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    Agile Management

Why Do We Do It?

  • By: robin on 16 Mar 2018

Why Do We Do It?
As project managers, when we start a project, it is usually just a concept. To get from this concept to the finish, we need procedures, methods, and tools. However, there is more to project management than this. I’ve always considered myself to one who got things done and from my experience, project management also involves:
Technology. You’re starting with a blank piece of paper and developing what you think someone else wants. New technologies and materials allow you to be even more creative. By using technologies like 3D printing, you can physically show the stakeholders what you are planning. You need to be aware of new advances in technology and have your team apply them to the project. 

Daily problems. You need to be able to solve problems, which occur daily. Following a systematic approach rather than trial and error will result in better solutions. Be prepared to think outside the box. Look ahead; what can you do now to prevent a problem in the future? 

Getting what you need. Since all your resources are limited (labour, equipment, material, and funding) you must work at acquiring what you need. You must anticipate what you need in advance and get commitments for the resources. If you have a history of delivering what you promised, this makes getting resources easier. If people want to work for you, even better. 

Your team. You should know your team. Take every opportunity to train the junior members of the team. Use your projects to improve their skills. Understand what motivates each member and change your style to match theirs.

Being honest. Projects go through highs and lows. There are always good and bad rumours and it is up to you to be honest about them. The team needs to stay focused through the ups and downs.  

In the end, we do it all because projects are fun and can take from six months to up to two years or more to do, so your team becomes important to you. When the design, construction and startup come together and everything performs as designed, there is a “rush” of satisfaction and achievement. A high or an emotional release. You can get the “rush” on small projects that work out, as it depends on your skill level. This is the joy of working on projects, being a project manager, and what keeps us going. 

Watch the following video to the end which illustrates the “rush”, the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment better than I can explain it in words:

I hope you are lucky enough in your career to experience this.


Morley Selver

Agile Methods And The Need For Speed

  • By: robin on 13 Mar 2018

When asking people why they want to use agile delivery methods, one of the most common reasons I hear is that they want to “deliver faster.” It seems that there is a widespread frustration with the way administrative bureaucracy, inefficient development processes, and overburdening governance processes impede project performance. In many cases, an apparently simple, short development project cannot be delivered quickly because of the process and governance overheads that stretch the project out across the calendar and act as a multiplier on the estimated project budget.

Of course project sponsors are frustrated with this situation – I’d be frustrated too. If there is needless red tape slowing down a project, that is an evil that should be rooted out and eradicated within our organizations. The problem, however, is that agile methods are not about delivering faster; rather, their benefits are in other areas:

Lower Risk of Building the Wrong Thing — With frequent demonstrations of the evolving solution, the project sponsor and other stakeholders can see where the project is headed and they can redirect the project team’s efforts if there has been a misunderstanding of requirements. Additionally, this redirection can include the addition of new requirements or changes to existing requirements to ensure the project is delivering optimum value. It is important to note that the business stakeholders’ understanding of what they asked for evolves over the course of the project, bringing new insights and new requests.
Rapid Reduction in Technical Risk — Through careful prioritization, the project team can quickly eliminate technical risk in the project by validating the solution design in early iterations. If an assumption proves wrong, or if the solution design does not work, then there will be minimal rework required (and possibly plenty of time remaining on the schedule) to correct the issue. Once the major technical issues have been resolved, the remainder of the project should proceed without further major interruptions.
Higher Quality — By testing throughout the project, defects are found early when there is time left in the project to correct them and relatively low level of rework required to correct the problems. This is very different from the waterfall method wherein testing is performed at the end of the whole project, leaving little time left for correcting issues and a higher likelihood that corrections will require significant updates across many areas of the completed solution. Add in the benefits of regression testing – retesting past features/deliverables to ensure that recent changes or additions have not impacted them – and we can see that our most important items are tested and then retested over and over to ensure that they are of the highest quality at the end of the project.
Reduced Waste — Agile methods put a very strong emphasis on continuous improvement activities with an aim to improve efficiency of the delivery process, allowing teams to reduce waste. At the end of each iteration, the delivery team holds a retrospective — a “lessons learned” meeting – where team members identify processes that are working effectively, those that did not work well, and what changes can be recommended for the next iteration to improve the teams’ productivity and the quality of its deliverables.
Improved Trust — Under the agile delivery model, a project team makes smaller, short-term commitments that are easier to estimate and to achieve. As a result, the team develops a reputation for meeting their commitments, which helps build trust with the business sponsor.
Open, Transparent Communications — Agile methods recommend frequent, open communications between team members and also between the project delivery team and the project sponsor. Daily team meetings help team members understand each other’s issues, fostering collaboration, mentoring, and early identification of issues to the project manager for resolution or escalation. Daily access to the project sponsor helps with escalation and rapid decision making. Agile status tracking techniques, such as requiring the delivery team to demonstrate completed deliverables at the end of each iteration, also help to improve transparency by revealing the true progress of the project — there should be no last-minute surprises for the sponsor of an agile project.
Improved Morale — With a team able to meet its commitments by delivering completed solution components on a regular basis, the team members feel productive. Combined with the positive results of continuous improvement activities, team members know they are being efficient and see the value they are creating for the business. Shared team goals lead to cross-functional cooperation, which also adds to team productivity. All of these lead to good morale among team members.
Lower Risk of Being Late or Over Budget — The above benefits combine to reduce the risk of the project completing late or over budget. Frequent feedback cycles ensure that misunderstandings are surfaced earlier when there may still be time to correct them without impacting the timeline. Continuous testing finds defects earlier to that they may be fixed earlier, reducing the risk of a major defect being found in the last days of the project. Continuous improvement activities (retrospectives) ensure that the project focuses on delivering efficiently. Transparent communications help to reduce misunderstandings that may lead to rework or other project delays. As you can see, many of our agile practices contribute towards reducing the risk of the project exceeding schedule and budget constraints.
The above items are the most common (and substantial) benefits that organizations achieve through the use of agile methods and none of them related to speed. There are a couple of other benefits, however, that do tie in to the need for faster delivery:

Earlier Delivery of Business Value — By breaking the project down into segments that are delivered incrementally in regular intervals, the project creates the opportunity for the sponsor to make some use of a completed portion of the solution partway through the project. The sponsor may decide to use the partially-completed-but-still-functioning solution to beat competitors to the market and capture valuable market share, demonstrate to business partners what will be forthcoming when the project is complete so that they can begin aligning their own business offerings with the new solution, begin training users of the solution before the entire solution is complete, or any number of other beneficial scenarios. To capture early benefits in this way, the project sponsor needs to carefully prioritize project requirements and work with the project team to build a release plan that aligns with the business’ strategy. Each release to a production state requires a significant investment in acceptance testing, independent quality assurance, data migration, training support staff, and other production-readiness activities. Business sponsors should carefully consider these activities and costs when determining how often they should promote work-in-progress into production, as too frequent promotions can negatively impact the business case.
Possibility of Completing the Project Early — Something that rarely happens under the waterfall method but which becomes feasible using an agile approach is the early completion of the project, saving significant time and money. If a waterfall project is terminated three quarters of the way through, the project team is probably still building the solution or is just entering the testing phase. At this point, the solution is untested and likely has many defects preventing its use by the project sponsor to achieve the expected business value. With the delivery of the solution in fully-completed segments throughout the project, with the ordering of those segments in order of business priority, and with early and continuous testing, there is the opportunity with agile methods for the business to decide to end the project early, when the remaining work is of lower priority not being worth the extra investment to build those pieces.
These last two items, when implemented, can lead to faster delivery. Project sponsors should be very conscious, however, that the early promotion of a partial solution to production incurs significant extra costs for acceptance, production readiness verification, and other transition activities. The option to end the project early also comes with the cost of cutting out some of the lower-priority project scope.

In both of these cases, increased speed of delivery comes with a significant cost that needs to be carefully considered. Sponsors citing “the need for speed” as their primary reason for pushing for an agile approach may not understand the other benefits that may be easier to obtain and may more meaningfully impact their bottom line. Single-mindedly pushing for speed may jeopardize the attainment of the project business case without a sound understanding of the activities required to transition deliverables into a production state. Project sponsors should engage in broader discussions with the delivery team to understand the required transition activities and to prepare a delivery strategy that maximizes the delivery of business value considering all relevant costs. As always, increased communication is vital for project success.

Kevin Aguanno, PMP, MAPM, IPMA-B, Cert.APM, CSM, CSP is a principal consultant with GenXus Management Consulting, a specialist in project and programme management strategy consulting with deep expertise in agile delivery frameworks. Author of over 20 books, audiobooks, and DVDs on agile topics, Aguanno teaches agile methods at several universities and at conferences around the world. Find out more at www.AgilePM.com.

Procept Associates Ltd. Announces Acquisition of TidalShift Inc.

  • By: pcadmin on 05 Feb 2018

Bringing together two training companies leading in their respective fields, Procept Associates Ltd. has acquired 100% of the shares in TidalShift Inc.

“What first attracted us to TidalShift was its Organizational Lift ModelTM,” says Kevin Aguanno, President of Procept. “This model focuses on developing understanding, skills and behaviours in three areas of competency that underpin any organization’s ability to move ahead, allowing it to be adaptive, effective, and cohesive. We found that this comprehensive model well described the needs of our clients and provided a framework for improving their performance. Through this acquisition, Procept now has a structured way of moving from being a transactional training provider to becoming a strategic partner in achieving long-term performance improvements for our clients.”

Noting the strong synergies between the two organizations, TidalShift co-founder Catherine Daw notes: “Procept’s position in the marketplace as Canada’s premiere project management training provider fits well with TidalShift’s Organizational Lift Model. We plan on leveraging Procept’s deep catalogue of offerings in this area to bolster the organizational effectiveness portion of our model. I see tremendous benefits for our clients by leveraging the combined strengths of our two organizations.”

Kevin Aguanno also commented on the strategic nature of the acquisition: “In recent years, the standards bodies and thought leaders of the project management profession have noted the growing importance of soft skills training for project leaders. In addition, there has been growing demand for benefits realization – projects need to deliver results – so change management skills are now highly sought after. TidalShift brings strong capabilities in these two strategic areas to the Procept team. We believe that the combination of these two organizations will position us well to meet the changing needs of our clients.”

While their back-office functions will merge, the two companies will continue to operate and deliver under their own brands, selling the combined offerings of the two organizations to their clients.


Based in Toronto, Ontario, Procept Associates Ltd. is an international training and consulting company with offices across Canada, in the USA, in Switzerland, and with franchises in Africa. Procept is best well known as a pioneer in project management, business analysis and IT service management training and consulting. Procept and its subsidiaries have trained over 1 million people in over 17,000 organizations since 1965 making it one of the oldest adult training providers in the world. Find out more at www.Procept.com.


TidalShift Inc. (formerly SPM Learning Ltd., the training division spun off the SPM Group Ltd. in 2010) is a leader in leadership and team development, and change management training and consulting. TidalShift has won several international awards for its work including Continuing Education Provider of the Year from the Project Management Institute and the Gold Level award from the Institute for Performance and Learning (formerly Canadian Society for Training and Development). Find out more at www.TidalShift.ca.

Team Procept Climbs CN Tower for Charity

  • By: pcadmin on 30 Jan 2018

Procept has organized a team to participate in the CN Tower Climb for Nature on Saturday, April 7, 2018.  Funds raised go to the World Wildlife Fund.  Our team, "The Procept All-Stairs," is trying to raise a minimum of $1000 for the charity.  Procept has kindly agreed to match whatever funds we raise, doubling our impact.  Please help by sponsoring our team with a donation by using the link below.  And thank you in advance for your support for this cause.

NEW VIDEO: Choosing the Right Iteration Length

  • By: pcadmin on 16 Jan 2018

Join Procept's Agile Practice Lead, Kevin Aguanno, as he answers common questions all new agile practitioners ask such as how do you choose the right iteration (or sprint) length for your project? Should you always choose the same length? And can you vary them?

Subscribe to the Procept YouTube channel to get notified of new videos as they are released.


NEW VIDEO: Bimodal Delivery Explained

  • By: pcadmin on 09 Jan 2018

JJoin Procept's Agile Practice Lead, Kevin Aguanno, as he explains "bimodal delivery" in simple, everyday terms.

Subscribe to the Procept YouTube channel to get notified of new videos as they are released.


NEW VIDEO: A Day in the Life of an Agile Team

  • By: pcadmin on 05 Jan 2018

View this video recording of Kevin Aguanno's presentation titled "A Day in the Life of an Agile Team" wherein he shows how many agile and scrum practices all come together in practice. A must-see for any agile practitioner.

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NEW VIDEO: Change is the New Norm

  • By: pcadmin on 10 Nov 2017

View this video recording of Sandra Reimer's presentation titled "Change is the New Norm: How to use Change Management Techniques in your Projects" from the International Project Management Day celebrations in Toronto on 2 November 2017.

Subscribe to the Procept YouTube channel to get notified of new videos as they are released.


2017 Scholarship Winner Announced

  • By: pcadmin on 23 Oct 2017

Procept is pleased to announce the inaugural winner of the Hans Aggarwal Memorial Scholarship, launched earlier this year to honour the memory of a deceased Procept associate who was a pioneer in business analysis education. For more details on the scholarship, please visit the Hans Aggarwal Memorial Scholarship page.

We would like to extend our congratulations to the 2017 winner: Fernando Schmidkonz.

NEW VIDEO: Exploring the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

  • By: pcadmin on 20 Oct 2017

Today, Procept published a video to YouTube that is a recording of yesterday's webinar by associate Don Wallar titled Exploring the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. The content is based on Patrick Lencioni’s bestselling book, used with his permission.

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