Karmona's Pragmatic Blog

Don't get overconfident… Tiny minds also think alike

Karmona's Pragmatic Blog

Scrum Master vs. Project Manager

July 30th, 2007 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 1 Comment

Old-English-Sheepdog - Scrum Master - Project ManagerTo my humble opinion they are very much alike but Scrum do take project management to the extreme (like everything else) so the bottom line for me is that:

Scrum Master = Extreme Project Manager

(short post and without internal references this time but I couldn’t resist the bold stuff ;-)

→ 1 CommentTags: Agile · Project Management · Scrum · Software Management

Scrum by “Natural Selection”

July 26th, 2007 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 3 Comments

Agile & DilbertAfter watching many Agile project failures and during most of my adult-software-life you could easily bumped into me saying (with agile critiques link referencing embedded :-)
Agile can only fit hello- world project scale… It is a bad excuse for weak management, development chaos, poor planning capabilities, lousy communication skills and lazy “we don’t need documentation” programmers – There is no silver bullet for handling software but those agile manifesto guys really found the silver bullet buzzword for making money with the scrum-master for dummies certifications…

…Then came Scrum by “Natural Selection”:

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change” – Charles Darwin‘s Origin of Species (1859)

…So I have evolved by Natural Selection to Agile and I can’t really go back to over-planned fantasy Gantt charts that try to capture every feature in advance and predict we will finish the project exactly in 666 days …

Why “Agile”?
For using all the right buzzwords e.g. Flexibility; Transparency; Short-term predictability; Long term vision ;-)

Why “Scrum“?
Scrum provides the mechanism for making the people and process problems apparent so they can be solved – It encompasses almost any good engineering technique; very simple, not overly prescriptive and relatively small set of interrelated practices and rules which can be learned quickly and is able to produce productivity gains almost immediately.

Why not???
The main reason as I see it now, is that it is extremely simple but very hard to implement successfully* – Mainly because short iteration cycles, rapid changes and transparency brings project management headache and programmer life to extreme optimization while traditional development processes (e.g. waterfall) give you the misleading euphoria** for very long time-frames (e.g. ~666 days in the above example ;-) inside the traditional project lifecycle

e.g. Transparency forces accountability, responsibility, prioritization discussions, trade-offs, and often scope reduction. Scrum requires that managers behave differently than in the past. Instead of reviewing status reports, managers should attend Sprint reviews and retrospectives. Instead of waiting for team members to prepare and present updates, management should go to the project room and see the project’s task board and burn down chart.

Scrum isn’t a silver bullet* but a simple yet powerful encapsulation of Peopleware mindset, project management patterns and development best practices which can put you on a good starting point when you face the software challenge…

* Friendly reminder: no silver bullet in successful software management
** Although I did see few cases where a mixture of skilled project management & legendary engineers have managed to bypass that inherent misleading euphoria while allegedly practicing traditional development process but my claim is that if you look very closely they were actually practicing 90% scrum without even knowing it…

→ 3 CommentsTags: Agile · Development · Planning · Project Management · Scrum · Software Management

Blog Backlog

July 26th, 2007 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

BacklogSince I have just started blogging I find myself managing a blog-backlog; so… in the name of transparency and simplicity, I am going to keep my backlog inside the blog (a.k.a. “the backlog inside paradigm”)

(Last updated on 26-07-07)
Game Theory & Agile Development
Green Managers
The Project Manager
PMO vs. Scrum-Master
Short History / Scrumming
3rd Party Software Usage
Managing Shitty Legacy Code
How to end a research…?
Silver Bullet Software Foundation
Edsger Wybe Dijkstra (GOTO)
Scrum by “Natural Selection” / Agile-Shmegile [Scrum-Master Jar Jar :-) ; Agile Methods – Beyond the Hype ; Critique on XP ; Does XP/Scrum Violate the “Agile Manifesto”? ; Good Agile, Bad Agile ; Extreme Programming Considered Harmful for Reliable Software Development ]
Running Managers
Jim Collins, Level 5 Managers
People People People
Jim Collins, Hedgehog
Development Methodologies – Best Practices
Development Methodologies – Shared Dilemmas

This post is going to change so don’t get used to it but feel free to comment if you want to order something for my next post sprint…

→ No CommentsTags: Blogging

The Project Manager

July 25th, 2007 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

PMO & Dilbert





A project manager is a professional* in the field of project management.

A project manager’s main duty is to ensure the success of a project by minimizing risk throughout the lifetime of the project.
This is done through a variety of methods, both formal and informal**. A project manager will usually have to ask penetrating** questions, detect unstated** assumptions, and resolve interpersonal conflicts**, as well as use more systematic management skills.

According to Wikipedia statistics: 69% of project failures*** are due to lack and/or improper implementation of project management methodologies.

I didn’t have the pleasure of being a project manager but I did see some good project manager implementations and this is my recommendation:

Risk Management – Identifying, managing and mitigating project risk

Issues Management – Identifying, tracking managing and resolving project issues

Reporting – Proactively disseminating project information to all stakeholder s(a good web based project dashboard will do the trick)

Quality Management

Scope Management – Proactively managing scope to ensure that only what was agreed to is delivered, unless changes are approved through scope management

Forecasting project trends – Defining and collecting metrics to give a sense for how the project is progressing and whether the deliverables produced are acceptable

Tracking – Managing the overall work-plan to ensure work is assigned and completed on time and within budget

Monitor resources (e.g. allocation, movement, skill matrix, roles and responsibilities)

Define Development Methodology

Managing integrations & dependencies (documentation, shared infrastructure etc.)

Configuration Management

Standardization, rationalization and training of processes & procedures (e.g. customer escalations & patches, customer enhancement request, beta or EA plans etc.)

Manage projects postmortem reviews

There are many things to be said on the project manger role and I know god is in the details Kalish but I was told that my blog posts should be much shorter so I will end it here and I reserve the right to post about it again if needed… (e.g. Scrum-Master vs. PMO post will come real soon)

Good Luck Yonit! ;-)

* The term “Professional” should imply that this role isn’t trivial or intuitive as it might sounds or implemented in many organizations

** All the ‘bold**’ words should have “rang the complexity bell” – it will never be easy (or straight forward) and will require a bundle of emotional intelligence

*** When according to the same statistics 90% of projects do not meet time/cost/quality targets.

→ No CommentsTags: Development · Planning · Project Management · Software Management

People, People, People

July 24th, 2007 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

‘A’ TeamThe major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature.” (Peopleware, 1987)

I think that human capital is the silver bullet* for successful software projects – productivity, personalities, teamwork and group dynamics will make or break a project.

Picking the right people is maybe the most important managerial task so on your next interviews please remember** that knowledge can be easily acquired but personality is there to stay.

Don’t spend 90% of your interview time on knowledge when personality (and potential) is the real key for successful recruitment.

* Although “Peopleware” have a full chapter on how there is no silver bullet… but I partially agree since I never said it will be easy to get to the human capital silver bullet…
** Also remember: Somewhere today a project is failing… and I can personally guarantee that people were somehow involved in its failure!

→ No CommentsTags: Leadership · People · Recruiting · Software Management