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February 2014

Agile Coaching: A Multi-modal Approach

By Grant Beck, Plaster Group Agile Solutions Director A few weeks ago, I attended a gathering of Scrum masters to discuss Agile best practices and the various challenges we were encountering with the adoption or execution of scrum. One Scrum Master I spoke with mentioned to me that he was an Agile Coach. An Agile coach is someone who helps teams and individuals with the transition to Agile and become high functioning by modeling and teaching Agile principles and techniques. Having taken some course work in coaching myself, I was curious what he thought it meant to be an Agile Coach. He said he ran the Scrum ceremonies, maintained the burn-down chart, and removed obstacles so the team could be productive. Making sure the team knew the responsibilities of each scrum role was also something for which he said he was accountable. I responded that I didn’t see how that was different than being a Scrum Master, but he really didn’t have a good response. A Scrum Master might employ some coaching techniques, but how is that different than being an Agile Coach? What are the competencies that a good Agile Coach should possess beyond the skills of a Scrum Master?

Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms

By Michael Lisin, Bob Vogt and Wendy Parker, Data & Analytics Team A few days ago Gartner released its 2014 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms. This year Gartner revised the Completeness of Vision axis to reflect the fact that addressing both of the following continue to elude all vendors: Business users’ requirements for ease of use to discover and visualize data Enterprises’ IT-driven requirements, such as enterprise features for governance, administration and scalability

Agile Solutions Case Study: Transitioning from Waterfall to Agile

by Grant Beck, Plaster Group Agile Solutions Practice Director Challenge Our client approached Plaster Group with a desire to undergo a transformation from Waterfall software development to Agile methodology. Prior to reaching out to Plaster Group, our client’s functional teams had grown disenchanted and frustrated with their BI and project management process. The continuous churn resulting from Waterfall methods was too open ended, and the lack of predictability and clear setting of expectations had a strong negative impact on employee morale. Additionally, team members expressed difficulty communicating with the business regarding missed deadlines and spent increasing amounts of time sourcing back-end data and developing user requirements without presenting any customer facing results. Overall, our client reported a sense of poor collaboration between the business and project teams, resulting in missed delivery deadlines, incomplete projects, and, consequently, unhappy customers.

Agile Open Northwest 2014 Recap

Plaster Group Agile consultants Shama and Grant had a great time time last week at the Agile Open Northwest conference. This year’s open space conference covered the gamut of Agile-related topics and provided an engaging environment for lively discussion. The session topics included:

The Role of Project Manager in an Agile Environment

written by Shama Bole, Sr. Agile Consultant The traditional role of a Project Manager (PM) is becoming obsolete – or at least evolving – in the world of Agile software development, and Project Managers must adapt in order to be effective. Often it is simply a matter of ‘doing whatever needs to be done’ to get or keep the project moving.