Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Agile

Improving the User Experience with Product Management

Agile, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Continuous Improvement, Healthcare, Innovation, Innovation in the Public Sector, IT Modernization, Process Improvement, Product Management, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Public Sector, Sacramento, Scrum, Technology, Waterfall

By Jamie Spagner, PMP, CSM, CSPO

As a PMP, I have nearly a decade of traditional project management experience. I’ve worked on several projects and helped implement solutions into production using the standard waterfall methodology. With a very scripted plan, traditional projects have pre-defined scope and a definitive end.

Something I’ve recently started to work on is Product Management. In my current role, I am helping to plan the modernization efforts for a legacy system in the health care industry. The idea of Product Management is a relatively new concept for the public sector—it shifts the traditional way of thinking and is less prescriptive and more flexible.

You may be wondering how Product Management works, so I wanted to share my thoughts on Product Management in general, as well as some of its challenges.

  1. Product Management doesn’t stop. Product Management is customer-driven by nature—there is no fixed schedule or end date by which to release a product or system. Features are continuously added or tweaked to make the system or product function better for the end-user.
  2. Product Management is centered around the Agile approach. (Also true of some traditional projects.) Teams are self-motivated to determine how and when they’ll do the work. Product Management is not done in a vacuum—the development of the product is still structured using typical scrum tools like daily stand-ups and sprint planning.
  3. Product Management is not perfect. As with any new way of doing things, implementing a Product Management approach is not without its challenges. The idea of a product never being truly “finished”—because the product is continually improved to make sure it meets and exceeds customer needs—can be a tough concept.
  4. Product Management requires buy-in. Product Management often requires a culture change, as well. Coaching of executives and leadership is common—instead of directing their team, leaders should empower their teams to self-organize.
  5. Reporting Product Management’s progress. Another challenge of Product Management is reporting and being able to show progress against a plan. Since these are inherently waterfall tasks, there is a challenge in how to measure and show progress with a continuous process like Product Management. I believe using the tools of Agile can help in reporting and measurement. Developing a product roadmap, building a backlog, holding daily standup meetings, and overall accountability—you should trust in the agile process to develop and improve a great product.

Product Management is starting to be used more widely in public sector technology and innovation endeavors because it focuses on the people, processes, and technology. Product Management is a team effort to make sure a product thrives and meets the needs of the end-user community it supports.

Have you used a Product Management approach before? How is it working for you? Leave a comment and let us know!

About Jamie: Jamie Spagner is an Executive Consultant for KAI Partners, where she works as a Project Manager for a public sector health care client. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with the Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies/Public Relations. She is a loving mother of a teenage son named Wyatt. In her spare time, she enjoys shopping, spending time with family/close friends, and working out.

About the KAIP Academy’s Training and Certification classes

Agile, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, Information Technology, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Sacramento, Scrum, Technology, Training, Workforce Development

Learn more about the KAIP Academy, northern California’s premiere training and certification resource for professionals looking to advance their career and professional opportunities!

Interested in registering for one of KAIP Academy’s upcoming courses? Start here!

Introduction to Scrum from an Outsider’s Perspective

Agile, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, KAIP Academy, Learning, Project Management, Sacramento, Scrum, Training, Workforce Development

By Tim Townsend, CSM, CSPO

Creating effective teams capable of working together toward a common mission is one of the most important goals of any organization. Whether it’s software development or how to bring a new product to market, no large project can succeed without collaboration from an organization’s employees.

Knowing how important this is and making it happen are two very different things.

One of the trainings offered by the KAIP Academy teaches a framework that allows a team to put Agile product development practices into action.

“Scrum” has been around since the early 2000s and traces its origins towards looking at organizations that are able to develop products quickly and respond more deftly to change. Most importantly, it’s a framework instead of being a prescriptive process. This allows Scrum to be adapted to any organization or situation.

I completed both KAIP Academy’s Certified Scrum Master® (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO) classes. In the process, I learned a lot of useful strategies to maximize the effectiveness of teams in the workplace. Each class focused on the role of a particular team member in Scrum.

Through the CSM class, attendees are taught through a series of interactive exercises and lectures what Scrum is, the tools it utilizes, and the team events needed to carry it out. The role of the Scrum Master is to facilitate the use of the Scrum framework and help resolve any impediments that arise while a team is working on a project. It’s a role that requires strong soft skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence—things that cannot be learned in a two-day training program. However, taking the Scrum Master class will certainly give someone the tools to develop these skills.

One of my favorite elements of the CSM class was the freeform it took. Instead of learning a linear curriculum in a predetermined order, the class was asked to set the agenda and the order of the topics. This was true to the Scrum method where teams determine how to best accomplish their goal and how their work will be completed.

The second class I took was the Certified Scrum Product Owner® (the person in charge of delivering the highest business value from the product). Being a Product Owner is arguably the most difficult role in the Scrum framework. Unlike a traditional project manager, a Product Owner in Scrum doesn’t rely on a hierarchical authority to direct a team towards their goal. Instead it’s about collaboration and negotiation with the team while keeping an eye on the ultimate objective.

I found it particularly helpful to learn how to refine a large project into small actionable items and how this is a constantly evolving process as the project moves forward. We were even able to put these principles into practice during the training through a team exercise where we planned, built, and refined our own product (in our case, a new type of cell phone holder).

Going forward, I will be using many of the skills and strategies taught through the CSM and CSPO courses and would highly encourage others to further their professional development through these courses.

Interested in taking the CSM or CSPO course through the KAIP Academy? Click here for all our KAIP Academy course information!

About the Author: Tim Townsend is an Associate Consultant for KAI Partners and a communications specialist with on IT project developments. Prior to joining the company, he was a Chief of Staff in the California State Legislature, where he worked for eight years. He enjoys snowboarding with his wife and is a parent to two rescue dogs.

How the Scrum Values can be used on more than just Agile Projects

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Project Management, Sacramento, Scrum, Training, Workforce Development

By Sumayyah Jackson, CSM

When I decided to attend the Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) class through the KAIP Academy, I had knowledge about the Agile / Scrum process. Being a Special Projects Intern for KAI Partners, we discussed these processes frequently. My team and I attend daily sprint meetings every week. It is always on a timed schedule and gives everyone a clear vision of the tasks to be completed for the day.

One of my favorite parts of the CSM class were learning the Scrum Values: Respect, Openness, Courage, Focus, and Commitment. Here’s how I’ve seen the Scrum Values at work in my life:

Respect: To me, respect in the workplace means encouraging your team to express their opinions and ideas. At KAI Partners, my opinions and ideas were always respected. It allowed me to be comfortable expressing my thoughts when executing any project with my fellow team members. There is a difference between hearing and listening. Listening patiently to others’ discussion allows me to respond with insight and earn their respect.

Openness: I look at openness as being willing to open your mind to different ideas and change. Openness promotes trust. Trusting your team to uphold the company values will promote a friendly working environment. Accepting that people have different backgrounds will allow us to get past any perceived differences and realize that we are all people with similar goals.

Courage: Having the courage to overcome your fears can provide you with a sense of security to gain self-confidence and focus your energy on strengthening the organization through improved productivity and innovation. Moving across the country was one of my fears that I quickly got over. It took courage to leave behind everything I knew and start over in a new city. Because of courage, I have discovered new opportunities that have been positively life changing.

Focus: I think focus is an essential tool for success and can help you deliver the most efficient results. The ability to block out distractions is paramount and key to being successful. Being focused is a skill that has to be mastered.

Commitment: Commitment is to show effort and motivation and to recognize that sometimes satisfaction means going beyond the bare minimum expectations which takes discipline. I am committed to self-improvement by continuing to self-reflect and being open to change and growth. Ultimately, mistakes can be the best teacher.

Now that I am officially a Certified Scrum Master®, I look forward to applying the skills I learned to enhance my career, as well as provide a structure for my studies as a college student. These skills are not only applicable in the workplace, but they also play a role in day-to-day life.

Interested in learning more about how the Scrum Values can help in your career and life? Register for our next CSM session! Click here for all our KAIP Academy course information!

About the Author: Sumayyah Jackson works at KAI Partners as a Special Projects Intern. She recently moved to Sacramento from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attends Sacramento City College, majoring in Psychology. Sumayyah is committed to her education & tackling her career goals. After she obtains her Associates degree, she plans on attending a 4-year university and acquiring a PhD in Psychology. She has previously worked in customer service, time and expense coordinating, and social media coordinating. On her free time, she enjoys reading, volunteering for non-profit organizations, graphic design, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.

Is the PMP® Certification Bootcamp right for me?

Agile, Corporate Training, KAIP Academy, Learning, PMP Certification Bootcamp, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Sacramento, Training, Workforce Development

The KAIP Academy is excited to offer the PMP® Certification Bootcamp! This course is ideal for people who are getting ready to take the Project Management Professional® (PMP) exam through the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Wondering if this class right for you? Check out these FAQs to help you decide!

Still on the fence? Email any additional questions directly to academy@kaipartners.com.

Ready to register? Click here!

Course Questions

Q: What needs to be done prior to the taking the PMP® Certification Bootcamp?

A: We recommend you visit www.PMI.org and start the application process. This requires documenting your project management experience and references. If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher, you need to have 4,500 hours of project management experience. If you have a high school diploma, you need to have 7,500 hours of project management experience.

Q: Are there any prerequisites to signing up for the PMP® Certification Bootcamp?

A: Anyone can sign up for the course, however, there are prerequisites for taking the PMP® exam (see above). Some students take the PMP® Certification Bootcamp and then sit for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® exam, which does not have requirements regarding experience.

Q: Is there homework during the PMP® Certification Bootcamp?

A: There is no official homework during the PMP® Certification Bootcamp, but we do ask students to review the material covered for the day in advance, so if they have any questions, we can address them first thing in the morning the following day. The course includes several “hands on” student labs throughout where students work together as a team to practice some challenging and highly tested areas of PMBOK®.

Q: I have been a project manager for many years. Why should I sign up for an exam prep course like the PMP® Bootcamp instead of just taking the test?

A: You must have 35 “contact hours” of PMP® training, which is satisfied by attending our PMP® Certification Bootcamp. Another key benefit to attending our course is the interaction between the students and the instructor. By simply reading a book, you only have one way the material is presented to you and you are not allowed to ask questions or clarification from the author. Furthermore, a good instructor should know areas that have a high likelihood of being on the test and can emphasis these areas in class and check to make sure you are grasping the concepts before moving onto the next topic. The amount of detail required to pass the exam is one of the biggest challenges for a PMP® candidate. This can often lead to being frustrated and overwhelmed and may eventually lead to giving up altogether. Our PMP® Certification Bootcamp instructor offers encouragement to assist you in the psychological journey that accompanies the PMP® exam.

Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)® Questions

Q: Does this training cover the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition updates?

A: Yes, this course is highly aligned with the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition and includes additional material that is not directly found in the PMBOK® guide.

Q: How is PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition different from the previous versions?

A: The PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition is a significant change from previous versions. This PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition is more aligned with relevant “real world” project management best practices and has a greater emphasis on agile practices.

Q: Do I need to read the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition before attending the PMP® Certification Bootcamp?

A: No, although it would be a good idea to do a high-level overview of how the material is organized. The PMP® Certification Bootcamp goes through the PMBOK® in detail.

Q: How do I obtain a copy of the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition?

A: You get a free copy of the guide when you join PMI. We recommend you join PMI before you schedule your exam—one of the benefits of joining PMI is the significant reduction in exam fees.

Course Cost Questions

Q: What is included in the price of the PMP® Certification Bootcamp?

A:  A training manual, a PMBOK® study tool, and lunch and refreshments each day.

Q: Is the cost of the PMP® exam included in the price?

A: The cost of the exam is separate. If you have a PMI membership, the cost of the exam is $405. If you do not have a PMI membership, the cost of the exam is $555.

“But I’m not a Project Manager” Questions

Q: I have never held a job with the title “Project Manager”—is the PMP® Certification Bootcamp right for me?

A: Yes, the content learned in the PMP® Certification Bootcamp can be applied to many areas of work. If you work on teams and need to accomplish a certain objective within a specific time frame, you are essentially doing project management. Many people do “informal project management” without even realizing they are doing project management work.

Q: I don’t have a lot of project management background—am I going to be overwhelmed by the content?

A: Yes, you may be. However, our instructor works to provide customized support and guidance to each student to help manage overwhelm.

PMP® Exam Questions

Q: Will the PMP® Certification Bootcamp teach me everything I need to know to pass the exam and receive my PMP® certification?

A: Yes, the course covers everything you need to pass the Sixth Edition (current) of the PMP® exam. We strongly encourage students to purchase the practice exam questions to continue reviewing and to receive feedback on your level of readiness for the exam. The questions are available at PMTraining.com for $68 for 90 days of access, which should be an adequate amount of time to study.

Q: How long should I study and prepare for the PMP® exam after I take the PMP® Certification Bootcamp?

A: Between 3 – 6 weeks depending on how well you do on the practice exams.

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