WaterScrumFall – What Lies Beneath A Complicated Name

waterThere is no question that Agile is one of the top project management approaches these days and even littler question of it going away anytime soon. However, as more and more people start adopting the iterative practices, more innovations and modifications of them start to appear. Agile methods are being mixed together, redefined, scaled and in this particular case joined together with a completely different school of thought.

WaterScrumFall aims to breach the gap between two worlds, but does it succeed?

To put it simply, the hybrid approach joins together the linear Waterfall and the circular Agile methods to find a happy medium and the best of both approaches called the WaterScrumFall. The name looks a little heavy at the first glance, but it absolutely makes sense with the way the method is set up. Waterfall approach is used at the beginning and ending stages of the project, while the Agile (usually Scrum) approach is sprang into action right in the middle. Therefore we have it Water – Scrum – Fall, depicting the way hybrid projects are run.

The division

This structure makes sense when you think about most of the corporations and the way they react to change. Most of the companies are reluctant to switch up processes at large, however they can be easily changed in small teams, especially in the operational level. WaterScrumFall takes advantage of that – the activities that require more budgeting, planning and are related to higher management positions remain with the waterfall approach, while the execution is switched to Agile.

Let’s say an average project is composed out of 5 stages – Study/Requirements, Design/Planning, Implementation, Verification/Testing and Release/Maintenance. The first two stages require quite a bit of knowledge and analysis to make sure the project runs smoothly and thus are completed by the upper and higher management. This makes a shift to Agile difficult and the stages remain in the Waterfall methodology. Next comes the build stage that requires teams to create the products based on the laid out plan. On this operational level, making changes is much easier, thus Scrum practices are introduced.  Lastly, the resulting products have to be tested and maintained, which requires developed processes and a good overall understanding. This once more makes Agile adoption a little more tricky and the waterfall practices are used instead.

waterscrumfall

This way WaterScrumFall uses both approaches in places where they are the most comfortable for the company. Starting with Scrum on the operational level allows teams to evaluate its value and scale it at the pace they feel comfortable with. Thus avoiding rejection and misconceptions within the organization.

Two opinions

There are two schools of thought when it comes as to why the hybrid approach is necessary, but both deal with the same issue – implementing Agile practices in large organizations. The first opinion group claims that WaterScrumFall should be used as a stepping stone for companies reluctant to adopt Agile organization wide right off the bat. It sees it as a good way to start implementing Agile on a small scale and then increase gradually. Others claim that while Agile is very beneficial in the production stages, large companies simply will not benefit from a full Agile transition. Thus the hybrid approach is a great way to get the best of both worlds and keep both methods at their most suitable stages.

Whichever opinion you support, WaterScrumFall is a great way to test out Agile practices in any Waterfall company and see whether it has any potential to increase the business results in a positive way. At the same time it does not completely disregards the positives of waterfall and allows you to enjoy both methods.

Similar school of thought has been used in mixing Agile with PRINCE2, which proved to be a great solution for some.  Therefore, as I always say – don’t be scared to break the rules of Agile it may bring you the best results.

 

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What Makes A Scrum Master

trainerComing into the Agile world, we not only encounter new rules and practices, but also gain new roles to enforce them. Some of them are quite clear, like being a team member and completing tasks to add incremental value to the process. Others are a little less self-explanatory and require a deeper understanding and training in Agile. One of the most misunderstood roles is the one of a Scrum Master. While this is one of the most important ones for the Scrum team, it often gets neglected or reduced due to the lack of knowledge and experience. So what should a Scrum master be? Let’s see.

Scrum Master is defined as a person who is accountable for removing impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the product goals and deliverables. In other words, it is not about being a traditional team leader, but more about being a guide for the team to navigate difficulties and achieve success. It is in fact because the Scrum Masters role is hardly found within any other project management approaches rather than Agile, that it makes it difficult to understand and easy to misinterpret by those new to the approach.

A good Scrum Master is a listener and a facilitator first, a coach and a leader second. They should be able to not simply lead, but to create self-organizing teams that make their companies successful. They should also be the most knowledgeable and the most enthusiastic about Agile, thus relaying their passion onto the team. However, as you can guess, working on this team level is temporary only the first step in the Scrum Masters process.

All in all this role is composed out of three gradual steps – the team, the intercompany relationships and the entire system.

  • The first step is the Scrum Masters team. From the very start the person in this role is responsible for making sure the team functions well. For that they have to explain how the Agile process works, facilitate meetings, help remove any issues and coach the team so that eventually they become self-sufficient and only need assistance in extraordinary situations.  So the first step is all about assisting and guiding the team.
  • The second step speaks about relationships. Once the team processes are all figured out and running smoothly, the Scrum Master should shift their focus outward. The relationships between the team and other entities should become the focal point as well as facilitating them and aiding the product owner in building a greater overall vision. Contrary to the first step, this one is continuous and never stops.
  • The third and the last step of a Scrum Masters responsibilities is overseeing the entire system. Here they have to distance themselves even further and take a look at the whole company. See what should be fixed at the organizational level, help growing leaders and coach the whole organization to be agile.

Contrary to the popular first impression, Scrum Master is not only responsible for coaching the team, but should also be able to see the greater vision and aid the whole organization in their efforts to be Agile. Coaching the team and enabling them to work efficiently is only the first step and part of the job and focusing solely on it hurts not only the image of some Scrum Masters, but also the organization that misses out on great advice and the possibility to be steered in the right direction.

A scrum master should be a great guide and facilitator, someone passionate and positive about Agile and someone that has the ability to see not only their team, but the whole company steering them into the right direction. A positive attitude never hurts as well!

 

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Eylean vs. Jira – When Less Is More

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This week I am bringing you another comparison of Eylean Board versus an industry leader. While most would be apprehensive about choosing a smaller tool instead of an all incorporated solution like Jira, there are definitely benefits in doing so. The pricing being just a small part of that.

 

When talking about project management tools the key is always simplicity and usability. How quickly and easily can you track, monitor and control projects without being completely overwhelmed by the process. Therefore choosing your project tool should not be focused on popularity or the number of features it has, but instead on how many of those features are you planning to actually use.

In this sense, more is not necessarily better and a smaller tool can be a better fit for your team.

Jira is a full on corporate solution aimed to integrate various departments, functions and have the whole system in one place. So it is great for large corporations in need of having a single tool for the whole company. However, if you are only using it to manage a few projects, the user experience might be quite different with unnecessary functions, lags and a complicated process to do simple daily tasks.

Eylean Board on the other hand is a more particular solution created especially for project management purposes. It ensures you can perform tasks and oversee the process quickly and analyze any task or process in detail when there is a need to. Therefore for teams that just need to manage their projects it becomes a more attractive and a better option.

Before choosing any tool you should take time to understand the expectations you have. In many cases you will understand it is not about the size or the array of features, but about the actual fit.

Reed the full comparison of Eylean Board vs. Jira here.

eylean-vs-jira

 

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Eylean Board Wins 2016 Agile Project Management Software Awards From FinancesOnline

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Ever since the start of Eylean Board we have always striven to bring not only features, but also quality and great service to our customers. This is why hearing your opinions and reviews, especially the good ones is extremely rewarding. This past week a big chunk of those came straight from one of the biggest software directories Finances Online.

In the recently published Eylean Board review, the site professionals gave us not only great score, but also two awards – Great User Experience Award of 2016 and Rising Star Award of 2016 for their agile project management software category. Which not only have proven that our efforts in the best user experience to have payed off, but also recognized our work in the global markets and expansion of the brand.

Besides the usability, the review highlighted customization capabilities designed to fit a variety of different processes, built in staple project management features like time tracking, task and team management and Agile functionalities to keep up with the Scrum – Kanban trends of today. If fact, Eylean Board was also recognized among the leaders on the top project management solutions list prepared by the site’s experts.

We are proud to be recognized by Finances Online in this way and hope to hear more of your reviews in the future a well!

 

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Agile – Have We Forgotten The User?

Product testing

We all know Agile as a rapid, adaptable and user centric approach. It helps companies build products that the customers actually like and do it in a smaller amount of time compared to the other methodologies. However, could it be that in the team-client circle we have somehow managed to actually forget the user and drive off path? Let’s find out!

Agile is built in a way that the project team gets reassured of their direction after each iteration. The project planning is done based on client preferences and each cycle ends with a review meeting for the clients to evaluate the work. Therefore the team has multiple triggers built in the system to keep them on track and delivering value.

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2016 In Review – Which PM Tools Did You Use

Header-statsWhile 2016 is over and we are well into the 2017 there is still one more thing to do before we completely move on. That is reflection upon how have you used Eylean Board in 2016, what trends did you follow and how will that likely change in the future. So before any further ado, let’s review!

5-marketsCountry Of Origin

2016 has only changed the top 5 of our customer markets a little bit. In the first place we have the United States with 24.70%, followed closely by European markets – Germany at 24.48% and United Kingdom at 24.17%. Since our international client base is increasing, our home court user base is getting relatively smaller with 16.43% and the fourth place, while the fifth place is taken by Denmark with 10.75%. It is clear that there has been some movement in the top 5 markets where Eylean Board is used, the trend of strong western markets remains for now.

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Eylean vs. Trello – 5 Ways The Big Player Looses

eylean-vs-trelloWhen it comes down to choosing a project management tool, we always search for the best, the most suitable for our projects and our working habits. Many of these searches come up with Trello as a possible answer at one point or another and many teams end up choosing the online project management platform as their tool. However, I strongly believe, that this is not the sole solution in all cases and therefore want to discuss five instances where Eylean Board actually comes out on top of the industry giant.

Ready? Let’s go.

eylean-vs-trello1

The first big difference between Eylean Board and Trello is how they are used. Eylean can only be used on premise, via a local or an Eylean server, while Trello is used online. Right from the get go it is clear that the two quite similar tools cater to two different customers. The ones always on the move and in need of data accessibility anywhere are the Trello customers, while the ones working in one place or concerned about their data security are the Eylean Board customers. So if you are concerned or restricted in the way you handle data, the offline tool might be a more attractive solution. In some cases, however, the customers do not really care about whether the tool is online or offline, so let’s see what other differences the two have.

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5 Eylean Board Features To Make Project Management Easy

1. Visual board1

No matter if you have just started using Eylean Board or have been doing it for a while, it is always a good time to refresh the memory and improve the processes. That’s why this week I came up with a list of the 5 Eylean Board features that you may have forgotten or discarded, but may actually be able to benefit greatly from. So without any further ado lets dive in.

Custom Task Boards

Now, I am sure you are well aware of the possibility to create custom task boards within Eylean Board. However, did you know that you can modify the predesigned and the ones you are currently using as well? Simply hit ‘Configure’ at the top of the screen and add, delete and rearrange any columns or rows you wish. Just make sure that you remove all tasks from the column or row you wish to delete before and go ahead.

So if your process suddenly changes or the board structure does not satisfy you anymore, change it and keep on enjoying the best setup for your team!

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Make Your Agile Resolutions Stick

new year

We are all guilty of failing to keep up with our New Year resolutions as soon as the first few weeks pass by. Whether it’s taking up a sport, quitting smoking or anything else, we often find we have too little will to keep on with the changes. Our business transformations are just the same in a lot of ways and after starting with a new and exciting Agile method we need true commitment to actually make it stick for good.

Sounds hard? Well, change is never easy, but it can be made easier if you know how to make sure you and your team accept it.

Proactively form new habits

Starting something new is always fun. The first day of not smoking you feel motivated and eager to prove yourself, however, as the time goes by the excitement fades. And here is where most of us start failing in our new goals. Taking up Agile feels just the same and soon the team will forget the shiny new toy and revert to the old ways if new habits are not reinforced. So instead of starting Agile and letting it go, make sure to proactively form new rituals within your teams for at least a few months or even longer to actually make them stick.

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Season’s Greetings from Eylean

Eylean Christmas (small)Thanks to You it has been a great year and we hope the next one will be even better. We hope your holiday season is full of joy and that you greet 2017 with new ideas and replenished energy!

Eylean Team

 

 

Eylean Christmas

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