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I have now been the Director of the Program/Project Management Solutions practice for a smaller, “boutique” consulting firm for the past 5 months. Our primary client is a Fortune 50 telecommunication company, which operates like many smaller independent companies under a corporate umbrella. Each group does things differently here. One group is entirely Agile and Scrum, another is a “hybrid” of waterfall and Agile, and yet another has no idea what they call their methodology (but they are proud to say it is “proprietary”). There’s no standardization of processes or tools either (except for Rally, which they use for user stories, and JIRA for defect tracking and management). They’ve tried centralizing and standardizing project management and development methodologies, processes, tools, and documentation under a Project Management Office, but the PMO is virtually ineffective and looks like it’s going to be disbanded soon.

It IS refreshing to see Agile and Scrum in practice already, instead of me trying to convince stakeholders about the benefits of Agile and Scrum. The challenge here, however, is that Agile and Scrum are not being implemented correctly. Many don’t seem to understand what a Product Owner or ScrumMaster is, let alone the expected responsibilities for these roles. This is further evidenced by the fact that the existing ScrumMasters are assigning tasks to the development team (instead of the development team being self-organizing and self-managing), and for some of the projects, the Product Owner is also the ScrumMaster. And the user stories in the Product Backlog have so much functionality in them that they can’t be anything less than epics. I’ve observed so many of the development teams struggling to understand the requested functionality behind these user stories, let alone breaking them down into tasks. Time to do some re-educating.

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