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View the latest inspiring and positive news and information about what's going on in the PM and IT world.

Date: 22/02/2022
At a time of unprecedented change, organisations are challenged by an extraordinary pace of technological innovation. Agile product delivery is needed, but is not enough anymore. Companies need business agility. This means that all departments need to use Lean and Agile practices to continually and proactively deliver innovative business solutions in a fast and efficient way. SAFe®, an enterprise framework for scaling agile, has the guidance to help organisations get there. It is an agility framework at scale, which means that instead of having an agile team it will imply an agile transformation for the complete organisation.

Leading SAFe

QRP International is now a Scaled Agile Bronze Transformation Partner. We offer the Leading SAFe training, which prepares for the SAFe 5 Agilist certification.

The Leading SAFe course enables attendees to lead a Lean-Agile enterprise successfully into the adoption of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). After an introduction to SAFe, the training provides the best practises and methods to drive your Lean-Agile transformation.

Thanks to SAFe 5.0, your organisation can become the Agile business it needs to be and win in the digital age.

Why could SAFe be the best choice for you?

If you want to become a lean-agile leader, SAFe could be the best solution for you. The framework is well suited to complex projects with many teams involved. Some of the benefits of the framework:
  • It guarantees the technical agility of teams
  • It makes it easier to drive and support organisational change
  • It leverages the benefits of Agile, Scrum, Lean, DevOps and Kanban
  • It can support you in managing your projects with a higher degree of agility, thus providing stakeholders with faster feedback
  • The SAFe certification is recognized worldwide
Want to know more? Visit our page: SAFe certification For any further questions you can contact us directly here: switzerland@qrpinternational.com
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Date: 15/11/2021
Take advantage of -30% on your favorite courses! Discount valid from the 15th till the 30th of November 2021. As every year, Black Friday takes place around the world the day after American Thanksgiving: in 2021, it is therefore Friday, November 26 that this great day of promotions falls. This year has been difficult enough for everyone and we have decided to take the opportunity to offer you a 30% reduction on some of our training courses.

Virtual classroom

E-learning

97% of decision makers and 84% of individuals said obtaining certification had a positive impact, improving efficiency and employee satisfaction, so what are you waiting for? It is time to have some fun and end 2021 on a high note!
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Date: 21/07/2021
In this article Fabio Mora, Software Engineer, Agile Coach, DevOps expert and author, delves into some more practical and technical aspects of the Site Reliability Engineer profession and some fundamental concepts, in particular, that of reliability.  

Reliability

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) means working on the most important functionality of a system: reliability, a “feature” that precedes any other. To illustrate its importance, imagine that you need to use a service whose operation is based, in whole or in part, on computer systems, electronics, telco and other related industries. Take any online service, reliability is critical. If the assistant who wakes you up in the morning and streams your favourite radio station might not be essential, the smartphone that allows you to interact with relatives and friends, manage documents and appointments, definitely is critical for the quality of your daily life. If your smartphone is “not available” and the apps like your bank account, Google, social networks, and Wikipedia do not work, some problems with your routine could loom. With various nuances of criticality, these are – under the hood – very sophisticated platforms that interact and work with each other, self-balance and often consist of millions or billions of lines of code and hardware devices. The functionalities all devices and apps offer to correspond to possibilities in the real world. The idea, therefore, is that they should be kept efficient and responsive for those who use them, with a quality of service that lives up to the needs. This is called reliability.  

The immensity of the system

To illustrate, if downloading a file from your Drive may appear to be a simple gesture, behind it lies an endless chain of events: from the mobile radio network, the data flow travels encapsulated, encrypted, in an optical fibre, through transoceanic cables that carry it within milliseconds to a remote datacenter, and back. In turn, there are data links that allow these infrastructures to communicate with each other, provide network services, hardware, but also energy and gas on the network – even further upstream. From POS to pay in-store, to ticketing services, to the railway, motorway, aeronautical and civil signalling networks, to remote surgery, to medical diagnoses in the cloud. But also the logistics of each package delivered by courier, the work of the “riders”, the heat trails of food and drug transport. All of these are pivotal platforms for entire sectors and for the quality of personal life: industry, communication, education, marketing, media, health, public administration, democratic processes – almost the entire service sector – and beyond.  

Possible drawbacks

There are many things that can go wrong.
  1. First, systems become inherently unstable over time. Due to their incredible complexity, they tend to break down and it is necessary to work continuously so that this does not happen. The work activities on the systems and their updating must not be carried out only when «accidents», or events of an exceptional nature, occur, they must be part of business as usual. As business as usual, the activities can prevent inertia, obsolescence and technical debt.
  2. The latter are all daemons that threaten not only the quality of the services but also the possibility of continuing to introduce changes in them. The SREs is to keep the systems stable and that of the programmers is to write and maintain the functionalities. of products, with continuous software releases. Each release, therefore, could introduce new errors, and complexity.
 

Value of SRE

Reliability is the upstream feature of any system. However, it is also a difficult feature to communicate because, when it is present, it can easily be taken for granted. It is also difficult to always give the right importance to this theme. To correct this small cognitive bias, the roles and organizational structures of the SREs are often autonomous with respect to the Software Engineers, who instead build the products. The value attributed to the SRE, therefore, is to keep these products stable on systems; error-free, maintainable, usable for the user – no matter what is happening. The value that an SRE offers to its organisation and to the users of its products is, ultimately, that of guaranteeing the stability of production systems, the maintainability of the software and a high-quality level of service. All this regardless of external conditions, be it traffic peaks or continuous releases of new features.  

Fabio Mora

trainer SRE

Fabio Mora is a freelance programmer and Agile coach enthusiastic about Extreme Programming and Linux. Passionate about open source, economics and everything related to mathematics and data science, he first founded a web agency and then worked in eBay as a software engineer. He loves music, sound engineering and scientific dissemination.

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Date: 14/07/2021
Change Management courses exist to support the organizational change to make sure that employees are guided through their change journey. Organizational change refers to the actions in which an organisation alters one of its major components, like the used technologies, infrastructure, internal processes or internal culture. Organizational change is a direct response to an internal or external change in the organisation. Internal changes can be:
  • New leadership,
  • A new team structure,
  • The implementation of new technology,
  • Fast growth,
  • The adaption of a different business model.
As we have experienced in the last year, an external factor can be
  • A global pandemic,
  • Changes in the business environment,
  • A new competitive environment,
  • Political changes.
Whether derived from internally or externally changes, any organisation comes at a point where organizational change is inevitable for the organisation to remain viable and scalable. Organizational change is often a very sensitive transformation as it is often conceived as something intimidating for those impacted by the change. In order to make the transition as delicate as possible, a Change Manager is appointed that has a strong knowledge of Change Management. This person can follow different courses and can get different certifications. Two common certifications are ‘Change Management’ and ‘Agile Change Agent’, two completely different approaches that both fit different situations. One is not better than the other, it depends on the organisation and the specific transition.  

Change Management by APMG

As the name suggests, APMG’s Change Management deals with managing change and its impact. It provides an overview of the theories within Change Management and can be seen as a collection of knowledge and best practices. The methodology provides an extensive insight at all the different stages of change and provides a structured approach for supporting individuals and teams to move from a current to a future state. The key takeaway from this methodology is that change is not a single event, it is a process. To follow structural change there is a need for clarity to connect business strategy to action and its main factor for success is proper communication with all stakeholders. Mastery, purpose and autonomy can help raise change engagement. This certification can aid Change Managers in the following situations;
  • Traditional waterfall organisations,
  • Transformational changes,
  • Organisations with a strong top-down approach,
  • Long-lasting and evident-based results.
 

Agile Change Agent by APMG

The Agile Change Agent is a hands-on course that supports the ideas of collaboration, empowerment and self-direction that are core to Agile approaches. These ideas are also at the heart of effective change management. Unless people participate in designing, practising and adopting the change for themselves, the change does not happen and benefits cannot be realized. The methodology defines different ‘change agents’, these can be managers or employees, or external consultants hired to facilitate change initiatives. A change agent is someone who has a (temporary) job within the organisation and next to his/her daily work facilitates change. The methodology and its course are full of exercises and practical tools, tips and advice. The course focuses less on the theories of change and is more methodological. This certification can aid Change Managers, and others, in the following situations;
  • Agile organisations,
  • Adaptive changes,
  • Organisations with a strong bottom-up approach,
  • Fast, person-driven results.
 

How do these courses & certifications compare?

The APMG Change Management program provides a structured approach for supporting individuals and teams to move from a current to a future state. The course equips participants with the theory, tools and techniques to contribute effectively to planning, implementing and sustaining change. The APMG Agile Change Agent certification includes a simple, repeatable lifecycle model which acts as the structure of any change plan. The course provides questionnaires and checklists to help create the culture for effective change. QRP Switzerland offers both the APMG Change Management course and the APMG Agile Change Agent course. Do you have more questions about the differences between the different Change Management approaches? You can contact us and we will be happy to support you with more information, customized to your needs.
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Date: 07/07/2021
Smals is the joint ICT organisation of Belgium’s public social security institutions. It realizes innovative ICT projects and services in the line of work, family and health for social security and healthcare institutions and offers them a wide range of ICT services. ICT for society is not just a slogan for Smals; Smals participates in pioneering work in e-government and e-health in Belgium and is an important factor in the digital transformation of social security and healthcare. They are also active in the development of the G-Cloud, the Belgian government cloud. To hear how they apply the AgilePM methodology, QRP interviewed Karine Picart.  

What is your role at Smals?

I am responsible for the SharePoint Competence Centre at Smals, the joint ICT organisation of Belgium’s public social security institutions. I am a project manager in charge of the SharePoint projects that are entrusted to us by our members.  

How did you hear about AgilePM and what was your initial need?

AgilePM training is part of our training catalogue. I was looking for an agile method and I knew that the Scrum approach – which is also used at Smals – is primarily designed for software development teams. We had previously tried to implement this approach on SharePoint projects but it had not been convincing. I was looking for a more global approach that also integrates project management, which would allow us to better involve the business representatives in our projects to ensure we are working on the things that mattered.  

Shortly after AgilePM training you successfully applied it to key projects. Can you explain the background of the projects?

The first project on which we applied the AgilePM approach concerned a Belgian social security institution that wanted to renew two applications, which previously existed in Lotus Notes, into SharePoint applications. These were two large pilot projects (a request management application and an internal communication portal) which would also allow them to develop their SharePoint and project management skills. We implemented the AgilePM approach and it went very well; we were very satisfied for many reasons. Following my training, I trained one of my colleagues to act as an architect/developer/technical coach to the customer. The aim was to ensure that the approach to the projects was well understood on the customer side and to encourage maximum engagement. We briefed our business (business ambassador) and technical (developers) contacts at the same kick-off for both projects. I explained the method, the roles and responsibilities of each, and how it would work. At the end of the kick-off we gave the business the task of creating a first version of the backlog by describing their requirements and prioritizing them according to the MoSCoW prioritization technique (Must have, Should have, Could have, Won’t have this time). The challenge was to designate 60% of the total project effort as must-haves, which can be difficult (often we get 70 or even 80% of requirements as must-haves in the first round).  

What were your constraints and challenges?

The first challenge was that of coaching, as part of the team was not my usual team. The second challenge was to make sure that the whole project team followed the rules, the vision and the issues. One of the developers who were very good technically was, for example, not convinced by the AgilePM approach; he was a bit sceptical at first. But he finally played the game and was able to see the logic of the approach and that relations with the business went very well. The clients also appreciated working in an agile way thanks to AgilePM, which allows the business to be much more involved in the project and in day-to-day decisions. It is not unusual for the business to think something is simple, but being involved makes them better understand the task and associated challenges. Conversely, the developers have a better understanding of the underlying needs. The AgilePM approach allows for a transparent dialogue and the right choices to be made, without the development teams getting hung up on things that are not so important to the client/business. The clients expected the project to progress (and results materialize) quickly without setting a deadline (which can be a trap as it can take much longer than necessary). However, we managed to deliver quickly and within three months we were ready to go live. There were some network performance issues that prevented us from going live as planned, but we were ready. We simply preferred to wait and solve the network problem rather than deliver a tool that would have been perceived as underperforming, even if the cause was external to the tool.  

How did you implement AgilePM?

After the coaching and kick-off, we set up sprint review/sprint planning meetings every fortnight for each of the projects, which meant that one project would be dealt with one week and the other the next, and so on. One of the two business ambassadors would automatically attend the other’s meetings to ensure consistency in decisions, as we were working on the same technical platform. Every day there was also a 15-minute stand-up meeting involving the project team (business and technical contacts). We organized a monthly one-hour project board and that was enough to follow the progress of the project. It is important not to go into too much functional or technical detail during the project boards, but to stay focused on the project monitoring. Once this monitoring structure was in place, the project almost ran itself! At the end of the project, we carried out a remote lessons-learned exercise and the feedback from the client was that, in the beginning, they did not necessarily understand what had been explained during the kick-off, nor why we were asking for certain things. However, as time went on everything became clearer, they understood why and the reason for the intensity of the efforts. For a future project, we will pay more attention to this dimension. The client was also unaware at the beginning of the effort that it would require on their side. Being a business ambassador is almost a full-time job and it’s important that they are given the time to carry out this important role. There are various meetings to attend and you also have to be ready to address questions and concerns from the development team on a daily basis, participate in tests, etc. How did the AgilePM approach help you? Was there a particular element that was most useful to you? The most useful in my opinion is the MoSCoW prioritisation technique. There is a big difference between ranking the requirements in an order (1-2-3-4-5) and accepting that a requirement that you consider important is only a “should-have” that may never be implemented because other requirements come first. Continuous prioritisation is probably THE most useful aspect. Of course, this is not the only point, the whole framework is useful.  

Do you have any advice for fellow project professionals in the sector?

You have to get trained. I recommend taking a training course with an expert and not just watching, reading the book and picking up elements according to what speaks to you. I took a training course in a small group and it allowed me to understand the method, to have templates and to ask my questions. Personally, without the training, I would never have read the whole manual and I would have missed key benefits of the method.  

A few words to conclude?

Recently I also attended a DevOps course and I can see that the two fit together well as the philosophy and culture are similar.   → Curious to read another AgilePM success story? Read on how FLIR implemented the AgilePM methodology in their daily work.  

Karine Picart

agile pm Karine Picar Karine is Project Leader & Team Leader at Smals. She is a specialist in collaborative tools and is responsible for the Smals SharePoint competence centre.
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Date: 30/06/2021
Change agents can be managers or employees, or external consultants hired to facilitate change initiatives. Of course, internal change agents have the advantage of being familiar with an organisation’s history, operations, and people, while external change agents can provide a fresh perspective without the influence of a firm’s traditions and culture. → Behavioural change: what is it and why is it important? Read our post on How to plan an Agile Change initiative to know more!  

What are the types of change agent?

When an organisation wants to make a change happens there are 2 perspectives it should be interested in:
  • everybody who has a role in running the business,
  • everybody who is in a project or change management role.

Everybody who has a role in running the business

All the people who are providing the services and the products that ultimately the customer buy from the organisation. In the first group, we have all the staff impacted by the change, whose priorities are using the existing ways of working to satisfy current customer demand and getting the job done. On top of that, when a change occurs, they need to change how they work. Plus, they need to mobilize their colleagues and themselves to participate in the change and, finally, integrate the change into current ways of working. That is exactly the definition of a change agent: somebody having a job in an organisation and next to that job he/she facilitates change. This means a Change Agent can have a role in HR, Finance, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Administration etc.

Everybody who is in a project or change management role

Their role is about changing the business. In the second group, we have project and change teams, whose priorities are introducing new ideas, innovation and new ways of working, identifying activities and tasks and creating plans to implement change. Plus, they can guide those who are selected as “change agents” to perform their roles. The change agent network is becoming incredibly popular within organisations. People may not be called change agents but the point is that, on top of their daily job, they have the role to help make change happen and integrate changes into the current ways of working.  

What does a change agent do?

  • Flexibility (and of course being open to change!).
  • Effective Listening Skills.
  • Influence and negotiation.
  • Analytical skills.
  • Relationship management.
  • Strategic thinking.
  • Relationship Orientation.
  • Able to prioritize.
  • Patience and persistence.
  • Deep understanding of the business and business culture.
 

Why is a Change Agent Important?

We know by heart that change is present in any organisation of any size. But in this world of very fast-moving change, we can talk about “agile change”. Since it is not a good idea to try and plan every single change detail upfront, we need to adopt change in an Agile way. That was the idea that Melanie Franklin, thought leader in change management, transformed into an approach for managing transformational change initiatives mainly using the ideas from the agile methodologies. Organisations can benefit from an agile approach to change in order to plan and manage all the activities that are needed to design and deliver changes. And to make changes successful, from both perspectives. If you are doing the day job, change is probably irritating because it gets in the way of you using your existing habits, your existing sort of skills and techniques to get things done really quickly. It slows you down because you have to think through a new way of working whereas everybody on the other side thinks change is great. An Agile Change Agent works to bring these groups of people together, drawing attention both on the project/change activities as well as on the behavioural change of the team. And an Agile Change approach can offer your organisation a structure to plan the elements of your Agile changes. The Agile Change Agent course & certification is designed to build practical ability in Agile and Change to support effective transformation and change initiatives. Visit our website to learn more! SOURCE: APMG; Free Taster Session of Agile Change Agent
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