Background and Introduction to Agile
I first learned about the Silicon Valley Project Management group through a colleague of mine, Ramon Silva. Ramon and I share a common interest in the Agile methodology for managing projects. Ramon is a certified Scrum Master, and I am a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). When he introduced me to the group, I submitted my application indicating my interest. Soon after that, Don Stringari, the Product Owner, reached out to me to schedule an interview.
I met with Don on August 23, and he explained the SVPM team’s approach for managing its projects. Sprint 16 was finishing up, and Sprint 17 would start in September. It felt like a long month, but that time was soon upon me. I was excited to learn that the group used tools I was familiar with: Slack, WordPress, Google Drive, and Zoom. I was delighted to know I would learn how to use tools such as Trello and possibly Astra, which are tools I have seen in job descriptions. What’s more, I will be able to update my resume with Trello as a skill!
Our team does not share a co-location; we live in multiple time zones around the world. The software tools we use enable us to manage projects seamlessly regardless of our geolocations and time zones.
So far, the process is very much like ‘textbook’ Agile training, which I can apply to my SVPM experience. For example, I participated in the Content Admin & Management (CAM) backlog refinement meeting the week of September 20. Our team’s focus is on website content and membership management at a high level. Our team’s scrum masters are Sara Tripiana and Meghana Anand.
The Sprint Planning Meeting could be the first team meeting, but in our case, our first meeting was the backlog planning meeting. It was there that Don introduced me to the Fibonacci Sequence. According to the project management institute (PMI), “Fibonacci numbers typically used in planning meetings are 1, 3, 5, 8 and 13. The number 1 indicates that only a small amount of work is needed to complete the task. The number 13 indicates that the entire two-week sprint is needed to complete the task.” These numbers are not hours. They remind me of the rating of perceived exertion (RPE), a numerical value self-assigned during physical exercise. Our development team’s Sprint Backlog Planning Meeting was followed by the Sprint Planning Meeting.
The Actual Sprint Planning Meeting was on September 27, and although I was on holiday at the time, the team made it possible to stay current by recording the meeting through Zoom. On Tuesday, October 5, I watched the discussion and reviewed my product backlog items (PBIs) and the rest of the development team’s PBIs. I followed up on another team member’s PBI for clarification to update the team’s burndown chart. The burndown chart’s purpose is to measure the team’s planned progress against its actual progress each day of the sprint. The baseline of the burndown chart is based on the Fibonacci numbers assigned to the backlog items during the backlog planning meeting.
Unlike classic standup face-to-face meetings, ours will be virtual through Slack on Mondays and Fridays, and on Wednesdays, we will meet on Zoom. My first standup will be tomorrow, Wednesday, October 6, and I’m nervous and excited at the same time. I now have worked on this PBI, and I will report the team’s progress tomorrow when I review the burndown chart showing our collective progress to date.
The standup was virtual, and we had great participation. Each team member reported on their PBI progress and any impediments they faced. The Product Owner (PO) and Scrum Masters were there to answer any questions team members had. After the standup, I realized I had partially completed the burndown chart, so the standup helped me fill in the gaps. I received great feedback from the Scrum Master on the burndown chart.
I learned that the burndown charts hyperlinks were there for a reason. I did not pay a lot of attention to the style of the PBIs in the burndown chart, but they link to the PBIs in Trello. Once I learned this, I also got a quick how-to from the Scrum Master, and I linked a task for verification. Sara, the Scrum Master, quickly verified I had linked the PBI as expected to the PBI in the burndown chart. After this feedback, I updated the remaining hyperlinks. I’m enjoying my time on the team so far!