Receive 30% Off May Courses!

written by: Admin on March 27th, 2015

30-percent-off-discount-sale-icon_2With the summer season approaching, we know how difficult it can be to stay motivated. Although training may not be at the top of your list, its becoming increasingly important to stay ahead of the game and continually refresh your skills in order to maintain a competitive advantage. To help keep the momentum going, we’re offering 30% our May 2015 training sessions. Register online or mention code MAY30 to receive 30% off your registration.  For more information and a list of available courses and sessions, please visit


Discover the new Agile For Managers Course!

written by: Jennifer Johnson on May 19th, 2015

Overcome one of the biggest barriers to Agile Adoption – the lack of buy-in from management – and equip yourself with Agile concepts to lead your team to greatness!


Agile Management techniques have been proven to promote autonomy and respect throughout teams, leading to higher productivity, stronger loyalty and overall higher performance by team members. By taking the Agile for Managers Workshop, managers will get an overview of the benefits of Agile and become armed with the deep knowledge of principles, vocabulary and ceremonies of an Agile Framework.

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6 Tips for Unifying the Product Owner and ScrumMaster

written by: Melody Yale on May 18th, 2015

Recently, I attended an Agile coaching class and I quickly realized I was the only Product Owner in a class full of ScrumMasters and Agile Coaches. It was an eye opening experience for me because many ScrumMasters were there to understand how they could help their Product Owners be more effective. Ouch! Are we that bad?

The Product Owner and ScrumMaster are often running in different directions. The ScrumMaster is responsible for the process and has a tough job making the stars align for everyone on the Scrum team. Being responsible for the product, the Product Owner is often spending time outside of the Scrum team gathering information from stakeholders and setting expectations with the business units. But as servant leaders of the Scrum team, it is imperative that these two people are in sync.

 PO and SM blog post photo

In order to serve the development team adequately I’ve found a few ways to help Product Owners and ScrumMasters build trust and lead the team in the same direction.

For Product Owners….

Engagement is key. High engagement encourages trust. Product owners must engage with ScrumMasters and development teams.

  1. Ask your ScrumMaster for advice. It’s amazing how asking for advice can bond two people. It shows respect. And the only way the process works is if you understand what everybody needs.
  2. Meet regularly one-on-one with your ScrumMaster.  I find it helpful to meet with my ScrumMaster at least once every sprint. We discuss the backlog, where we’re headed next, and any changes that have occurred since the last sprint planning. The ScrumMaster can ask questions about the backlog items. This is good practice for when you need to talk with the development team about the backlog.
  3. Treat your development team as your customer. As the product owner you are the hub of activity between various organizational departments (Business Unit Managers, Marketing, etc), your development team included. Make sure you are responding to what the development team needs so they can continue to make progress.

For ScrumMasters…..

Leading by example is key. You represent the essence of the Scrum team.

  1. 1.       Recognize when your Product Owner is not needed. For example, if you don’t want your PO to be involved in the “how” then don’t make them be involved in the “how”. If you’re digging deep into implementation during sprint planning, then excuse your PO to go work on other things you might need.
  2. 2.       Don’t Place Blame. It’s tempting to point out other people’s deficiencies. But in the case of supporting your Product Owner with the team, give them the benefit of the doubt and discuss any issues during your regular one-on-one meeting.
  3. 3.       Define a working agreement. Many times Product Owners just don’t know what is expected of them. By creating a working agreement, it opens up lines of communication and lets everyone know when they will be held accountable. Does the Product Owner need to be at daily scrums and sprint planning? Would the team like the Product Owner to attend sprint retrospectives? This helps the Product Owner focus on what is important, especially if they have other responsibilities outside of the team.

Once the ScrumMaster and Product Owner build trust with each other they have a unified voice with the Scrum team. The extra effort will produce a return on your investment. The collaboration between the Product Owner and ScrumMaster will provide a support structure for team cohesiveness. Team members will feel good about the work they are accomplishing, will be committed to meeting goals, and will be happy when the team succeeds. And in the end this chain reaction increases performance.


The Essence of Ethics in Project Management

written by: Dave Caccamo on May 11th, 2015

When I was in the Navy, one of the very first lessons I was taught concerned the truth.  When you are asked a question, you reply with the truth.  Not with what the questioner wants to hear; not with what lets you off the hook; and certainly not with what is convenient or shaded to put you in the best possible light.  Just the truth.  In a military environment, answering truthfully is more than just good ethical behavior – it literally can be the difference between life and death.  If a ship’s captain does not know the truth of a situation, he will inevitably end up making not only wrong decisions, but dangerous ones of well.

Coming from that background to my first project management job was, to put it mildly, a shock.  I was appalled to meet managers who actually wanted to be lied to and who firmly believed that willful ignorance conferred plausible deniability upon them.  I once reported an inconvenient fact IN WRITING to my boss only to see him turn apoplectic at the thought that now he could no longer point fingers at others.  “Don’t ever do that again!” he hissed at me.  I did not – I left.

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Up Coming Web Seminar- Unifying the Product Owner and ScrumMaster

written by: Melissa Monroe on May 11th, 2015

A major benefit of agile development is empowered, high-performing teams. To get there, Product Owners and ScrumMasters have to collaborate and employ consistent practices. This exciting webinar will take a deep dive into a few ways to unite the ScrumMaster and Product Owner in order to enable development team success. Product Owners, ScrumMasters, and mid-level managers, especially those that are new to Agile will benefit from this information.

This free web seminar will take place on June 1 at 12:00 pm EDT and attendees will receive 1 PDU.

Register Here


Use Cases in Scrum

written by: Rob Snowden on May 5th, 2015

With the momentum of moving to Agile-like project tactics, the development of blended methods is taking place.

If an organization is not ready to go full Scrum, the advent of Agilefall, Wagile, or whatever you want to call it, allows bits of Scrum to be used. Projects are being broken up to smaller efforts, regular standups are taking place, and there’s movement toward user stories, then acceptance criteria. Another blend is the approach of starting with user stories, then writing use cases to detail out the original user story vs. identifying lower level user stories and acceptance criteria.  It makes sense and can save time.

If each step in a use case is written as a separately testable unit, then voila, you have your acceptance criteria.  If there is a step that has a lot of detail in it (like “System validates credit card”) that could have been a lower level user story such as “As a system, I need to validate the credit card to ensure payment can be made”, but in a use case world, it’s a sub use case/sub function, with another set of steps written as separately testable units, and once again, the acceptance criteria is identified.

So, you can scrumify your projects by use casing your user storification even if you’re not ready to fully commit to Agile.


FREE Workshop at IIBA Chapter Meeting this Wednesday!

written by: Madeline Streicher on April 28th, 2015

Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to get ACTUAL requirement priorities?!? Sorry, the proverbial “they are ALL important” wouldn’t cut it. And, if so, does it sound like a long and painful process?

Well, most the times you would be right (as you can imagine, I can almost guess what most of you would answer ;).
But it doesn’t have to be so.

This Wednesday (April 29th, 2015) the Research Triangle Park IIBA Chapter ( offers a free workshop to all chapter members (guests welcomed as well) dealing with all these pesky challenges. You can learn about the basic concepts from the workshop’s presentation slides (available at, including the latest updates from IIBA/BABOK 3.

But if you really want to get the most out of this, join the workshop. We will work together to go beyond BABOK and come up with a much much faster and better way to prioritize requirements!


Web Seminar Recap: Managing Change: Why 70% of All Change Initiatives Fail

written by: Delaney Galvin on April 24th, 2015

This presentation was presented by David Mantica on April 23rd.

70% of all change initiatives fail, and 16% of a workforce will change their job or use their power to stop change. The result is major disruption with no benefit. To fail and lose 16% of your workforce while failing is a pretty scary proposition. For folks looking to move to Agile methods or driving a product that will do creative destruction to any organization, the odds are stacked against you.

Successful leaders understand the keys to guiding workplace change are to be clear-headed, responsive, alert, and dynamic. It is not a time to sit back and watch from the sidelines. Managing change is not a top-down or trickle-down approach. It is about active involvement and getting key stakeholders involved in not just planning but also executing the outcome. Ultimately you have to learn how to handle change resistors and how to minimize the impact of change outside the change zone to reduce the collateral damage. In this seminar you also learned:

• Necessary elements of change management
• Stages of change that people and organizations go through
• Reasons people resist change and strategies to overcome resistance
• To minimize negative change impacts by using the change curve model

Missed this seminar? Catch up by downloading the slides and recording here.