What is the difference between a Project Manager and a Scrum Master?

I searched the internet before writing this post and did find a lot of articles and discussions on the differences between a project manager and a scrum master. There are of course some key differences and some people would argue that the roles are completely different. However in the working world these  roles will at times, have merged and their has been cross over between the two roles. I believe myself one of the key elements to delivering success is not to work to a rigid structure and adjust according to what works best with the team and people working in the project. –  Just get a scrum on 🙂

Scrum Master:

It has been recommended in Agile Scrum that the scrum master should work for the team and remove all the impediments of the team. The scrum master is like a mentor and coach for the team. Driving them forward and creating the best possible working environment. 

Project Manager:

Although the project manager may also fill the roles as above. The role is more expected to be one that makes decisions on their own and will responsibilities such as project planning, monitoring, budget control and managing the project.

The following information below was written by Steve Hunton on the Scrum alliance website

Traditionally, the project manager is a leader, a decision maker, a planner, someone who manages the project and the team and is the person accountable to the business for accomplishing the project objectives. The ScrumMaster’s role is more that of coach and facilitator, a role that sits between the project and the customer. The ScrumMaster doesn’t manage the team that produces the work; instead, he supports the product owner, coaches the team, and makes sure that Scrum processes are adhered to. The ScrumMaster is responsible for the Scrum process, its correct and continuous implementation, and the maximization of its benefits.

The Video below from 352 Inc – also gives a good overview of the differences between the Scrum Master and Project Manager.

Agile Iowa No Estimates Puzzle Experiment

Very interesting game for looking at and discussing how estimation may not be necessary to make great software. Also see this link here for more info

Cecil G. Williams

cecil-presenting-agile-iowa-puzzleI facilitated my own rendition of the #NoEstimates Puzzle Experiment for the September 2013 Agile Iowa user group meeting. This experiment was created by Chris Chapman to generate critical thinking and conversation concerning whether estimates are necessary to produce quality software. The meeting had a great turnout, with around 40 people attending during a Midwest thunderstorm that left over 20,000 people without power.

Setup

SmallRavensburgerPuzzleThe experiment calls for two teams to build the same puzzle, with one team using a lean approach and the other team using scrum. For the puzzle I chose a Ravensburger 500 large piece format No. 149483. I encouraged the attendees to self-organize into two teams of six members. Both teams were made up of novice and experienced agilists.  While the teams worked on the puzzles the remaining attendees mingled and observed the teams’ progress.  I kept track of the time and coached both teams as…

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Budgeting Management Part 2 (Budgeting example)

Budgeting Management Part 2: (This is a high level example of budgeting) I could add a lot more detail, but this post will get to long!

Budget Example:

A firm is approached by a music festival that wants to create an a mobile app for the festival. This app should cover all the main mobile platforms. This includes iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry.

They (the music festival) have a budget of £20,000 to do this.

The first and most important thing is that the scope is clearly defined. This will mean sitting down with the client (music festival) in a meeting or several, to discuss what they require. Requirements come in all shapes and sizes, but for a mobile app you want to define certain key things.

  1. What mobile platforms should it operate on?
  2. What date does it have to be delivered by?
  3. Is there an example of another similar app?
  4. What will the content of the app be? A list of key requirements. This will also require a design mock-up of what the app will look like and also what the various sections or areas of the app will cover and look like. Some wire frames (how the sections, pages, areas of the app fit together. Also a wire frame may be required of how one page or section works). This will probably change in some shape or form during the build of the app.
  5. A technical specification may also be required. This is a plain language document describing how the app will work and detailing how all the sections and pages will fit together.
  6. Copy. This is written content of the app. This includes the main written content. Any articles, information, notices, FAQs etc.
  7. Terms and Conditions. These are the terms for using the app.

The requirements are defined and the client wants a relatively straight forward app to be created. This will entail some videos, photos, some information and history about the event and some contact details for further information. It will also contain redirects and details of where and how to buy tickets for the music festival. Also the client would like a twitter feed built into the app so any twits about the festival show up in the feed.

Initially the client wanted the app on all mobile platforms. But after discussing this with the client and the extra costs and possibly low take up on some of the platforms. The client agrees to an app for only iOS and Android.

There would be two different ways to build this app. One would be an native app and the other would be a web (html5) app. Some thought is given to this, but it is decided to create a web app. Web apps are created using HMTL 5. Creating a web app should make it easier to use across the mobile platforms. It won’t require creating two apps using the developer kits for the various mobile operating systems which would be the case if creating a native app.

The client already has their own youtube channel so videos from the site can be used with the app. A photo gallery is also created using photos provided by the client who can provide these free of charge.

Because the app will be given away for free and they will be no in app purchases or subscriptions. It will be far easier getting it past the Apple guidelines and placing on the iOS store. Android apps can be directly loaded to the Google play store with no clearance process.

The project manager speaks to an in house developer who knows how to develop web apps and has done both for Andriod and iOS. However he is busy with two of the other in house developers at the moment and cannot take on this development himself full time. As the client wants a quick as possible turn around. It is agreed an developer should be brought in for 3 weeks to do the bulk of the work. The in house developer knows a really good developer who also knows some of the technical aspects of the build that he is not familiar with. This developer is free for the work and at £400 a day it is quite a good price for a developer!

An in house account manager, the project manager, project assistant and in house accountant will make up the rest of the team and as they are internal and paid monthly. They will not add to the cost of the project. However as salaries do have to paid the in house costs are charged at a 30% fee of the overall budget and this costs £6000 (In this price all costs will be covered and this also includes any contingency costs). This also includes an account manager who will provide a post launch service to the client.  Agreement is made with the client that an overall charge of £17,400 will be made. Coming £2600 under budget.

Break Down of Costs:

Company Charge: £6000

Developer: £400 X 21 Days = £8400

Designer: £300 X 5 days = £1500

QA Tester: £300 X 5 days = £1500

Itunes App Store: $99 and 30% cut of each download.  (This app will be given away for free so not cut is applicable).

The iOS Developer kit – allowing you to develop and distribute apps in the iTunes App Store – costs $99/year.

Google Play (Andriod Store): Pay a $25 registration fee. (This is a one-time fee required for all developers, even if you are publishing a free app. You can pay using credit card or Google Checkout).

Google takes 30% of the revenues of paid apps for“carriers and billing settlement fees”. The same as Apple.

Photos and Video: Free of charge. Provided by client.

Copy: (The blurb i.e. information, articles anything in written form) Free of charge. Provided by client.

Overall Cost: £17,400

There is an contingency cost agree with the boss, from the £6000 of about £3000. (Note: In some budgeting risk and issue budgets may also be required).

Looking at the costs above. Any delays or increases to the number of days the contractors work for could seriously increase the costs. Tight management and communication will be required to make sure the budget does not go over costs. As at the scoping stage of the project it was identified that this was a relatively straight forward app to build. No major risks are logged. However all risks, issues, progress and general monitoring of the project must be closely maintained to keep the budget on track,

Think of some other risks that could affect the budget. A change in project scope. Delays in the work. Issues with integrating with 3rd party systems such as twitter or youtube. All this must be taken into account. From this simple example it can show that budget management can be quite complex, Being affected by multiple variables.

Budget Management Part 1

This posting is part one of several posts in relation to budgeting:

On the face of it budgeting seems like a straight forward process. Set out the requirements and fund what is necessary to get a job done, product delivered or service created. But budgeting can be problematic and challenging. One of the biggest risks affecting budget management is simply one of going over budget.*

When working on a project, a budget should be approached with scope and requirements clearly defined. A great example would be when booking a holiday. You decide on a set budget you want to spend. For example this may be £700. This includes everything. The flights, the hotel/accommodation, food and dining, sightseeing, travel (taxi’s etc), miscellaneous costs. With this budget in mind, you set out what will be possible for you and book your holiday accordingly. It may not be the most glamorous holiday on this budget, but that is the compromise you would have to make. (On a side note to this a general rule that complexity theory or the adventure of life can through at you. Is that with good budgeting and research you could possibly land a glamorous holiday! This is life).

Managing a project budget can take a very similar approach. Developing new software, creating a website, building a bridge, all projects such as these will require money and the money used to deliver them must be budgeted for in the project. The finance may come from a client or investor or it may come internally from the firm you are working at.

One thing that is key for successful budget management is to have clearly scoped out requirements for what is to be delivered. Clearly defining scope and requirements will help successful budget management and delivery of the project.

As a high level example, a client/customer may come to a firm and say they have £10,000 to spend on the creation of a website. The sales person hands the project to the project manger. Unhelpfully the sales person has done what sales people do and said on this budget all types of wonderful things can be delivered. The project manger looks at the budget and the requirements and is not quite so optimistic. The first thing the project manager should really do is talk to the client/customer and really get the specific requirements down in writing. Ideally the client should also give some examples of what they are looking for. With these details the project manager can set out and look at what can be delivered. (The project manager may need to have discussions with web developers, programmers, accountants, account managers and any other key personnel when working out the costing for the project). Once this has been done the project can be initiated. (Note: The project manager should have another person check the costings for quality assurance. The project manager will not always be involved in the budgeting of a project and may just work on delivery. Before a project is initiated some money may have to be spent on scoping out the requirements. Creating mock ups of the website, wireframes. technical specs etc… May have to be created before the project begins. This would be part of an initial startup budget and may mean that money is spent without a project even being launched.)

Key elements to successful budget Management:

  • Build in a contingency cost. (This could be as much as 30% of the budget). A contingency budget is very important, If the project goes over budget this could save a lot of extra cost.
  • Have more than 1 person looking after the budget. Even if this just means weekly or monthly reviews with at least 1 other person. Ideally several other people.
  • Have more than 1 person creating the budget if possible.
  • Closely monitor and track the budget.
  • Have regular progress checks. Even if these are just weekly or daily meetings.
  • Monitor issues and risks.
  • Forecast costs. Future costs in the project must be accounted for in the budget.

Different ways a budget may be funded:

  • Funded internally. A project could be funded internally by a firm / bank or government that wishes to make its own product, provide a service, etc…
  • Funded externally. A client comes to a supplier or firm and asks for a product, service to be produced.
  • RFP (Request for proposal) or Quote. A client may come to a supplier and ask for them to put forward a proposal / quote for a project.
  • Funded by an individual. This could be a rich investor or someone who has links to rich investors.
  • Fund raising campaigns. Often done by charities.
  • Group funding. Such as those ran by kickstarter.

Notes:

When using an Agile Project Management approach such as Scrum. Some of the pressures and difficulties of budget management can be reduced or eliminated. For a product backlog would have been created and only in the first release would a selection of the key elements or realistic elements would be delivered as opposed to delivering the whole thing! Although this may not always be the case and using Scrum may not help your budgeting at all! Also in some projects you have to deliver the whole thing. Such as a bridge!

* There are risks with coming under budget. There have been numerous stories of councils or government agencies spending all their budget when they don’t need to. In fear that if they don’t their budget will get cut. This may not relate specifically to a single project. But is an issue that can be caused by under spending and a some what controversial one.

Bannerfans

BannerFans.com

I found a really simple on-line software application bannerfans that makes banners. It is no Photoshop, but can be used to create a simple banner for your website / web page. To get the image above, I created a banner in the site and then once completed, the site gave me the option to insert the provided html code into a website or blog. (For your info – BannerFans uses imageshack to store the created images/banners). (The image used of the various famous buildings of London I purchased from istockphoto).

For more professional and stylish banners or banner adds. I would recommend Adobe Photoshop. Its probably the best tool for creating banners and banner adds. If you want to create an animated banner add. Then Flash is probably one of the best tools for this. There are numerous software tools for creating banner adds and another really good one is Adobe After Effects, where video compositions and animations can be saved as flash files and used on the web.