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Agile digital marketing using Scrum

Is scrum only for software projects?. The answer is ‘No’. Scrum works well with any project where either the requirements are changing or technology is new or both. Here are the lessons learned by a digital marketing team using scrum to accelerate their digital marketing program.

Did I say Digital Marketing Program instead of Digital Marketing Project?. Yes, I did, and that is intentional because most of the digital marketing initiatives meets all the criteria of programs than projects. Programs are a collection of inter-related projects, which when done together gives us more value than doing them one after the other. Majority of the digital marketing initiatives are programs comprising of multiple projects like;

  • Revamping the company web site
  • Creating good content
  • SEO optimization
  • Blogs
  • Case studies
  • Success stories
  • Voice of the customers
  • Training component
  • Webinars
  • Benchmarking
  • Research & Development etc

If these are not synchronized well, the entire initiative can turn out to be transaction oriented than result oriented. The team with which I was working very closely was no different, till we decided to follow a ‘light scrum’ based on the scrum elements like;

  • Weekly sprint planning meetings
  • Weekly reviews and retrospectives
  • Daily reviews
  • Tracking board

One may call it as a tailored version of Scrum. Any way, I call it as ‘Light Scrum’, a kind of loosely implemented most essential aspects of scrum framework envisaged by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in their Scrum Guide.

Weekly sprint planning meetings

Quick 1 hour planning meetings, conducted immediately after the weekly review and retrospective. It was more of a pending from the previous week and new work. Was created using a tool (Microsoft Teams), so that all the stakeholders (many of them very senior) were aware of what is being planned, and their specific actions towards meeting the weekly sprint goals.

Weekly reviews and retrospectives

Even though the marketing team was working very hard, there was not any specific way to evaluate their progress. With the introduction of the weekly sprints, plan based review and retrospectives became possible. This in turn brought in lot of visibility into the marketing teams functioning to the key stakeholders.

Daily reviews

We never had those typical stand up meetings. We sat down together for 15 minutes every day to see where we are with respect to the weekly plan and for constraint removal.

Tracking board

First we created a dump of all the goals to be achieved and the activities required to achieve those goals. This resembled the classical product backlog. From this we created the weekly sprint backlogs. The weekly sprint backlogs were classified into;

  • To be done
  • Being done
  • Done

Resources were associated with tasks with a mix of volunteering and allocation. Based on the progress made, tasks were moved from “To be done’ to ‘Being done’ and then “done’. Tracking board was shared with all the relevant stakeholders so that everyone could see what was happening in the project at any point in time.

We do not maintain burn down charts to track progress. No task level estimates. There is no actual effort capture. There is no velocity calculations yet. Just by having a product backlog, sprint backlog, sprint planning meeting, sprint reviews and retrospectives the benefits are many.

Key Benefits

  • Change in mindset from transaction orientation to result orientation
  • Higher motivation levels and job satisfaction
  • Better quality and effectiveness of the deliverables
  • Better stakeholder involvement / satisfaction
  • Increase in tangible business benefits from the digital marketing effort

Featured

Key benefits of Integrated Agile Project delivery from a 1.6 billion Oil and Gas project

Introduction

Key benefits of Integrated Agile Project delivery from a 1.6 billion Oil and Gas project;

  • Project completion ahead of 36 months schedule
  • 90% on time delivery of deliverables
  • 80% deliverables completed within budget
  • 100% quality assurance across all team’s output
  • 80% reduction in errors and rework

Key enablers

  • Integrated planning
  • Multiple levels of planning
    • Master plan
    • Phase wise plan
    • Look ahead plan
    • Weekly plan
  • Availability of project information on time
    • Exception based management resulting in reduced meetings
  • Collaborative team work supported by collaboration system
    • Weekly corrective / preventive action meetings

Basic Building blocks of Agile  

  • The master plan – The master plan of the project from the start to finish. Very often at the milestone level.  
  • Phase plan – Subset of the master plan which culminates in a major deliverable / deliverable.
  • Make ready plans / Look ahead plans – Subset of the phase plan with six weeks window
  • Formation of self-organizing teams – Teams are selected based on the skills required to deliver the output of the make ready plan. The team decides how they are going to perform the work. They collectively sequence the tasks, identify the constraints and dependencies upfront, eliminate them and sees the work progress together during the daily review meeting, and make the adjustments required to deliver on time.  This results in smoother work flows, motivation and positive peer pressure to deliver.
  • Weekly plan
  • Weekly and monthly reviews  
  • Daily stand up meetings
  • Retrospective meetings
  • Information radiators
  • Constant constraint removal
  • Forecasting (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Phase, Master plan level)
  • Key metrics

Do you want to know more?

Our agile experts will explain the basic building blocks for improving agility in engineering projects. They will also explain how these basic building blocks work together to improve productivity and predictability of engineering projects with the help case studies.

Request for more information from our agile experts

Featured

Transforming EDMS into Integrated EVMS

As generally understood, Electronic Data Management System (EDMS),  is an automated system to store and retrieve documents digitally to avoid piles of manual documents and the complexity  involved in manually managing them. The key benefits from the EDMS are;

  1. Providing the right document to the right person at the right time with ease
  2. Better document change management, version control
  3. Improving collaboration of different stakeholders operating from single or multiple locations through better document sharing
  4. Comments and change management
  5. Improved security through permissioned access
  6. Maintaining audit trails

If your work involve projects of any nature (big, small, internal, external, multi location, single location),  by integrating the EDMS to a scheduling tool and a workflow engine, EDMS can be transformed into a very powerful Integrated Earned Value Management System (EVMS).

The key benefits from a well implemented integrated EVMS are;

  1. Progress reporting – Planned work Vs Earned work within a given time frame within minutes, with accuracy.
  2. Trends analysis – Schedule Performance Index (SPI), Cost Performance Index (CPI), within minutes, with accuracy.
  3. Ability forecast with ease (Moving from reactive management to proactive management)
    1. Estimate to Complete (ETC), “When we complete the project, how much it is going to cost?”
    2. Estimated date of completion, “When are we likely to complete the project?”

All these are possible, without any additional data entry, and can happen at the press of a button, because the progress of work can be assessed based on predefined rules of credit attached to the workflow.

For example let us consider the workflow of an engineering drawing;

StageTrigger Rule of credit for Earned Value   Planned date Actual date
1Completion of the engineering drawing 50%20/05/201920/05/2019
2Engineering review completion 20%22/05/201922/05/2019
3Review comments incorporation 20%23/05/2019
4Final review 10%25/05/2019

On 26/05/2019;

Planned value of this engineering drawing = 100%

Earned value = 70%

Schedule variance = EV-PV = 70-100 = -30

As you can see, the progress reporting happens automatically as and when the work progresses. The additional step of manually entering percentage completion is eliminated. This enforces process compliance, eliminates wrong reporting and considerably reduces waiting time for project progress information. This concept can be scaled from a document level to work package, project, program, portfolio level. It can be within engineering or it can be extended to procurement and construction. It can be single location or multi-location.

Data from the field from a very large  project which implemented EDMS based Integrated EVMS

Project details : USD 1.6 billion project, with 120+ vendors, engineering done in five locations, tight schedule (25 months) with incentives and penalties

Key Benefits reported

  • 70% reduction in overall time taken to generate reports
  • Improved accuracy of the real time reports
  • Access to EPC contractors / vendors, automated approval processes, quick access to drawings and docs with latest revisions has increased productivity by 20-25%.
  • Direct access to multiple EPC contractors and vendors has reduced data exchange time
  • Ability to manage by exceptions than getting buried in information overload
  • 90% on time completion of deliverables
  • 80% deliverables completed within budget
  • 80% reduction in errors and rework

To understand how these things really work in a technology platform, request for a demo / discussion.  

About the blogger

Abrachan Pudussery is a Project management domain expert at Wrench Solutions. He is also the founder member of Project Management Research Institute, a non-profit organization committed to the promotion of professional project management best practices.


Featured

Top challenges of EPC Project Owners, Project Managers & Engineering teams

Owners

  • I do not have visibility into the project.
  • It takes almost 3-5 days time to get the progress updates. By the time I receive it, it is too late to take any effective corrective / preventive action.
  • Information overload. Very often we are bombarded with information and it takes lot of effort and time to understand the exceptions.
  • We are not sure about the project end date and the anticipated cost.
  • Lot of time spent in investigations / claims.

Project Managers

  • I am unable to make timely decisions because of the delay in receiving information. I wish to get the relevant information on time at the click of a button.
  • I do not have much visibility into sub contracted work. I am forced to believe what they tell me. They give me a very positive picture till the last minute and then fail at the last minute, creating last minute plan changes.
  • Since there is no traceability, lot of time is spent for investigations and claims.
  • Quality related issues, arising out of improper communication of engineering specifications and the associated changes.
  • No visibility into the long lead items, which often results in delays and re-planning.
  • Actual work is not in alignment to schedule. Schedule is not really used for project management, it is used more as a status update and communication tool. Even that fails because the actual work execution is different from what is shown in the schedule.
  • Project managers spend lot of time in administrative work, than in managing work.

Engineering

  • Progress tracking of the engineering work, especially engineering drawings is a big challenge.
  • Change management of the engineering drawings is an area where engineering teams spend lot of their time.
  • Errors and omissions in consolidation, validation, incorporation and traceability of the changes / comments on the engineering documents results in time consuming reworks.
  • Lack of alignment of the engineering plan to the overall project plan creates lot of last minute schedule pressures on the engineering teams.

Work front

  • Because all the inputs are not available, teams spend lot of time waiting for the inputs to be ready.
  • Construct ability constraints are revealed at the work front, leading to wastage of time and money.

These are the common project management challenges faced by our clients and partners. These culminate in serious project slippages and cost overruns.

The solution to these problems lies in the culmination of ;

  1. Integrated project management information systems (IPMIS) – Without the support of Integrated Project Management Information Systems, projects are more like an army unit on the war front with a broken communication system.
  2. Integrated project delivery using Agile principles – One may have all the information on time, and if the teams lack the capability to act on the information quickly, again the project fails.

Establishing the Integrated Project Management Information System (IPMIS) is the predecessor to implementing Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) with Agility. IPMIS can be accomplished within a very short span of time with the right tools and implementation strategy. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) with Agile principles involve cultural changes and will take longer time to institutionalize. Start with Integrated Project Management Information System (IPMIS) and then IPD with Agile.

Are you facing similar challenges in your projects?.

Let us start a discussion.

Featured

10 tips to ease your PMP preparation



Reading the 750 pages of PMBOK as part of PMP preparation is the biggest hurdle most of the PMP aspirants face. These tips are to reduce the pain of PMP preparation. For our PMP prep online, instructor led course details contact us

7 week PMP plan

Week 1

  • Orientation to the program
  • Basic definitions
  • Most widely used tools and techniques
  • PMBOK structure
  • Project Initiation
    • Project Chartering
    • Identifying Stakeholders
  • Assessment / Assignment

Week 2

  • Introduction to project planning
  • Steps to develop the project plan
  • Work Breakdown Structure creation
  • Developing the Schedule
  • Assessment / Assignment

Week 3

  • Project estimation and budgeting
  • Planning for quality
  • Planning resources
  • Planning communications
  • Planning risk management
  • Planning procurements
  • Planning stakeholder engagement
  • Assessment / Assignment

Week 4

  • Project execution tips
  • Project knowledge management
  • Quality management
  • Team management
  • Communications management
  • Risk management
  • Procurement management
  • Managing stakeholder engagement
  • Assessment / Assignment

Week 5

  • Integrated change control
  • Schedule control
  • Cost control
  • Earned Value Management System
  • Project closure
  • Assessment / Assignment

Week 6,7

  • Professional ethics of Project Managers
  • Exam practice
  • Write exam

Contact us

7 week PMP

Right preparation, not too much preparation is the key to success in PMP certification on the first attempt. Do not even think of second attempt which will be lot of heart break, additional effort, money (250 USD) and even the danger of dropping out of the program forever and missing the professional benefits associated with PMP and it’s application at the work place.

After having trained more than 15,000 professionals during the last decade, we know how to eliminate unwanted preparation and guide you to success in the first attempt itself.

Recent Success Story

Yesterday I took my PMP exam and I cleared it. Thanks a lot fo all the support you have provided through out.

Your method of teaching made the entire curriculum look easy. I was able to understand every bit of it. The face to face interaction with you makes it more easy.Thank you for making yourself available as and when I needed to go over be it same topics or new topics or just to answer my questions on the already covered topics. In your method i dint have to by-heart any aspect of the PMBOK. One good thing about your method is we will be going over the entire PMBOK at least once.

The vast curriculum of PMBOK makes it very difficult to even start the study. With so many reference books available we can easily get lost in picking the right path for the certification. But your method clearly defines a path and if we just follow it we can easily not only get certified but also gain and improve on our Project Management knowledge.

With your class, reference material and answering all the questions in the practice tests was more than sufficient to give the exam and clear it.

Thanks a lot of all the help you provided.

Thanks & Regards,
Shashi

How do we do it?

  • After understanding your need and the amount of time you can commit, we will work out a tentative schedule for your PMP preparation
  • We will make your learning of PMBOK easier by explaining the concepts through crisp notes, mind maps, videos, blogs and scheduled online classes.
  • We will provide guidance about the right preparation material.
  • You will learn at your own pace. We will work along with you throughout your journey.
  • As and when you have doubts or when you get struck anywhere, we will pitch in immediately and resolve them. All you have to do is to ping the instructor through whatsapp – 9895372115, email or telephone call.
  • For complex topics and clarifications, we will schedule exclusive one2one online meetings and explain those topics and concepts.
  • We will provide you with practice tests and provide clarity on those questions where you struggle.
  • We will provide you with the 35 contact hours certificate, when you really complete an equivalent hours of serious instructor led study.
  • We will clarify all your doubts about applying for the PMP exam.

Contact us

Let us know about your requirement like;

  • The time frame in which you want to be a PMP
  • Your professional back ground
  • The number of hours you can commit / week
  • Your time zone
  • Your convenient time and days for weekly meetings
  • Is there anyone else who can attend the course with you, so that we can work out the best fees which will reduce the training fees per participant.
  • Suitable date and time for an initial online meeting to explain the whole process and to clarify all your doubts regarding PMP certification.
  • Any other questions you have

Contact us

Related link

The 7 Week PMP Plan

The 'Fragile-Agile' List

This is an ever growing list. The sole objective of this list is to challenge the agile champions to create some new mistakes, instead of the known ones in the list, and to help me to add them to this list by sharing them with me 🙂

  1. Absence of well articulated business case for agile transition
  2. Lack of management commitment / understanding
  3. Lack of product owner commitment / understanding
  4. Bad requirements engineering and wrong source
  5. Proxy product owners without any understanding of the ground reality
  6. Bad technical design
  7. Overselling agile
  8. Lack of empiricism
  9. Lack of rigor of corrective / preventive actions
  10. Partial training
  11. Insufficient training 
  12. Lack of awareness of agile principles
  13. Cultural conflicts
  14. Lack of quality of agreements 
  15. Influence of organizational politics 
  16. Just, Certified Agile Masters 
  17. Insecure seniors
  1. Absence of well articulated business case for agile transition – Why are you doing it?. When will you say that it is successful?. By what date?. If we have clarity on these, the probability of success is very high. 
  2. Lack of management commitment / understanding– They think that agility is something money can buy, and unfortunately money alone cannot make it part of your organizational culture. It takes commitment over a longer period of time.
  3. Lack of product owner commitment / understanding – Many product owners lack role clarity. They act as traditional senior project managers and supervises the work of scrum master and the development team, craving for control, every day. Funeral of agile. 
  4. Requirements are scheduled into sprint without validating them – On many occasions, many of the requirements turn out to be irrelevant for the end user, as the source of the requirements are wrong.
  5. Proxy product owners without any understanding of the ground reality (linked to point 4). 
  6. Bad design – Whatever said and done, only a good design can scale, can include last minute changes easily. Many times, agile frameworks are adopted half way, as a quick fix measure to solve the problems of a project resting on bad architecture. That is not going to work, unless and until the code is re-engineered.
  7. Overselling agile – The expectations are not set correctly. Agile is projected as the silver bullet for all problems.
  8. Lack of empiricism – Without empirical data, progress cannot be measured. Improvement cannot be measured.
  9. Lack of rigor of corrective and preventive actions – People are hesitant to get into the real root causes and solve them, instead they are fine with quick fixes.
  10. Partial training – The full team is not trained, they do not have a common understanding of agile. ‘Just do it’ attitude will not work.
  11. Insufficient training – The trainer might not have given proper emphasis on the value system required for agile to be successful, instead, would have focused on the framework. Understanding the agile frameworks is the easiest part, where as how all the parts of the framework work together and create the pull required to achieve improved productivity is the key.
  12. Lack of awareness of the agile principles – The trainer / coach ignoring the agile principles part and focusing too much on the framework. Mastering the framework is much easier than mastering the principles.
  13. Cultural conflicts – Very often it is about ‘self organizing teams’ within a command and control’ corporate culture, that makes it difficult.
  14.  Lack of quality agreements – Majority of the agreements in the meeting rooms are political agreements, which can be interpreted or misinterpreted as emotional intelligence. People do not really agree, when they say ‘I agree’ due to two major reasons; 1) Lack of financial security 2) Lack of expert power. Without having these two secured, one cannot be bold and correct.
  15. Influence of organizational politics –  spilling into the agile way of working. Account manager acting as the ‘product owner’ trying to control things through the ‘proxy product owner’ by passing the ‘scrum master’. This is very dangerous as no one will dare even to accept the existence of this. 
  16. Just, Certified Agile Masters – who forgot about agile, the day got certified at the end of the two day corporate training program, who attended the program because his boss asked him to attend it. 
  17. Insecure seniors – Self organizing teams is the driving force of every agile team. The best part of self organizing teams is the emergence of new comers based on their capabilities. Unfortunately in many organizations, excellence is linked to experience. When the inexperienced start performing, some of the seniors will start seeing them as threats.

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