Opportunities for Project Managers in the Lean-Agile Enterprise with SAFe®
You Asked, We Answered
We’ve compiled answers for questions asked during our Opportunities for Project Managers in the Lean-Agile Enterprise with SAFe® webinar. Please click on each question to view the answer. If you have any additional questions or would like to speak with someone regarding your Lean-Agile transformation, contact us and someone will be in touch shortly.
I’m not familiar with the term “stories” used in this context. Could you please define “stories” more?
Can a Project Manager with no technical expertise be a successful RTE?
What is DevOps/the DevOps Methodology?
DevOps is a set of principles and practices that extend Agile beyond the development team and into the parts of the organization that run the operational, infrastructure, and even support activities around the systems that developers build. It focuses on building a more continuous flow of new functionality and value by having those traditionally siloed functions work together, plan together, and improve together.
There is an entire body of knowledge around DevOps, and some great books such as “The Phoenix Project” and “The DevOps Handbook” that you might want to explore. You can also get started by reading our DevOps article.
What about applying Change Management to enable the team to adopt, adapt, and sustain this new way of thinking?
We look to some of the best thought leaders in change management, from John Kotter, to Chip & Dan Heath and others, to address the significant change factor that occurs in an Agile transformation. A lot of that change management guidance is built into our recommended Implementation Roadmap for SAFe adoption article.
*Note that there are sub-articles for each step in the roadmap, so this is a deeply addressed topic in SAFe.
Should Product Owners (PO) use Change Management strategies to enable the team to decompose Features into Stories and socialize them into the new mindset?
How does the experience/skillset/training differ between roles?
Where in the organization should the Lean Center of Excellence (LACE) be located, and what sponsorship and support do they need from the Executive Level?
Are there “ability” tests for the various agile roles?
Not per se. Each role has a corresponding SAFe role-based course that individuals can attend and complete the certification exam that accompanies it. This sets a baseline of knowledge and understanding related to that course’s learning objectives. In terms of assessing someone’s other abilities to perform specific roles, those judgments are largely subjective, and determined through each organization’s placement process.
We provide guidance on the attributes that we typically find in people successfully performing each role in our role-based articles on the Framework website, which can be useful in evaluating candidates for specific roles.
Is “done” defined as when the PO says the work is done, or by the developers who say the work is done?
How do we make the transition? I have many years of experience with Project Management and I obtained my Scrum Master Certification, but don’t have much Agile experience.
If your organization has or is considering an Agile initiative, the easiest path is to meet with your supervisor or HR department to explore opportunities to assume a role in that effort where you can gain experience with this new way of working. If such an effort is not yet underway but you see areas where one could begin, perhaps you could be the change agent that proposes a pilot or prototype to see if it would produce better business results for your organization.
If all else fails, you may ultimately need to find a position with another organization that understands the value of your PM experience and your desire to translate that background into a role as an Agile practitioner.
What are some of the main differences between Agile and Scaled Agile?
How do we move from Project to Product in the service based industry?
These roles are really interesting, but my company demands experience. I’m considering a Product Manager role, but I don’t have the experience as a Project Manager. What are my options?
It sounds as if project management is being phased out in a sense. Is that the case?
It is being phased out in the fast-moving, innovative, disruptive technology programs where there are high degrees of uncertainty about the final solution or the steps required to get to a release-able product. In that context, an empirical model is more appropriate than the defined process model that been historically promoted in PMBOK. It’s essentially the iterative, incremental, scientific model that has been used in R&D for decades. It’s only in the last 20 years that technology professionals have come to the conclusion that the empirical model is a better fit for the inherent nature of their work.By the way, where the work to be done is well defined, well known, highly predictable, etc., the traditional project management practices still work great!
One consistent flaw I have noticed in almost all Agile-related presentations thus far involves the definition/identification of Product Owner as a singular person during the course of the entire project when, in fact, very large projects will likely require multiple Product Owners, each having specific experience and knowledge that other Product Owners do not. Your thoughts?
A properly-formed Agile team should only have one Product Owner (PO) at any given time. The PO has a responsibility to ensure the team’s backlog is properly defined and prioritized so the team can pull the next most important piece of work as they have capacity. Multiple POs at the same time is a terrible anti-pattern that never works well!
It is true that over time, as the focus of the work in the backlog for a team shifts from one system or domain to another, a new PO with more experience in that area may be required. The PO may also draw upon Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to supplement their own knowledge, but ultimately they have the responsibility to decide the backlog items and priority. This is a critical element for decentralized decision making and self-organizing, which is fundamental to all Agile methods, including SAFe.