Go to Top


Agile Projects: Scrum vs. Kanban

Startup Stock Photos

by Aki Namioka, Senior Agile Consultant 

When an organization is deciding how to manage the work of an Agile team, two common paradigms are often considered:  Scrum and Kanban.  This article will discuss each paradigm at a high level, cover the advantages of each, and explain why a team might select one or the other.

Introduction to Scrum

Scrum’s history comes from software development.  It has been around, in some form or another, since 1986 and is the most common Agile paradigm in software development.  The current definition of Scrum was presented in 1995 by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. It is described as “a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal.”

At Scrum’s core is the idea of working in iterations or “Sprints”, where a cross-functional delivery team works together to meet a set of goals that are defined by a Product Owner, i.e. somebody who can represent the business interest.  A Sprint is a time box, e.g. 2 weeks.   At the end of each Sprint, the delivery team demonstrates incremental business value to the Product Owner. Read more +

Setting the Stage for Agile Transformation: Product Visioning

glasses book computer - Châu Thông Phan - stocksnapby Plaster Group’s Agile Transformation Team


Our client – a regional medical provider – tried to incorporate Agile methods in its IT departments for several years but achieved lackluster results. Waterfall methods performed as poorly or worse. Independent of methodology, project features weren’t meeting business needs, and delivery deadlines were frequently missed.

The on-boarding of new employees and a large scale data warehousing project presented an opportunity to refine Agile techniques and truly make the methodology work for the company. Our client asked Plaster Group to develop a foundation for a more successful transition to Agile. Read more +

Agile in Healthcare

Agile in HealthcareOur Agile practice area had a presence at a meetup co-hosted by Seattle Health Innovators and the Washington Chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). The event took place downtown Seattle on June 9 and was of interest to members of our Agile team because of our clients within healthcare. The meet-up focused around the theme: “How has the Agile approach evolved to work within the health and life science industries?” where a panel of local Agile practitioners discussed their first hand experience with Agile in the healthcare industry.

Central Project Portfolio Provides Convenience and Consistency for Communications Team

colorful books - Maarten van den Heuvel - unsplashby Plaster Group’s Business Solutions Team


Our client’s Communication department managed a large portfolio of projects, reporting many different data points within each project. Tracking and reporting was largely manual, and data points were not consistent from project to project. Information was tracked in many different locations including project specific sites. Not every project had its own site location.

Both team members and organization leadership wanted a single tool for capturing project information, and to reduce the need for individual project managers to produce manual reports.

Plaster Group’s Business Solutions Team was asked to build a centralized project portfolio management hub that would list projects, resources, budget, and high-level milestones and combine this data to provide management with a thorough project status. In addition, consultants would need to produce sub-sites to manage the same data at a team and project level, and implement tools capable of ad-hoc reporting. Read more +

Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Tool Evaluations

Startup Stock Photo

by Debbie Shapiro, Senior Business Intelligence Consultant 

At some point, most organizations find themselves evaluating new tools to improve and modernize their data processing. The approach taken when making these decisions is incredibly important because it will affect many aspects of the organization including budgets, the development processes while implementing the tool, the operational processes to monitor the tool once it is moved to a production system, and (most importantly) the business users and/or customers. I have witnessed a number of different approaches to performing tool evaluations — some more effective than others.
Read more +

Starbucks Chorus @ Benaroya Hall Benefit

On May 1st, Plaster Group Agile Consultant Aki Namioki, a member of the Starbucks Chorus, performed in their benefit concert at Benaroya Hall. The benefit had a great turnout in support of organizations including Saw Horse Revolution, Downtown Emergency Service Center, Pike Market Senior Center, and Real Change. Read more about the concert on the site Starbucks Melody, and check out this great clip of Street Requiem!


PMI & Agile

by Shama Bole

balancing rocks - jeremy thomas - unsplash

What grew as a creeping sort of dissonance over the past few years, in my role as project manager using Agile methodologies, has now coalesced into full blown discomfort around the question of whether the Project Management Institute (PMI) can relate to Agile. Recent readings, events and classes have featured the PMI attempting to play a central role in herding Agile into the fold of PMI-sanctioned methodologies. This article is based on my understanding of the PMI’s stance as viewed through these classes and readings. The PMI’s pitch is that Agile does not address ‘macro-level’ challenges for project management, and that this gap is covered by the PMI. The PMI claims that every Agile framework is missing two critical elements: sophisticated scheduling tools and account cost management. My take on this is that the PMI is struggling with a methodology that is outside of its paradigm and understanding.

Read more +

Plaster Group Read: The Go Giver

PG Book club

Plaster Group’s consultants all got on the same page and received a copy of The Go-Giver, A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann. A quick read, this novel shares the lessons learned by the main character, Joe, as he engages with a massively successful (but mysterious) mentor. The mentor passes to Joe his “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success”… Read more +

April 22nd’s Agile Round Table


Plaster Group hosted its first Agile Round Table of 2016 this past Friday. We had a wonderful group of participants resulting in a scintillating exchange over a variety of timely and topical issues, all proposed by the attendees themselves.


Grant Beck, our Practice Area Director for Agile, facilitated and led the group through this very engaging experience. If you would like to join our next Agile Round Table, contact us today!