Increase My Velocity, Baby!

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Managers often ask me – “What should I do to increase our team velocity?” And the answer I give is very simple – “Just double the story points for each user story”. After that they usually smile and think I am joking. But I am serious, as usual.

Managers not only expect team to increase it’s velocity in this sprint, they expect team to continuously improve velocity. “Give me 10 story points increase each sprint!”. I also heard managers complaining that team has the same velocity for the last 7-10 sprints.  We have this great metric – team velocity – for planning and budgeting. Going from sprint to sprint we collect the statistics and understand what amount of work team can do during the next sprints. But management is often too optimistic about this metric – they start measuring everything on base of velocity, even the team productivity.

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Fixed Price Projects and Agile, or The Scariest Nightmare

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Fixed price contract is by itself the greatest nightmare in the project manager’s life. But when it is combined with agile development frameworks – scrum/kanban/etc – it becomes also a tricky nightmare.

Usually, when clients ask you for “fix price” they mean: fixed money, fixed scope, fixed time. Some of the most reasonable clients I worked with on fixed price projects told me “We are not crazy! Let’s not fix the time! But we should be live till the 1st of June, we have this marketing campaign, you know…”

Even if you work in the “so agile” software development company there is the day when the sales manager comes to you and says: “Hi! We have a new project. I have a bad and a good news for you. The bad one is that it is fixed price, I know how you hate it. But the great one is that you can still your agile, client is ok with it”. So, let’s discuss what you, as PM, can do in this situation.

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Project Managers Motivation

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There are thousand of posts for project managers about motivating their teams on the internet. While searching “Motivating Project Managers” I kept coming across the articles about the developers and how PM should behave. You can’t be a great PM without been a good motivator, so PMs are asked about the ways to motivate developers on every interview. But I think we miss some important item here – the motivation of the Project Managers. We assume that they are somehow already motivated and shine bright every day. Otherwise they can’t motivate the team, right? But no one cared about their motivation in software companies I know, they just required the managers to be “self-motivated”. We just don’t take that into account, as we don’t take into account that all our developers are not so brilliant as we think (and this is normal).

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Variations of Lego Scrum simulation and lessons learned

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Almost 2 years ago I wrote about my experience with Lego Scrum simulation. Since that time I practised it about 10 times with different teams – inside and outside of my company. When you start playing it for the 2-3rd time you get a bit tired of building the city, so we changed the theme and the backlog every time) I also discovered, that this game helps teams not only to understand the Scrum better, but to uncover some conflicts existing in the teams. When I stopped trying to combine the roles of trainer and product owner and invited my gorgeous colleague Dmitry Velikoivanenko (thank you, thank you a lot for all you have done!) to join I was able to get more from the sessions, as I had time to observe the team’s behaviour.

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Why there are so many jokes about Project Managers?

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Why I hear so often from developers that project managers they work with are the least educated and know next to nothing about the work their employees do? I can’t even decide who is the least respected by developers – managers or QAs. Of course, when I am talking to my teams I hear jokes only about QAs…But who knows what happens when I leave the room? 🙂
It seems that we constantly pass over qualified people for promotion and somehow get a lot of terrible idiot project managers. How that can be?

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WTF Project Manager is doing in Scrum team?

IMG_6532Thousands of companies are changing to agile, thousands are already agile (they tell you so very confidently). Some of them implemented Scrum. But I still come across of a lot of Project Managers in such companies. Ok, even better – I have a title of “Senior PM” myself (I hope no one from my teams/colleagues will not see my business cards, as they don’t know I am a PM ^_^). When company implements scrum they have to make a hard decision – what to do with these PMs we have? And usually they have a lot of PMs. I have seen companies where there is 1 PM per each 2 developers. Usually they become Scrum Masters or Product Owners, as it seems the most natural way. Just change the title and that is all – you are the Scrum Master now. Sometimes PMs are left as they were – they still “manage” the projects.

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