures an organizational culture favourable for project resources and other non-Enterprise Technology resources to embrace change and make it work for themselves and the organization. It is this type of culture that becomes pivotal in weathering the storm of imminent changes and making the most of new opportunities for development.

Relevance and Flexibility

The involvement of PMO resources as citizen developers warrants the relevance of newly developed software and applications. No one could be more intrinsically motivated to ensure that they serve the purpose than the end-users themselves. I’m sure you can recall cases when even very expensive IT products turned out to be missing the mark. When developed in isolation from an organization’s core strategic goals and needs, they become underutilized. With less stringent requirements imposed; citizen developers have more flexibility to adjust as they go. As application development becomes faster, citizen development makes it easier to maintain the end products.

Summary

Citizen development has been winning over an increasing number of progressive PMOs and organizations. There is growing evidence that it leads to substantial cost-savings, encourages innovation, and makes organizations more agile. PMOs use it effectively to ease the workload of Enterprise Technology resources. Such departments are often understaffed or incapable of dealing with an ever-increasing list of requests and demands.

Citizen development makes a valuable contribution to an organizational culture that promotes creativity and initiative. In the current era of digital transformation, it is critical for agile organizations to create opportunities for their employees. This is to test and improve their digital skills. The experience of organizations that have embraced LCNC platforms for their non-Enterprise Technology resources to develop new applications shows that citizen development is definitely worth the effort.

Project Management Institute Now Accepting Nominations for 2022 Professional Awards & Announces New Award Categories 

 PM News by ProjectManagerNews.com. 

What: Project Management Institute (PMI) – the world’s leading professional association for project professionals and changemakers worldwide – is now accepting nominations for its 2022 PMI® Professional Awards. The PMI Professional Awards celebrate the work that leads us forward – and those who make it possible. PMI has announced new award categories for 2022:  

·       PMI® Project of the Year Award 

·       PMI® Large and Mega Project Award 

·       PMI® Small and Mid-Size Project Award 

Others include: 

·       PMI® PMO of the Year Award 

·       PMI® Fellow Award 

·       PMI® Eric Jenett Person of the Year Award 

·       PMI® Rising Leader Award (Formerly Young Professional Award) 

Who: Nominate the people, PMOs, and project achievements that made a difference in 2021. Eligibility varies from award to award. Some awards require PMI membership, others do not. Please review each award description for details. 

Why: Through innovation, collaboration, and a dedication to outcomes that matter, project leaders model the qualities that drive the world forward – leading us all towards a brighter future. Since 1974, through its prestigious PMI Professional Awards, PMI has honored organizations, project professionals and changemakers whose passion, talent, and expertise have made the greatest contributions to the project management profession and PMI. Award winners will be promoted across PMI social accounts and properties.   

When: Deadline for entry is 31 March 2022. Awards will be announced during PMI Global Summit in Fall 2022. 

Where: For more information about the 2022 PMI Professional Awards including award categories, entry instructions and FAQs visit https://professionalawards.pmi.org

Choosing Scrum over Kanban – Why we Switched

PM Articles by Project Times. 

As we set out on the Agile journey, picking Kanban seemed like a no-brainer. It is visual, easy to use, and a perfect fit for the PM tool we have been developing. However, after a short few months, we realized Scrum was indeed a better fit and switched.

Here is our story, hopefully, it will give you some insights.

Why did we choose Kanban?

As a small engineering team with a new product (we develop a project management tool called Teamhood) we had no strict timeliness or process to follow. Thus, Kanban seemed like a perfect fit. It allowed us to visualize what is happening, prioritize the most important items and track their progress.

The team would meet for a daily standup to discuss progress and monthly retrospectives would be held to see what could be improved. All of this was great up until the product beta went live and the focus of the engineering team had to shift.

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Why did it not work?

With the launch of our beta version, we got the first paying customers. Yay! But with that came customer expectation management and a need to provide reliable forecasts for the new features.

With the engineering team working in Kanban, the sales and marketing teams had issues in knowing when to expect new features. In result of that, they were not able to plan timely marketing and sales actions to promote the new features that were coming out.

Moreover, the clients needed to know when specific features would be live, and the engineering team was not able to provide those answers. As such, we knew it was time to change.

How Scrum improved our process

Thus, instead of Kanban, we switched over to Scrum and introduced new practices to improve the process.

First, we have chosen 2-week iterations to ease estimation and feature predictability. Now we had to think about which features can be delivered in two weeks’ time and commit to them. This was especially useful for the sales and marketing teams that were communicating with existing and potential customers.

We have also divided the work into several boards to better separate different processes. Design, Roadmap planning, Backlog, UI/UK, and Development are all done on different boards, thus better categorizing all of the work items.

We have introduced various new ceremonies to make sure all the processes are under control. Roadmap planning and prioritizations, Backlog review, Backlog planning, Backlog refinement, Backlog planning, and others were added to make sure we are delivering value to our customers and working on the most important features.

Lastly, we have started using T-shirt sizes to estimate the features. This helps us ensure each feature we commit to can be delivered during one iteration. Otherwise, we rework the feature to make sure it can fit the iteration or push it back to the drawing board.

What’s next?

We have successfully moved away from Kanban and into Scrum territory. However, this Scrum application is far from the textbook. In fact, some could argue that it is far more resembling Scrumban. I don’t disagree.

Will we move towards full Scrum in the future? No one knows. However, we will not do it just for the name. Instead of applying any of the practices blindly, we tend to look and see what works best for the process and our needs now.

Have you changed Agile practices with your team? I would love to hear your comments.

Principles of eCommerce Project Management

PM Articles by Project Times. 

What is eCommerce Project Management and Why is it Important?

eCommerce project management is the application of knowledge skills, tools, and techniques in a structured manner to reach eCommerce project goals and requirements. Proper project management can improve a business’s efficiency, foster collaboration between teammates, boost a team’s performance, and improve customer satisfaction. eCommerce project management differs from traditional project management because online businesses function differently at a fundamental level. For example, the storefront management component of a traditional business isn’t relevant to completely digital companies.

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Methods of eCommerce Project Management

  • Lean Project Management

Lean project management is an iterative process, meaning it is meant to be updated continuously until the desired outcome is met. The primary objective of lean project management is to deliver value to the client. This is done by polishing the final product at each stage in the management process, rather than focusing on a long-term implementation plan. In this sense, lean project management is a more reactive process than other management methods.

  • Agile Project Management

Agile project management is another iterative form of management similar to lean project management. The primary difference with agile project management is that each phase of the process focuses on a new element of the final product rather than refining the product at each step. Agile project management also allows for customer feedback to be gathered and implemented very quickly. Flexibility is the primary benefit of agile project management.

  • Waterfall Project Management

Waterfall project management is the oldest method of project management that is still common today. The waterfall project management method is sequential instead of iterative. In this method, the entire project is planned at the beginning of the process. This includes research and development, product introduction, and product launching. The primary benefit of the waterfall method is that your team will have a solid final goal to work towards and an overall sense of direction. However, this method of project management is pretty rigid and does not adapt well to customer feedback or new ideas for implementation.

Scrum project management has a strong focus on collaboration between team members. Scrum management usually involves short, frequent, oftentimes daily, meetings where team members review project progress, discuss the problems they are facing and plan the objectives for the day. These frequent meetings make it easy to ensure that every member of a team is on the same page. The scrum process is divided into phases known as sprints. Each sprint focuses on creating a ready-to-use product that can be refined in later sprints.

Kanban is similar to the scrum style of project management due to its use of sprints, but the lifecycle of each sprint is shorter than in the scrum method. The Kanban management style is also more flexible than scrum because it allows for project elements to be refined whenever necessary, not just in later sprints. Kanban focuses on continuous changes and updates that contribute to overall task progress.

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

How to Plan Your eCommerce Projects

The planning process of your eCommerce project will vary depending on the style of project management you have implemented, but there are a few crucial aspects that are present in any eCommerce planning process.

  • Competitor Analysis

The eCommerce market is growing rapidly and has a fierce amount of competition. Competitor analysis will give you valuable insights into the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, which can benefit you in a few different ways. Firstly, these insights will allow your business to adapt. You’ll be able to avoid the mistakes that other companies have made and implement strategies that have worked. Secondly, competitor analysis will show you what makes your business unique compared to other companies. This will enable your business to focus on a niche in the market that you can better serve.

  • Website Planning and Business Optimization

Having a fast, intuitive website that is easy to use is incredibly important to eCommerce businesses. If your website doesn’t offer customers a good user experience, then it is unlikely that they’ll return to make another purchase. Creating a memorable website goes beyond the design and structure of your website, it should also have modern functionality such as responsive windows and automation. Many online shoppers today make purchases through mobile devices so your eCommerce business’s website should be capable of responding to different screen sizes. Websites that function well on multiple devices generally outperform unoptimized websites. Many consumers also expect websites to have automated functions. Automation can also streamline certain business operations. For example, shipping APIs can streamline warehouse processes and allow more orders to be fulfilled.

  • Advertising

Advertising is important for businesses of all sizes in any industry. There are several channels that can be used for advertising. These include physical advertisements, influencer campaigns, social media profiles, and digital advertisements. Social media is arguably the most important advertising channel for eCommerce businesses because it offers them a means of two-way engagement with potential customers.

Welcoming Uncertainty with Self-awareness

PM Articles by Project Times. 

Everyone confronts fear. Either they maintain clear-minded focus or react with denial or panic.

Individuals, teams, and organizations perpetuate dysfunctional policies and procedures because they are afraid to open Pandora’s Box of transformative change.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

While it takes effort, ‘a hard time’, it is possible to overcome the fear of the unknown and by doing so alleviate the suffering caused by dysfunctional performance.

 Fear of the unknown

The unknown, uncertainty, is at the root of worry, anxiety, and fear. Since what will happen in the future is unknowable, Project managers, executives, and all the other stakeholders face uncertainty. Sure, we can make plans and analyze trends and past performance, but no one knows the future with 100% accuracy. Uncertainty is a certainty[1].

Many attempt denial – “We have a plan and it says that the work WILL be done by the target date for the budgeted cost.” Others realize that change and uncertainty are natural and inevitable but are fearful, worrying about what might happen if the project slips and spending goes through the roof. Some will experience fear but won’t be fearful.

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Fearful Reactivity vs. Responsiveness

To be fearful (full of fear) means to be driven by fear. Courage is about using the energy of emotion to remain calm enough to think, act, and communicate clearly and effectively. It is what makes the difference between highly successful project managers and others.

To be responsive, to think clearly, and make effective decisions, requires cognitive readiness or VUCA tolerance. VUCA is volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. The higher your tolerance for VUCA, the more likely you will be able to handle stressful situations.

 Inner Workings

VUCA tolerance requires that you confront your inner workings. These are beliefs, biases, denial, clinging to impossible goals, emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, greed, and jealousy, and their causes. Confronting these put one face to face with the unknown.

What if my beliefs are unreal?

What will happen if I confront the ‘inner workings’ that are behind my fear, my perfectionism, procrastination, anger, and whatever else gets in the way of effective behavior?

 Self-awareness

Facing these natural inner dynamics is to be self-aware. Self-awareness enables self-management and self-management is the key to VUCA tolerance. Self-management is the part of emotional intelligence that allows fear or any other emotion to be fully felt and then choosing what to do be responsiveness.

Cultivate Self-awareness

How does one cultivate self-awareness? The process begins with the recognition that it is an essential ingredient – some say, the most essential – for being able to perform optimally. Self-awareness “lies at the root of strong character, giving us the ability to lead with a sense of purpose, authenticity, openness, and trust. It explains our successes and our failures.”[2]

Until you make the connection between performance and self-awareness, you are likely to be reactive, driven by emotions, beliefs, and biases. And that is true for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Self-awareness implies objectivity, looking at yourself and your performance as if you were looking at anyone else. It is taking a step back to see yourself as others see you and to see what is going on “under the hood”, internally. To be self-aware combine the following:

  • Use mindfulness meditation to cultivate the ability to objectively observe whatever is happening within and around you
  • Identify your goals, priorities, values, beliefs, biases, and intentions and track your performance with them as a benchmark
  • Inventory your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
  • Get feedback as individuals by taking character/personality assessment tests to better understand your character[3]
  • Get a team and organizational feedback using assessment tools and open dialog
  • Get feedback from those you live and work with
  • Create a relationship with a coach or mentor.

Teams and Organizations

Teams and organizations are subject to the same dynamics as the individuals that make them up. The “self-aware” team or organization will explore its character and environment to identify the things that get in the way of optimal performance.

Based on objective criteria there will be conscious effort to improve by eliminating what gets in the way and making maximum use of the strengths of its members to overcome weaknesses and avoid or manage risks.

But not all teams and organizations are self-aware. They do not shed the light of performance analysis on themselves for reasons such as lack of time, insufficient assessment skills, and fear of exposing their weaknesses.

Many pay lip service to objective performance assessment and continuous improvement. They may collect performance data and have reviews, but they don’t use the results. Some hide results that are too embarrassing. Some never act upon identified opportunities for improvement.

Transformation

We are living in a time of transformation. Transformational change is frame-breaking. It completely changes the way you think and work. It alters relationships and changes values and policies. With transformational change, there is no going back, and the way forward is unknowable.

Digital transformation brings technologies like artificial intelligence, process automation, robotics, and data analytics into play. Their application breaks new ground and significantly impacts people’s roles and responsibilities.

Transformation to Agile and Lean approaches from more highly structured ways to manage and perform projects change relationships, roles, and responsibilities. It changes the techniques used in planning. It changes project managers’ and other stakeholders’ skill set requirements with a greater reliance on collaboration and communication. It opens teams and the organization to greater transparency.

 Moving Forward

Moving forward into the unknown is scary. Self-awareness is possible but cultivating it is not necessarily easy. It requires that you objectively assess your inner workings and the way they influence personal and group performance and use the insights you get to improve.

Related resources:

Ready For Anything – Mindfully Aware – PM Times

https://www.projecttimes.com › articles › ready-for-any.. .

Ready for Anything – Courage and Insight – PM Times

https://www.projecttimes.com › articles › ready-for-any…

Managing Project Expectations and The Courage to Push Back

https://projectinsig

The Key to Performance Improvement: Candid … – Project Times

https://www.projecttimes.com› articles › the-key-to-per…

ht.com› project-management-tips

Cognitive Readiness in Project Teams: Reducing Project …

https://books.google.com› books

Improve Performance by Mindfully Managing Stress by …

https://www.mindfullifemindfulwork.com› 2021/06/04

Self-aware Living
www.self-awareliving.com

[1] There are notable exceptions like, change and death, but we won’t get into those here.

[2] Harvard Business Review, “5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware” by Anthony K. Tjan, https://hbr.org/2015/02/5-ways-to-become-more-self-aware

[3] There are many self-assessment tests. For a sampling see Psychology Today “Self Tests” at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/tests and “14 Free Personality Tests That’ll Help You Figure Yourself Out” https://www.themuse.com/advice/14-free-personality-tests-thatll-help-you-figure-yourself-out

5 Tips to Employee Engagement for Remote Teams

PM Articles by Project Times. 

After hiring candidates, companies often ignore the importance of their employees’ well-being. If you’re wondering why some companies can have a high turnover rate, regardless of how popular they are among giant names, the percentage of employee engagement is one of those contributing factors to this situation.

While managers can set up a fun activity to keep their employees engaged at the office, they can’t really do the same now due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This dreadful situation has forced many to put employees’ safety first. Hence, working from home isn’t that odd anymore.

That doesn’t mean managers can’t initiate an employee engagement program on remote terms. This article will dive into how businesses can thrive by improving employee engagement even though they are working away from the office.

The Importance of Employee Engagement

Employees are companies’ biggest assets. Keeping them happy at your workplace will greatly benefit your business. After all, happy employees will do their best at work, resulting in better outcomes.

Here are a few benefits of getting your employees engaged.

Reduce turnover rates

Turnover is often one of the manager’s biggest enemies when it comes to ensuring a running project. Sometimes employees can quit at a time when companies need them the most, and that’s something managers can’t avoid or hold them to stay longer. This is where employee engagement plays a big part in avoiding this situation.

When companies pay attention to employees’ difficulties at work and provide them with a solution that helps overcome the situation, employees can put more trust in the organization. More trust means higher loyalty, which decreases their consideration to move out.

This can be done if the company provides a number of onboarding processes via training videos to help employees get the experience of what they can expect from the company. The onboarding also improves the communication between the company and employees so that they get engaged from the get-go.

Improve productivity

Productivity has been linked to employees’ ability to finish a task and handle a situation in a timely manner. But when said employees are unable to concentrate at work, whether it’s from internal or external problems, they may lose their performance. If companies have engaged with employees well, things that may potentially reduce productivity can be identified and avoided quickly.

Better customer service

Enthusiastic employees at work bring such a positive vibe around them. This can often be seen in the way employees treat and communicate with customers. Highly engaged employees don’t see work as an inevitable responsibility as an adult. They consider getting up every day to work to ensure they provide solutions to customers they are communicating with while also benefiting from working.

5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement for Remote Team

1. Encourage two-way communications

Communication is key in every part of life, including the workplace. Make sure to always have clear communication with employees, so you can get rid of misunderstandings at work.

After all, the workplace is one of the common areas where people get misunderstood easily. If you can’t initiate direct, two-way communication with people working in your organization, they may feel left out and consider you don’t provide the solution they are facing at the moment.

2. Listen to them

Make sure your employees don’t get left out even though they are working on a remote term. While they don’t often show any difficulties because of the distance, managers should ensure if they are doing okay in the first place.

Many won’t initiate a conversation due to location and time differences. That’s why employees keep almost everything about work themselves—asking if they face a certain problem while remote working can improve their connection with you and possibly open up for more conversation in the future.

3. Recognize their efforts

Companies often don’t see what their employees have done in maintaining their performance at work. Managers only see the result without considering how much effort one has put into gaining such an outcome.

Make sure to recognize your employees’ efforts and appreciate them for what they do. After all, everyone’s hard work has made it possible for the company to thrive in this difficult time. So, show them that you acknowledge their work.

4. Reward your employees

The act of acknowledging someone’s work may come in many forms, including giving a simple ‘thanks’ and round applause. While these are common and relatively inexpensive, you can go as far as giving points or a bonus as a reward for their hard work.

Your employees will surely appreciate it if their boss shares gifts or free coupons to the nearest villa when they achieve a goal. It shows that companies take care of their employees by giving them a reward after working hard.

Knowing how companies take little things, such as small wins matter, will improve how employees see their workplace. This convinces them more that they are working in the right place.

5. Create fun activities together

Sometimes working from the home policy can greatly impact employees in terms of getting burnout quickly. Compared when working in the office, employees could say hi to each other and wind down a little bit when the tension was too serious or when the workload was so heavy.

Remote working means the ability to communicate with other teammates is limited, which often causes more stress to employees. In order to avoid a quick burnout, managers can provide fun activities or games virtually. Getting into games can reduce stress and boost the employee’s motivation to work after it’s done.

Takeaway

Remote teams are prone to having burnout because they are limited to doing certain activities like they used to. When employees are easily stressed out without a quick handle from the company, they will feel excluded from the entire organization.

In the long term, such condition may reduce their performance and ownership as they don’t feel connected at all. Managers can handle this situation by taking into consideration what makes these employees engaged again.

It’s crucial to introduce exciting activities to boost up their mood. Make sure to listen to their voices and create a safe space for a private conversation. These will help remote employees engage in the company they are working.