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Traditional Gantt chart or Agile sprints to plan your project - Why not both?

Ziemba

Author: Christopher Michael Ziemba, PMP

Traditional Gantt chart or Agile sprints to plan your project - Why not both?

On January 21, 2021, PMI Switzerland received a special treat. Our own Martin Härri (PMI PMP®, PMI-SP®, PMI-ACP®) condensed for us important lessons from his 30 years of project experience into an 80-minute web event. As a founding member of PMI Switzerland, former chapter president and ever-present volunteer, Martin is hardly a new face for our membership. He is currently serving as the Coordinator of our Chapter’s Corporate Network and Co-Lead for Swiss PM Conference 2021. 

Martin’s presentation describes in detail the hybrid project management strategy he has developed and implemented for a particularly complex project at SIX, in his role as a Senior Project Officer. The 20+ million Swiss Franc New Clearing Platform Project began with an Agile approach (backlog of features to be developed in sprints), but this was quickly determined not to be suitable, as the project needed much more detailed planning in advance. The ultimate solution was a bespoke approach utilizing favorable and appropriate elements of both Traditional and Agile approaches. At the core of this approach is a detailed plan, as in any traditional project. However, the management cycle follows more an Agile approach and has 5 steps, i) Set up schedule, ii) Start Sprint, iii) Execute work, iv) Close Sprint and Demo, and v) Retrospective. Martin described how his implementation of each step suits the needs of his project and notes which elements are drawn from Traditional, and which are drawn from Agile practices. 

Particularly noteworthy points from the presentation include using the Gantt chart for planning the schedule but generally relying on the scrum board to manage the work, the concept that you can demo anything, not just software releases, and the importance of tracking the execution of actions that arise from the retrospective. Martin also described the tools that he employs through the project cycle and ultimately conducted a live retrospective with the audience.

The feedback from the audience (of up to 140 participants) was overwhelmingly positive both during the retrospective and in the survey collected after the event. I would like to thank Martin once again for providing PMI Switzerland with an incredibly constructive, specific and insightful presentation, delivered in an engaging and professional manner.

Organizational support for this event was provided by Pia Henzelmann, Isatu Barrie, Prasanth K. Nair and Christopher M. Ziemba. A recording of Martin’s presentation, with questions from the audience, is available at https://youtu.be/5dvgHTbrPVw. 

 

Martin Härri

 

Project cycle

PMP Open Space event February

Patryk Nosalik

Author: Patryk Nosalik, PMP

With so much disruption going on, where can you discuss the fundamentals of your everyday PMP practice? At PMI Open Spaces (OS)!

 

Since many of you like the interactive workshops where you can make network connections, whilst being heard in a safe space, we are starting 2021 with a bimonthly cycle of Open Spaces.

Last year we broached Agile topics, we went far out on the role of the Product Owner.  We found this on one hand ‘sexy’ but on the other maybe not so many of us actually are or have had much to do with all forms of Agility.  Yet most of us are, or hope to become, Project Management Professionals, so in conducting a retrospective of our last session, we want to start with something probably more relevant to all of us.

How many of you find that… you don’t use all of the knowledge areas covered by the PMBOK in your daily work? Yet are you fascinated by those areas?

Or, when flashing your PMP credential, may it be that the new project / new employer/ new client, could expect your expertise where maybe you haven’t had so much practice recently?

Or particularly in Switzerland, where so many PMI members are of an international background, would you like specific help on Swiss stakeholder management? Or even, are you Swiss and would like to put these international PMs straight?

Or have you found that the application of a particular knowledge area or technique is more problematic in your particular environment than you had thought just from learning about it? And despite the forthcoming changes in the new PMBOK, you still need to know the fundamentals of project management. 

 

So, this is why we feel there is a need to provide a safe space to address these potential issues and questions you may have. In order to make sure it is safe, i.e. that you may want to share some of the things that you find difficult, we are making some improvements to our meeting:

  • No recording – no, you won’t see the event after the event. You are free to share secrets and it stays within the few people in your breakout room.
  • Smaller breakout rooms – it is easier to open up to a few people than to many, so we will open many small break out rooms to create the necessary intimacy and so you can build trust more easily with your colleagues.
  • It may sound obvious, but we’ll facilitate an ice-breaker so you know who you are sharing your know-how with, and this will help you make good network connections, something you can’t always do at a typical webinar.
  • We only have the topics that you bring, in this way we don’t have issues someone else found interesting but could be irrelevant for you. So do come armed with your real-life problems you want solved by your trusted expert colleagues.

We can go over any topics you have, as that is how an Open Space works. Since we also like to share the know-how of the facilitation format as much as we see value in its outcome, I provide here the Open Spaces principles and how this next session is to be run.  Of course you can adapt to your own needs in your company. Usual purposes of these are to use the collective intelligence of all the participants, not hampered by hierarchy or silo, such as for creative ventures, problem solving and retrospectives.

 

OS Principles:

  • Whoever comes is the right people
  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  • When it starts is the right time* 
  • When it's over, it's over **
  • The Law of Two Feet ***

Now since they were devised for a physical environment, I here offer adaptations to an online format: 

* We will start on time, but when we go to breakout-rooms within the event may vary  

** We will probably go on until the allocated time, but we can give ourselves the flexibility in the future

*** “The Law…” this refers to the possibility of using your “two feet” to go elsewhere if you want to add or gain value elsewhere, so online this would mean going between breakout rooms at the event. If leaving the event altogether, for the benefit of learning so important in agility, please do let us know why you leave if you do, it would be most kindly appreciated.

 

Proposed OS format for 18th February: 

  1. All participants start in one room with an introduction of the theme to be addressed.
  2. All participants introduce themselves in say 10-30 seconds (depending on numbers) say name, position, company, what is the main thing they’re coming with  (a summary, not the detailed question or case study at this stage).
  3. The participants are invited to add their questions for discussion to the backlog 
  4. The Backlog of items to be discussed is in the hands of the facilitator and could be visible to all.
  5. Participants can add to the backlog either on own or via organiser or facilitator depending on the set up chosen.
  6. A backlog of items can either be collected in advance or from the participants, or brought in for the meeting, (on the 18th we will do it at the meeting itself) in which case a part of the time of the session is for this backlog creation.
  7. Facilitator will take a few items, create breakout rooms for each, and participants may go to any room they like.
  8. The room will be held open for a short time, say 5-10 minutes.
  9. The person whose question it is, should ask it to the group to get answers and clarify any uncertainties until they get the required understanding. 
  10. Anyone else in the room can answer, comment, and so on.
  11. Discussion for each item is timeboxed to a predetermined several minutes, i.e. 5-10 minutes.
  12. People can change rooms (law of two feet).
  13. At the end of the time, everyone comes back to the main room.
  14. Facilitator takes the next few items to be addressed, and the rooms are recreated for the new items.
  15. Participants can add to the backlog at any time.
  16. At the end, everyone should reconvene for a general Q&A / feedback sharing.

Now whilst the theme is classic PMP areas, Open Spaces themselves are an agile meeting format, so we do reserve the right to some changes on the 18th, and that’s ok. If this event goes well, we’d like to hear of participants' engagement to fuel topics for further themes to these cyclical drop-in interactive events made by PMI Switzerland for you, be it around classic PMP or agile PM topics. In the meantime, see you 18th February!

New Year’s Resolution - Future Proof your Career; first Job-aid event

New Year’s Resolution - Future Proof your Career; first Job-aid event

PMI Switzerland’s mission has always been and will continue to be to support the Swiss Project Professionals community with relevant expert knowhow to help them stay relevant in their careers.

But in our fast pacing, uncertain and rapidly changing time some of us are suddenly faced with another challenge – to find a new job. Here we want to jump in and offer some support. Over the coming months we will be offering some events that focus specifically on the topics of "job search” and “career advancement". So be curious about our “job-aid“ series …

And we’re start the new year right away with a first “job-aid” event: New Year’s Resolution - Future Proof your Career - 14th January with Dr. Agata Czopek

“The times are not easy, the world is changing fast, new technologies impacting ways of working, companies reinventing their businesses. How to stay relevant to the job market, how to prepare yourself for the challenge of finding new opportunities? What are the top skills of the future?”

Interested? Go here to find more information and to register: https://www.pmi-switzerland.ch/index.php/events/events-list/new-years-resolution-future-proof-your-career

Traditional Gantt chart or Agile sprints to plan your project - Why not both?

Some people say that projects are either executed in a traditional (plan-driven with a Gantt chart) or Agile (prioritized backlog-driven with a scrum board) way. However, Martin Härri will present how he successfully combined the two approaches for a 20+ million project at SIX. It is 6 years ago where Martin Härri held his legendary (as he claims :-) ) presentation entitled “Who is afraid of Microsoft Project”, where he shared 10 best practices how to use this tool to successfully manage projects. And now he dares to present again, this time with a different tool (Jira), and with a very interesting approach. Do you think it is possible to mix agile and waterfall project planning and tracking practices to keep a large project under control? Martin claims to be doing this successfully for a 20+ project at SIX, the Swiss financial services company, and he will share how he does it. Combining Gantt chart and demos/retros? Absolutely! Combining due dates and sprints? Very well possible!

If you are curious, don’t miss the event on 21 January 2021 on “Experiences from applying a hybrid approach when planning a 20+ million project”

 

Who is afraid of MS Project

Editorial Newsletter January 2021

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Dear members and newsletter subscribers!

A difficult year gone by! With 2021 ringing in, new hopes and desires of well-being throughout the world arises. As Switzerland is going through stricter measures and regulations during this pandemic, we continue to learn and grow together in PMI Switzerland community. There is no stopping for all of us to work and learn harder than ever, keeping our spirits alive.

PMI Switzerland community is striving continuously the best learning outcomes through latest innovations in various subject areas. Last year, we had an exceptional response for our online events, our online events and meets are continuing to be successful with newer additions. With a series of events that would support all our members in their careers is the latest edition to our regular online events.

It’s great to see that we were able to put PMI’s structures and processes today in these challenging times into practice. With successful PMI online coffee meets, online events, online workshops, and now the latest addition of career event series. I am sure this is just the beginning, there is more to rejoice and learn together in 2021.  

I would like to thank PMI Switzerland community for creating innovative online events and takeaways every month,aspiring  all of us to stay committed and focused in our expertise.

I wish every member of PMI community, a very Happy, Healthy and Safe Year. Let’s all think positive and keep learning ensuring  a great 2021 ahead.

Cheers!

Geetanjali Bhat