San Diego, California. October 2, 2019. Global SAFe Summit
I sat anxious in the crowd of 2,100 people. The stage was empty and the lights were dimmed but I was in awe of the incredible investment in the video screens that spanned the entire front of the coliseum. They had to be 30 feet tall! The music system was cranked and I felt as if the concert was about to get started. It reminded me of that commercial from years ago; "Our rocskstars are not like your rockstars".
But I wasn't at this event for the hype of the "show". I was there to learn the latest incremental advances with respect to scaling agile. The intent is to share that information with the rest of my organization, so we can help our clients deliver value more quickly. I was also there and to share some of my learnings over the years with other attendees.
First up to speak was the CEO of Scaled Agile, Mr. Chris James. This guy is pretty cool. I don't recall a lot of what he said, but I captured some numbers. There were 570 companies represented at the event as well as 35 different countries. The company that I work for MI-GSO|PCUBED was one of 78 different partners who were in attendance. One additional stat to mention is that I am one of nearly 600 people around the world who hold the SPC [SAFe Program Consultant] certification.
The final statistic to mention is the fact that as of this article, ½ Million people have been trained on Scaled Agile Framework. That's a pretty impressive number!! Pictured below is Chris James, CEO of Scaled Agile.
The next speaker was Mr. Dean Leffingwell. He is the Co-founder of Scaled Agile and the Chief Methodologist.
I wasn't prepared for what came next; SAFe version 5.0. To give you a little background I have been working with SAFe, the Scaled Agile Framework since 2016. I have always found the framework valuable for helping align the various programs and teams that I work with towards a common goal. In that time, I have seen the framework get updated twice. But they were minor, incremental changes. Given my background in business management and portfolio management, I always felt that the Scaled Agile Framework was a little "soft" at the top. In other words lacking some processes and templates to truly guide and organization from the top down. But not anymore!
You will notice from the screenshot of the SAFe Big Picture for 5.0, there is now a blue band at the top for Business Agility. At this point, I sat up straight in my seat. Dean had my attention for sure! He went on to explain the number of many, and I mean MANY enhancements to the Big Picture.
Again, let me try to put this into perspective, if I held up the previous two versions of the SAFe Big Picture, you would be hard pressed to find the differences. But one glance in comparing this 5.0 version to its predecessor it would be easy to spot many variances.
I won't even begin to highlight some of the changes, there are just too many for this article. But what I will share is that this dawned on me; this picture has become rather complex to ME….someone who has been practicing and training on this topic for years. How on earth would a new user get their head around all of this? Or even worse yet, where do I begin in advising the next executive that SAFe really does work and will help their organization?
It was about this time in the presentation that it was revealed that a new tab had been added to the "Configurable" Big Picture. It is the 'Overview' tab:
This is it! A more simplistic view that shows at a high level how SAFe puts the customer in the center and the various benefits it offers at a high level. And just like the Big Picture view, this is not just an image. This page is interactive which allows the user to click on any icon to drill into more details.
At this point in time, SAFe 5.0 is still in Preview mode. However, anyone can access it from this link: https://v5preview.scaledagileframework.com/# I encourage you to click around and learn!!
It was stated that SAFe 5.0 will move to a "Production" state in January.
As I write this article, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised about this addition of Business Agility. One of the activities that all attendees completed at this SAFe Summit last year (2018) was create a backlog of features or enhancements that could be made to the framework. It was pretty unanimous that Business Agility was a gap. I tip my hat to Scaled Agile; they listened to their customers and responded. I look forward to leveraging some of these new tools found within the drawer of the Business Agility toolbox to assist executives in identifying THEIR customers, what products, services or features they need and how to quickly provide that value while at the same time helping them to build a learning organization that focuses on relentless improvement and an innovative culture.
SAFe has now scaled to the C Suite!
You may also find this article of value; What's New in SAFe 5.0
Note: You may find this book helpful:
If you have Google Assistant (Google Home, Google Mini or Google Hub) simply say "Talk to SAFe FAQ".
Google will connect to the SAFe FAQ database and ask how to help.
Now simply ask a question like; "What is an iteration?", "What is a Roadmap?", or "What is a System Demo?"
Google will then comb through the latest version of the SAFe Glossary - Scaled Agile Framework Terms and Definitions to find the definition.
For the best experience, it is recommended that you work with the Google Assistant App on your phone or Google Hub so that you can read the term as well as hear the words.
Note: You may find this helpful:
MS Project: I know the Go Live date. When should my project start?
You know when your Go Live date should be. The question is; when should your project start?
The following solution demonstrates how Microsoft Project can provide that answer in 2 steps.
This article assumes that you already have a Microsoft Project schedule that has been developed following scheduling best practices. This solution works great when using a Microsoft Project schedule template or when you have recurring projects that follow the exact same tasks.
We will work with this Wine Tasting Fundraiser project.
Before we begin the 2-Step process, we must create two custom fields; "Deadline Variance Calculator" and "Target Go Live Date".
Create the Deadline Variance Calculator field
1.1 Right click on Predecessor and insert the column Duration2
1.2 Right click on Duration2 column heading and click on Custom Fields
1.3 Click on Rename and input "Duration Variance Calculator", then click on OK
1.4 Click on Formula and input the following formula:
1.5 Click on >Ok and >OK again.
1.6 Right click on the column heading and click on Hide
Create the Target Go Live Date field
1.7 Right click on the Predecessor column and click on Insert Column.
1.8 Select Text1
1.9 Right click on Text1 and click on >Custom Fields
1.10 Click on Rename and input "Targeted Go Live Date", then click on OK
1.11 Click on Formula and input this formula;
1.12 Click on >Ok and >Ok
1.13 As a last step, right click on the Target Go Live Date column and insert the column called Deadline
1.14 The view should now show both the Deadline and Target Go Live Date columns
You can see in the schedule above that this project has over 125 rows. It has been developed using Microsoft Project scheduling best practices and the Go Live Milestone is currently at Thur 4/5/18. You can see that there are a number of tasks that are planned to occur AFTER Go Live and the overall Project Finish date is currently at Wed 4/25/18.
But let's say it is 2019 and we want to Go Live on Thur 8/29/2019.
2. Here is the 2-step process to get to the new start date:
2.1 Step 1 – Input the known date for when the project needs to complete into the Deadline field.
Notice that the Targeted Start Date field automatically populated. Take note of this date.
2.2 Step 2 – Input Project Start Date
Click on >Project, >Project Information and input the Start date of 6/13/2019 (this was the Targeted Start Date)
Click on OK
Notice the Change Highlighting feature turned the background of many cells to blue. Note that all dates in your project schedule just changed. The new Go Live Milestone date is now Thur 8/29/19 just as desired. Since the Milestone Finish date is equal to the Deadline date, the Targeted Start Date now displays as blank. All tasks after Go Live also moved out and the overall Project Finish date is now Wed 9/18/19.
Finally, this example used a Go Live date somewhere in the middle of the schedule. As opposed to trying to use the "Schedule From Finish" option in Microsoft Project, I could easily created a Project Complete Milestone and applied the Deadline there. The solution would have worked just as well.
PMP: Hey Google....Talk to PMP Exam Prep
If you have Google Assistant (Google Home, Google Mini or Google Hub) simply say "Talk to PMP Exam Prep".
Google will then give you the definition of a project management term. You simply respond with the correct term. If you get the term right, Google will let you know and move on to the next definition. If you miss the term, Google will give you a second opportunity to answer. If you provide the incorrect term a second time, Google will give you the correct answer and then provide you with the next term.
You will get three questions per round. Google will keep track of how many you get right. Google will then ask you if you would like to play another round.
The terms are randomly pulled from a database containing all 470 project management terms located in the PMBOK® Glossary (Sixth Edition 2017). See the searchable database online from here
If you are studying for the PMP® exam, you can use this Google PMP Exam Prep Application like flashcards to help you memorize the definitions.
For the best experience, it is recommended that you work with the Google Assistant App or Google Hub so that you can read the term as well as hear the words. If you say "Repeat the question", Google will read the definition again.
Note: You may find this helpful:
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Microsoft Teams is a unified communications platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage (including collaboration on files), and application integration.
Teams is built on Office 365 groups, Office Graph, and the same enterprise-level security, compliance, and manageability as the rest of Office 365.
When you create a team, here's what gets created:
- A new Office 365 group
- A SharePoint Online site and document library to store team files
- An Exchange Online shared mailbox and calendar
- A OneNote notebook
- Ties into other Office 365 apps such as Planner and Power BI
Teams can be customized by adding apps, bots, and connectors.
You can also include people from outside your organization by adding them as a guest to a team or channel.
Note: You may find this item helpful:
There is a field (column) within Microsoft Project called Deadline. It is tightly integrated into the tool and performs multiple functions. One of the biggest benefits of this field is that it will allow Microsoft Project to notify you when a Finish date slips past its Deadline date. Let's demonstrate:
In the Wine Tasting Fundraising project below, you will see a Project Complete Milestone at the end of the schedule (Row 137). Notice that this Milestone has 0 days Duration and appears as a black diamond in the bar chart portion of the Gantt Chart view on the right. Friday 4/6/18 is the planned Finish date for this project. You will notice that the Deadline column has been added to this view and it currently displays NA for the Project Complete Milestone.
Let's assume that our project team and all stakeholders agree that this project schedule is realistic and achievable. With that consensus in place, copy the Finish date for the Project Complete Milestone and paste it into the Deadline field.
In the picture above it appears as if the black diamond changed to a green arrow. The truth is; the arrow is actually laying on top of the diamond. The diamond is still there, we just can't see it.
As the project moves forward in real life, the project schedule should be updated to stay in line with reality. After making an update to a task within the Planning phase of this project, all of a sudden a Red diamond with an exclamation point appeared in the Indicator column on the left. This is Projects way of screaming at you; "You have a problem!"
If you hover over that red diamond, you will see that it says "This task goes past its deadline". If you look at the bar chart you will see that the black diamond has now pushed out to the right of the green arrow.
With a little further investigation, we can see that the current Finish date for the Project Complete Milestone is now Thu 4/12/18 and the Deadline date is Fr 4/6/18. The moral of this story is that if you continue to follow this project schedule as it currently stands, you are going to miss the agreed upon Project Complete Finish date.
As the project manager responsible for completing this project on time, the next objective should be to get this project on track. But the question at this point is; how far are we off track? In other words, what is difference between the current Finish and our Deadline Finish? How may calendar/ working days are we off track? There are a number of fields in Microsoft Project that automatically calculate the variance between two fields. But here is the problem; there is NOT a Deadline Variance field. The good news is; we can create a Deadline Variance field. Here are those steps:
Insert Duration1 column
Right click on the Duration1 column heading and click on Custom Fields
Click on Rename, input Deadline Variance and click on OK
Click on Formula and input this formula: IIf([Deadline]=4294967295,0,(ProjDateDiff([Deadline],[Finish]))) Then click on OK
The following dialogue box will appear letting you know that any existing data in this field will be deleted. Simply click on OK.
We can now see that our project has slipped by 4 days.
As a good project manager your next step should be to work with the team to determine how to reduce the Duration of the critical path by 4 days in order to get the project back on track.
This is "Module 5 Create Applet in IFTTT", which is part of a series on "Create Tasks in Microsoft Project using Google Assistant".
12. Visit https://ifttt.com (If This Then That) and create an account
13. When asked to choose at least three services, select Google Assistant, Wunderlist and Trello
14. Click on the dropdown arrow to the right of your user name and click on New Applet
15. Click the "+this"
16. In Step 1, search for Assistant and click on Google Assistant
17. The Choose trigger step will appear. For Step 2, click on "Say a phrase with a text ingredient"
18. Within the question for "What do you want to say", input 'add $ to my project'. Within the question for "What do you want the Assistant to say in response?', input 'Ok, adding task'.
19. Then click on Create Trigger
20. Click on the "+that"
21. In Step 3 Choose action service, type trello, then click on Trello
22. Step 4, click on Create a card
22. Within Which Board? Click on the dropdown and select the name of your Trello board (the one with no spaces). For List name, input Inbox
23. For Position, select Top of List. For Title, click on Add Ingredient and select TextField.
24. Click on Create action
25. As a last step, you can change the name of your Applet if you like.
26. Click on Save.
See next article: Module 6 Create Workflow in Microsoft Flow
Note: You may find this helpful:
What is your role?
- Scrum Master
- Project Manager
- Program Manager
- Release Train Engineer
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