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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

PMP – Frequently asked questions

  1. What are the certification programs offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI)?
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) ® certification
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) ® certification
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® certification
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) ® certification
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP) ® certification
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP) ® certification
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) ® certification PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) ® certification

2.What is the criteria to apply for PMP exam?

  • If you are diploma holder, then you should have a minimum five years/60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project.
  • If you are a four year bachelor’s degree holder, then you should have a minimum three years/36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project
  • You should have undergone 35 hours of formal project management education. The following types of training qualifies;
    • Training companies or Consultants
    • Employer / company sponsored programs
    • Distance learning companies, including an end of course assessment
    • PMI registered education providers
    • PMI chapters
    • PMI Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s)* B. PMI chapters
    • University or college academic education programs

3. How much is the PMP exam fees?

  • If you are PMI member, then you should pay USD 405
  • If you are not a PMI member, then you should pay USD 555

4. In the case of failure in the first attempt, how much is the fees for second attempt?

  • For PMI members it is USD 275
  • For non members it is USD 375

5. How much is the PMI membership fee? – INR 9075

6. What are the additional benefits of PMI membership apart from the discounted PMP exam fees?

  • Free PDF copy of the latest PMBOK
  • Access to PMI webinars
  • Access to PMI knowledge center

7. When should I pay the exam fees?

  • When your online application has been processed and determined to be complete, PMI will send electronic notification to you requesting payment. This requires you to go back into the online certification system

8. If I cancel the exam will I get a refund?

  • You can appear for the exam within 1 year from the date of application approval. To obtain a refund for the PMP certification, you must make a request to PMI at least 30 days before the exam eligibility expiration date. PMI will retain a processing fee of US$100 if you have not yet scheduled or taken the examination. After the refund is processed the application will be closed and the eligibility period will no longer be valid.

9. What is the PMI audit process?

  • Applications are picked up randomly for audit. So, If your application is chosen for audit do not get worried. It is very normal to have an audit.
  • If your application is chosen for audit, PMI will ask for additional information like;
    • Proof of employment / experience
    • Proof of 35 contact hours training program
    • Proof of education
  • You are required to submit them online
  • You have 90 days time to submit the required documentation
  • Once the required information is provided, the audit gets over in 6 to 7 days
  • I am yet to know someone whose application is rejected forever after the audit
  • The best policy during audit is honesty. By chance if you are unable to provide some required information explain the reason to PMI.

10. How many questions are there in the PMP exam and what is the duration of the exam?

  • There are 200 questions
  • To be answered in 4 hours
  • 200 questions in 240 minutes. That is quite manageable because for some questions you will take only seconds. For some other you may take little more.
  • If you do not know the answer, you and skip the question and move on to the next question. All the skipped questions can be accessed later and answer them.
  • There is no negative marks.

For complete information download PMP handbook from PMI.org

Value of PMP in 2020

What is the value of PMP certificate in the year 2020?

Value#1 – Knowledge perspective

The PMP syllabus introduces you to all the major concepts of professional project management very quickly. What I took 10 years to understand on the job, my PMP preparation made me learn in 30 days.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) provides you with a thirty thousand feet view of professional project management. That means, you get introduced to it, and each knowledge area is worth further research and exploration for the serious professional.

For example;

Project risk management – Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), the base reference for PMP certification introduces you to the basic steps of risk management like;

  • Risk identification
  • Qualitative risk analysis
  • Quantitative risk analysis
  • Risk response planning
  • Contingency planning

It does not address anything specific about the risks associated with EPC projects, R&D projects or I.T projects. It is domain neutral. The impact of emerging developments in Artificial Intelligence and Virtual reality have major impact on risk management, and those aspects are not covered in PMBOK. So it is technology neutral as well. I am just setting the expectations right.

The same is applicable for;

  • Resource management
  • Procurement management
  • Quality management
  • Schedule management
  • Cost management
  • Monitoring and controlling

The concepts in PMBOK, opens up an arena for further study and exploration for the serious professional who has chosen project management as his career.

Value#2 – Career perspective

Thankfully, PMP credential is mandatory for most of project management jobs in reputed organizations. They assume that, a person with a PMP credential have the basic understanding of;

  • Integration management – How to integrate the various management components of the project into an integrated whole?
  • Scope management – The steps involved in collecting, analyzing, base-lining the project scope.
  • Schedule management – How to prepare, use and manage project schedules?
  • Cost management – How to estimate, budget, allocate, monitor and control costs?
  • Quality management – How to plan, implement, monitor and control quality of the deliverables?
  • Resource management – How to plan, get, develop, manage and control resources?
  • Communications management – How to plan, manage and monitor project communications?
  • Risk management – How to plan, identify, prioritize and mitigate risks?
  • Procurement management – How to plan, conduct and control procurements?
  • Stakeholder management – How to make the key stakeholders the supporters of your project?

If one is passionate about the topic, than just the certification, after certification they will be able to attend interviews successfully and grow in the project management career rapidly. The foundations of project management do not change. The enablers will. Those with a solid understanding of the fundamental project management concepts stands a better chance to champion the cause of professional project management at their work place and grow faster than the rest.

Value#3 The hygiene factor

The presence of it does not motivate me, where as the absence of it can demotivate me. Sometimes the PMP credential is also like that. I have had the opportunity to train highly experienced and knowledgeable project managers in very large projects in the Middle East and India who were rejected great opportunities in the USA and Australia, because they did not have the PMP credential. For this group of highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals PMP credential is more like a hygiene factor. Having a PMP title may not add much value to them because they know most of the concepts already and at the same time, having no PMP credential works against them. I remember this person who attended my PMP program in Dubai and rushed to USA in search of a job before getting his PMP credential. And he failed to get any good job there, till he completed his PMP 🙂

Last but not the least, I remember the Old soul, who was young at heart, who attended my PMP preparatory program in Qatar. He wanted to learn project management to project manage the new venture he was starting in Qatar.

Value#4 – The negative value

Have seen many PMP credential holders who are a shame to the profession / community, because they still do not know the fundamentals of professional project management like;

They might have dumped the brain dumps and flash cards into their brains. A PMP credential holder not knowing the crux of project management is a sure prescription for failure in either the job interview or on the job.

Get enthusiastic about project management, master it as if it is your professional passion, and get certified. That is the easiest path.

If you have any questions / queries Contact Abrachan Pudussery

Related Links

The Seven week PMP

The seven week PMP Plan

Earned Value Management Guide

Real time progress monitoring of engineering projects using ‘S’ curve and Histograms

7 week PMP plan

Week 1

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

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