Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Scrum

Chunking up the Juggernaut (aka: Scrum in a Government Setting)

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, Government, Information Technology, Innovation, Innovation in the Public Sector, IT Modernization, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Public Sector, Sacramento, Scrum, Technology, Training, Workforce Development

By Todd Wallace, PMP, CSM

Agile methodologies.
Scrum projects.
Continuous and rapid improvement.

These are all phrases you would expect to hear in a Silicon Valley startup, while attending a morning huddle in a shared space office.

You would not expect to hear these phrases while attending a quarterly all staff meeting in “the large conference room on the 6th floor” at a government office.

However, times are changing, and the way work is being done is changing with those times.

What was once a radical new way to manage projects, or “work efforts,” is now seen as a reasonable, efficient, effective, and adoptable methodology to bring into new areas, such as state government.

As opposed to the historically applied Waterfall method to manage projects in state government, using an Agile method allows for earlier customer feedback and course correction.

This helps increase the chances that your project meets the customer’s needs and isn’t outdated before it’s even completed.

While a juggernaut such as a government agency may not be able to pivot as quickly as a small startup, there are still very real gains that a government agency can realize through adopting Scrum into their day-to-day operations.

With the support and understanding from leadership, a group within a government agency can form into a Scrum team, with a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, and a working group.

By breaking up the work that needs to be done into correctly written user stories and a backlog maintained by the Product Owner, the team can accomplish recognizable progress every two weeks.

While Agile was originally created for software development and rapid releases of code, achieving success with Scrum doesn’t rely on being in a software development group.

Notice that that previous paragraph said nothing about technology or software.

Scrum can be applied to any work effort, from process improvement efforts, to reconfiguring the physical assets of a floorplan.

The overarching goal of Scrum is to “chunk up the work,” or break the work down into tasks that can be completed in a timely manner, with value added at their completion.

Scrum projects may seem like tech world jargon, but there is real value in knowing how to manage Scrum efforts within the government sector and there is a real push for government agencies to adopt Scrum in daily operations.

If you work in a government setting, either as a government employee or a contractor, Scrum is a very real change coming to you soon.

If you want to be ahead of the 8-ball and able to walk the walk when your department’s leadership implements Scrum methods, the Certified ScrumMaster course, offered by KAIP Academy, will teach you everything you need to know to get up to speed. You’ll be able to confidently raise your hand in a “fist to 5” saying that you can coach the team to succeed with Scrum!

About the Author: Todd Wallace is a Senior Project Manager with KAI Partners, Inc. He started his professional career as a student assistant in the special projects department of a state agency and worked as a state employee for over 7 years before transitioning to private sector and consulting to state agencies. He has a BS from CSU, Sacramento in Small Business Operations and an MBA from UC, Davis in Entrepreneurship and Strategy. In his free time, Todd loves tinkering on cars and motorcycles and has a passion for innovation.

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!

KAI Partners News You Can Use

Agile, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Co-working, Government, Healthcare, Hiring, Human Resources, Information Technology, Innovation, ITIL, KAI Partners, KAIP Academy, Learning, Managed IT Services, PMP Certification Bootcamp, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Public Sector, Sacramento, Scrum, Technology, The WorkShop, Training, Workforce Development

There’s always a lot going on at KAI Partners—from training opportunities to networking events to new job listings, we always have something afoot! Today we wanted to share with you some KAI Partners news you can use!

Professional Development

Our training division, KAIP Academy, has some great courses coming up, including:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam prep (4-day course)
  • Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) Certification via Scrum Alliance (2-day course)
  • Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®) Certification via Scrum Alliance (2-day course)
  • ITIL Foundation 4.0 certification exam prep (2-day course)
  • PMI-ACP certification exam prep (3-day course)
For more information, including course schedule and registration, click here.

Collaboration Destination

Our coworking space in East Sacramento—The WorkShop Sacramento—recently turned one year old!

To celebrate, we are offering a free day of coworking any weekday through April 15, 2019.

If you’re reading this after April 15th, not to worry—our daily drop-in rate is only $20, which is probably what you spend on parking and beverages at the coffeeshop where you normally work! Since we have free parking and coffee, the decision is easy! Come join us at 3301 C St., Bldg. 1000.

We are Hiring!

KAI Partners is hiring for a Managed Services Systems Engineer. The Managed Services Systems Engineer will support the completion of critical infrastructure management tasks, provide Tier 1 support to clients, configure new computers for deployment, and more.

For more information or to apply (and to view all our current job openings), click here.

Events for Everyone

In addition to being a place to rest your laptop, The WorkShop is also an event space! Here are some upcoming events taking place at The WorkShop:

Innovation Corner

We are all about innovation in the public sector, so we wanted to highlight some great innovation happening in that space.

Innovation doesn’t have to be technology forward. Yuba and Sutter Counties recently innovated their mental healthcare services by implementing a new partnership and best practices.

Check out this quick video discussing the Counties’ new venture.

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.

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