Scrumming Down to Complete Projects

Everybody knows about rugby union scrums. For our purposes, perhaps it is best to view them as mini projects where the goal is to get the ball back to the fly-half no matter what the opposition does. Some scrums are set pieces where players follow planned manoeuvres. Loose / rolling scrums develop on the fly where the team responds as best according to the situation. If that sounds to you like software project management then read on, because there are more similarities?.

Isn’t Scrum Project Management the Same as Agile?

No it’s not, because Scrum is disinterested in customer liaison or project planning, although the team members may be happy to receive the accolades following success. In the same way that rugby players let somebody else decide the rules and arrange the fixtures, a software Scrum team just wants the action.

Scrum does however align closely ? dare I say interchangeably with Agile?s sprints. Stripping it of all the other stages frees the observer up to analyse it more closely in the context of a rough and tumble project, where every morning can begin with a backlog of revised requirements to back fit.

The 3 Main Phases of a Scrum

A Scrum is a single day in the life of a project, building onto what went before and setting the stage for what will happen the following day. The desired output is a block of component software that can be tested separately and inserted later. Scrumming is also a useful technique for managing any project that can be broken into discreet phases. The construction industry is a good example.

Phase 1 – Define the Backlog. A Scrum Team?s day begins with a 15 minute planning meeting where team members agree individual to-do lists called ?backlogs?.

Phase 2 – Sprint Towards the Goal. The team separates to allow each member to complete their individual lines of code. Little or no discussion is needed as this stage.

Phase 3 – Review Meeting. At the end of each working day, the team reconvenes to walk down what has been achieved, and check the interconnected functionality.

The 3 Main Phases of a Scrum ? Conclusions and Thoughts

Scrum is a great way to liberate a competent project team from unnecessary constraints that liberate creativity. The question you need to ask yourself as manager is, are you comfortable enough to watch proceedings from the side lines without rushing onto the field to grab the ball.

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ESOS Facts on a Page

The UK?s ESOS energy saving program stands for ?Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme?. Its purpose is to reduce demand – and hence fossil-based pollution at both ends of the supply chain. It currently applies to large UK companies only. However its guidelines are also valuable input to smaller firms voluntarily going greener.

The program threshold is 250 employees and / or turnover or at least ?UK50 million. This affects approximately 9,000 UK firms, with others below the threshold wondering whether the government plans to lower it. In essence, ESOS requires that qualifying businesses complete comprehensive audits of energy use and opportunities at least every fourth year.

The plan is carrot and stick. Compliant companies will probably uncover significant savings when they stop and measure. They may even unearth carbon credits they can sometime exchange for cash. Reactionary firms who try to duck the issue will feel Her Majesty?s wrath through stiff penalties. In time, they may find it harder to attract investors. If ESOS affects your company, then the wise thing could be complying by the first deadline of 5 December 2015.

To do so, you must conduct an energy audit and report it to the UK Environment Agency. This comprises

  1. Measuring total energy use across processes, transport and facilities
  2. Pie charting 90% of this to identify areas that are energy intensive
  3. Singling out cost-effective energy-saving projects in high use areas
  4. Submitting your report to the Environment Agency ahead of the deadline

ecoVaro recommends affected companies do not leave this to the last minute. While having ISO 50001 may exempt some from ESOS, the regulations are far from straightforward and it will take months to reach complete clarification. We would like to suggest a more balanced approach.

ESOS is a wonderful incentive to save energy costs while contributing to a better future for the kids. The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is precisely that. The cost of energy has crept up on us to the extent that we have to do something, government or no government.

Measuring energy consumption is as simple as installing meters at critical points in the flow, and you probably have many of them anyway. Once you have your data you no longer have to crunch the numbers. ecoVaro can do this for you and return the result in the form of handy graphs and spreadsheets.

How to carry out an Operational Review

A mobile workforce management software is key to managing an efficient field workforce.? Managing a staff of people can be tricky in any industry. Try keeping track of employees on shifting jobsites, many whom are paid hourly or temporary workers. The added pressure of ensuring the right workers get to the right sites at the right times, but they also need to track hours, parts used, vehicles and equipment assets.

In a previous post, we defined what is an operational review and why they play a key process in the continual evolution of successful businesses.?

Operational reviews allow the organization members to evaluate their performance, according to the procedures, resources properly, timescales and budgets.

Denizon – Operational Reviews Defined

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In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how to implement an operational review and the steps typically undertaken to help you and your organisation to implement an operational review.

What the steps in a Operational Review Process

There are typically six steps in an operational review that range from preparatory work conducting interviews and collecting documents to the presentation of the final written report.

An audit should be customized to meet a organisatons specific needs, so standard steps can and should only serve as a guideline.? Management and internal and external auditors should adjust the process to address the company’s particular goals and objectives.

Initial Management Meeting

Understanding the problem is the first crucial step of an operational review. This is one of major areas of discussions when the audit team meets with the management, and department heads will be asked to identify any specific areas of concern. Once the problem is identified, it would be easier to come up with workable solutions.

Conduct Interviews

The next step in the evaluation is carried out with experienced teams doing interviews and keeping close observation. Each team essentially watches how employees carry out their responsibilities. This is considered a key part of the process.

When doing the interview, it is also vital that the observing team gains the employees? trust and confidence. Likewise, the staff must be assured that whatever transpires between the team and the employee will be kept confidential. Management must therefore guarantee anonymity to anyone who offers critical information, lest employees withhold vital information and render the data gathered inaccurate.

Systems Review

Employees and management practices will be reviewed by the assessing team according to the standard policies and guidelines of the company. The effectiveness of the controls in place as well as their appropriateness to the current operating conditions will also be evaluated.

Reporting

A documentation of the data gathered and the assessment of the evaluating team, will be submitted to the management after the review process. Flow charts and written narratives of departmental activities are usually part of this report. This is also where observations and recommendations of the team will be presented to the department heads concerned.

Review Results

While the operational review is being conducted, it is important to take into account the vital factors that affect the company: the people, processes, procedures, and strategies. These four factors can determine the company?s progress in the future.

Key Areas of focus in operation reviews

At a minimum an operational review should include the following key ares of assessment

Management Control

Responsibilities, authority, and the scope in which an employee has the freedom to act must be clearly defined and documented. A complete and specific job description for instance, would give the employee a clear perspective on how he acts and functions within the company.

Boundaries should be set not only to benefit the employer but more so the employee as well.

Moral and Ethical Guidelines

Moral and ethical guidelines are just as important to ensure for a smoother employer?employee relationship. Otherwise, personal issues such as work ethics, work attitude and personal values may post problems in the long run if such guidelines are not drawn properly before relationships are established.

Processes and procedures

Evaluating processes is only beneficial if the company itself updates its processes and procedural manuals regularly, or at least when needed. Such protocols may need revision and some steps may be obsolete already. Improving a company?s processes and procedures doesn’t always entail cost. In fact, improvised procedures may even be cost-effective and could make the processes more manageable.

Communication and reporting standards

Gaps in communication could result in serious lapses in internal controls, putting the company and/or its assets at risk. This is where the importance of timely and clear communication comes in. Likewise, reports must be useful, and the flow of information and how it is processed must keep pace with the company?s growth.

Information technology (IT) and security controls can also be included under the communication clause. Proper IT security policies must be in place, state-of-the-art protection techniques employed, and everything be documented, periodically updated, and continually monitored.

Strategic planning and tactics

No company can ever be complete without its strategies. It would unwise for any organization to proceed without first knowing where it stands and what direction it wants to take. Strategic planning draws such a map. It must be aligned to the mission and vision of the company, and should also coincide with the organizational goals set. Strategic planning deals with these three key questions:

  • What do we do now
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • How can we overcome competition

Without clear strategic direction, expectations would likely differ between ownership and management.

Contingency planning, testing and recovery

Contingency plans must be up-to-date, and are essential to the organization. If one course of action fails, the company should have plan B, C and so on. In addition, an organization should be prepared to respond to interference’s.

This includes establishing a formal process to review transactions processing during both disruption and recovery.

Presentation of Report

Based on your objectives and our findings, we will develop detailed recommendations to improve your company?s performance and productivity. Our written report will include a list of both short-term and long-term projected improvements and courses of action, to be mutually agreed upon by both parties.

To ensure the achievement of the improvements we outlined, our team will also assist in the implementation of these modifications.

The plan has three levels of recommendations: one for executives, another for management, and a third one for staff.

The executive summary concentrates on your company?s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to its entirety. It includes recommendations for any needed changes in policy or governance.

The management plan is based on employee feedback and includes areas of immediate improvement as well as identification of potential problem areas. Concerns from the bottom level management can now be forwarded to the top level management in formal writing. Better working relationships may evolve from this, thereby setting the work environment for a higher productivity ratio.

Lastly, the staff report deals with topics like charting the hierarchy of the organization, and discussing in detail specific control objectives that are critical to the company?s mission. Part of our goal is to encourage personnel to pay close attentions to such changes, if any, as these efforts are essential if they want to bring about both organizational and personal success.

If you would like to further discuss how our operational review services can benefit your company, please feel free to contact us at your convenience to schedule an initial consultation. We?ll be more than happy to assist you.

More Operational Review Blogs


Carrying out an Operational Review


Operational Reviews


Operational Efficiency Initiatives


Operational Review Defined

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  • (+44)(0)20-7193-9751 – UK
Monitoring Water Banks with Telemetrics

Longstanding droughts across South Australia are forcing farmers to rethink the moisture in the soil they once regarded as their inalienable right. Trend monitoring is an essential input to applying pesticides and fertilisers in balanced ratios. Soil moisture sensors are transmitting data to central points for onward processing on a cloud, and this is making a positive difference to agricultural output.

Peter Buss, co-founder of Sentek Technology calls ground moisture a water bank and manufactures ground sensors to interrogate it. His hometown of Adelaide is in one of the driest states in Australia. This makes monitoring soil water even more critical, if agriculture is to continue. Sentek has been helping farmers deliver optimum amounts of water since 1992.

The analogy of a water bank is interesting. Agriculturists must ?bank? water for less-than-rainy days instead of squeezing the last drop. They need a stream of online data and a safe place somewhere in the cloud to curate it. Sentek is in the lead in places as remote as Peru?s Atacamba desert and the mountains of Mongolia, where it supports sustainable floriculture, forestry, horticulture, pastures, row crops and viticulture through precise delivery of scarce water.

This relies on precision measurement using a variety of drill and drop probes with sensors fixed at 4? / 10cm increments along multiples of 12? / 30cm up to 4 times. These probe soil moisture, soil temperature and soil salinity, and are readily re-positioned to other locations as crops rotate.

Peter Buss is convinced that measurement is a means to the end and only the beginning. ?Too often, growers start watering when plants don’t really need it, wasting water, energy, and labour. By monitoring that need accurately, that water can be saved until later when the plant really needs it.? He goes on to add that the crop is the ultimate sensor, and that ?we should ask the plant what it needs?.

This takes the debate a stage further. Water wise farmers should plant water-wise crops, not try to close the stable door after the horse has bolted and dry years return. The South Australia government thinks the answer also lies in correct farm dam management. It wants farmers to build ones that allow sufficient water to bypass in order to sustain the natural environment too.

There is more to water management than squeezing the last drop. Soil moisture goes beyond measuring for profit. It is about farming sustainably using data from sensors to guide us. ecoVaro is ahead of the curve as we explore imaginative ways to exploit the data these provide for the common good of all.

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