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An agile framework to assign resources

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Last week I wrote a short paragraph about how the organization I examined for the written assignment used an agile framework to allocate resources from their line organization to projects. The organization had implemented a framework based upon the book “Agil Organisering med Pulse” (Agile Organization with Pulse). Though I didn’t have the time to witness one of their pulse meetings, the concept seemed to work pretty good in the department where it was implemented.

The first week of every month, project managers could request resources from the line. The project were then prioritized based on criteria that were never really revealed to me; I assume the basis was intangible and agreed upon on during each monthly meeting.
The work packages were not allowed to be bigger then 40 man hours and were usually said to be around 8-24 work hours. In addition, the project managers were not allowed to request individuals only the amount of resources and the specific skillsets they needed. Once the meeting was held, line managers went back to perform their internal monthly planning.
Each week a short meeting was held where line managers allocated their available resources to the planed work packages of the following week. Since the projects were prioritized the available resources were assigned accordingly. When a common capability was needed in multiple projects they tried to balance the resources pool in such a way that most project (usually all project) received their requested resources.

Using this framework, the organization had increased their productivity by utilizing the full capacity and capability of the department where the framework was implemented. It also illustrated when the organization had executed to many project simultaneity as some projects were not assigned the required resources.

References

  • Ulla Sebestyén. (2017). Agil Organisering med Puls – Dynamik på osäkerhetens arena. Rönninge: Parmatur HB.

Quote of the week

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Agile in concept is the antithesis of a sweatshop. It’s a kind of management that can enable talent to bring their smarts, empathy, and ingenuity to the workplace. Whatever this kind of management is called—and some firms prefer to use a label other than “Agile”—it isn’t just a new management process. It’s a fundamentally different way of running an organization, even, according to McKinsey, “a change the fundamental DNA of an organization.” It’s a way of coping with rapid massive change in a way that bureaucracy can’t.

This is a quote from a post published by Steve Denning at forbes.com. In his post he writes about how companies fake being agile when in reality they are quite the opposite. Steve also references the agile mindset vs. the bureaucratic mindset that clearly illustrates how different cultures view goals, how work get done and they see organizational structures.

The post can be found here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2019/08/18/another-form-of-fake-agile-the-agile-sweatshop/#30abfda84cd7

Are “soft skills” important? Yes they are!

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Today I quickly browsed through the “Project Manager of the Future – Developing Digital Age Skills to Thrive in Disruptive Times” by PMI. I’m in chock of a quote I read in the introduction by the CEO of PMI, Mark Langley. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is a just a bad phrase, poor sarcasm or if I’m just missing the point but in the introduction to the report he states “Isn’t it interesting that some of the ‘softer’ skills, such as innovation and collaboration, also show up as being important in the digital age?”

The agile manifesto was published in 2001 and has since then been one of the driving forces of improving software development processes. The agile manifesto build upon these four “cornerstones”:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

With these cornerstones as foundation, I’m amazed that anyone would be surprised that “soft skills” would be important in the digital age of 2018. I’m going to give Mark the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s just poorly formulated sarcasm.

What do you think? Are soft skills important? Please leave a comment.

Delivering value

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Today, Gunnar Wettergren held the second lecture in the course “Strategies, benefits and alignment”. Todays topic was “Benefit and Value concepts” and despite the fact that I haven’t listened to the entire lecture, I had to start writing.

In the introduction of the lecture Gunnar talked about the shift in focus from project deliverables to business value. I correlate this to the agile manifesto which focus on the following:

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  • working software over comprehensive documentation;
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and
  • responding to change over following a plan.

I’m not saying that the process of planning or documenting isn’t important – they are! However, it’s my experience that many projects still produce an unfortunate amount of “paper products” that bring little or no value to the project. They primarily function as a control mechanism and it’s the existence of the deliverable, not the content, that matters.

Unfortunately, the water fall model is still being used – even when there’s a level of uncertainty of the scope or requirements. Changes are inevitable – why not plan for that, embrace it and use a methodology or framework that supports it?

In short – I wish more of the projects I’ve been involved with had focused it’s resources on real business values (producing and delivering what has been deemed most important first) and planning for change (keeping the project aligned with the benefits of the receiving organization).