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My journey into the Agile world…

While resuming my techno-functional leadership career after a break, I found myself in an estranged pond of newly evolved methodologies and frameworks for software development. They were different from the waterfall methodology that I was attuned and accustomed to in most of my IT projects. 

Thanks to Larry Apke, a great Agile Coach and “Guru”! Attending “The Job Hacker’s MBA” cohort on Agile methodologies, founded by Larry Apke, opened up my eyes to the other avenues of software development life cycle (SDLC) in a new limelight of AGILE! Agile, in its true essence suggested constant collaboration with stakeholders and a work breakdown structure with short and continuous iterative cycles of delivery and improvements. Scrum being the most adopted framework for software development projects, I could only imagine what “Agile-Scrum World” would be like!

Will it be restrictive to work within a Scrum framework?
How is it different from other frameworks when working as part of the Scrum team?
How the Scrum values are observed and realized in a development environment?
How would the prioritization work when there are inter-dependencies of backlog items?
When can Scrum projects fail?
My curiosity and quest were growing…

I got to learn more about Agile-Scrum and it’s values in theory at a short workshop and a few meetups. However, I wanted to experience Scrum in a real software development environment. I wanted to be part of the Scrum ceremonies. I wanted to see the impacts of Scrum values and principles in the digital world. I really wanted to get hands-on experience with Scrum in different roles and tasks. Next, the pandemic hit! Remote working was the new normal. I wanted to see if Scrum truly worked if the team members worked remotely. My search to find such an opportunity went on…

From a Job Hacker’s Slack channel, I learned about Silicon Valley Project Management. It was as if I had found an oasis in the desert! SPVM project as originally abbreviated, was exactly what I was looking for. I applied. After a phone interview to learn about my professional background and skills, I joined this project at the ASVPM organization as a volunteer. Once aboard, I found myself surrounded with versatility and a wealth of opportunities to groom my skills, learn and contribute. I joined a Scrum team to develop and improve the features and UX of the Digital website. My Scrum journey had begun…

Agile Scaled-Value Project Management (ASVPM) is a non-profit organization. It has a blog content management website called SVProjctManagement.com. The website is meant for aspiring and accomplished Project Management professionals with an Agile mindset to share their knowledge and views. It provides pro-bono projects within Agile frameworks. While working through the Agile-Scrum projects within short sprint cycles of four weeks, daily stand-ups, ceremonies with a continuous feedback loop, I started seeing the Agile Manifesto unfold…

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools,
Working software over comprehensive documentation,
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation,
Responding to change over following a plan

These values and principles of Agile were organically integrated into our ways of working and deliverables. We started seeing what worked and what didn’t in retrospect. As agile Scrum team members, we quickly adapted and made changes in the next sprint. I got the opportunity to refine the Product backlog and assist Scrum Master in tracking progress and created burndown charts for a few Sprint cycles. I was experiencing Agile-Scrum and some more…

The number of team volunteer members grew over time. The team was divided into three sub-teams – One with a focus on blog content, one for design and development and, another one for SEO and Marketing. This opened up opportunities to explore other areas and unveiled the hidden abilities of volunteers. For those making a career switch, this came in as a boon. Those acclaimed in their respective fields of expertise have been able to diversify their knowledge base and mentor other volunteers. With volunteers from diverse backgrounds joining in, we learned and experimented with Kanban and Lean methods as well. Next, I found myself working with Google Analytics, content, and marketing strategies. This opened up an avenue for me to explore Agile-Scrum in SEO and Marketing…

At ASVPM, all sub-teams follow the same Sprint cycle. Each sub-team has a Product Owner, Scrum Master, and development team. All sub-teams work in close coordination, maintain transparency, inspect and adapt. All of them work from a single backlog with categorized backlog items identified based on the objectives and nature of tasks involved. The team members are located in different geo-locations worldwide. Working remotely during the pandemic has not hindered the Sprint cycles, goals, and deliverables. We are all self-managing teams where members collaborate and communicate using Slack, Zoom, Doodle, and Email. The product backlog is managed and tracked on Trello and Jira, combined with visualization on Google sheets. These have shown different flavors of tracking progress on project tasks. Burndown and burn-up charts are created to monitor progress. Sub-teams vote and assign points to the product backlog items using the Poker Planner application in Slack. Teams collaborate and find creative ways to continuously improve, evolve and support each other. I am able to experience Agile-Scrum which has evolved in action!

ASVPM has provided me and many others, a platform SVProjctManagement.com to learn, adapt, and thrive. Our accomplished and expert Project Management and Agile Coaches, David Bakhtnia and Donald Stringari have always been there to mentor, guide, and support. ASVPM has provided a safe environment and flexibility to the volunteers to experiment and learn. It has allowed teams to make mistakes, learn from it, regroup themselves and successfully achieve the project goals. It is this quotient of freedom that sets ASVPM apart from any other organization and makes it unique and Agile. I am proud to be an Agile volunteer at ASVPM!

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2 thoughts on “My journey into the Agile world…”

  1. Altyn Gylyjova

    Hi Apala,
    Thank you for sharing your experience in “Agile-Scrum World”. I have enjoyed reading your article.
    I went through the same journey of transitioning from Waterfall to Agile including from the same “The Job Hackers MBA” and “Silicon Valley Project Management” trainings and hands on projects.
    I am grateful to The Job Hackers and ASVPM non profit organizations that provide to the community with professional trainings and practices that help many people with career change.
    This journey gave us a great learning opportunity.

    1. Apala Chandola

      Thank you, Altyn Gylyjova. ASVPM, indeed is a unique place to be in. It has provided a plethora of opportunities to the professionals in learning the best practices, developing and thriving with an Agile mindset and be able to contribute at the same time.

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