Category Archives: Project Management

How to Build a Successful Team

This Post was written by Scott Deutsch
Date posted: April 23, 2018

https://pixabay.com

Building a successful team is about more than putting people with great talent together. It’s a detailed process involving clear communication and getting to know your members. Moreover, the longevity of a team stems from your ability to stand out as a strong leader. As you begin assembling your group, read our tips on how to build a successful team:

Establish relationships
As the leader, it’s your job to know each member of the team. Figure out their skill sets, their strengths and weaknesses, and their professional goals. Once you understand these, you can place each person in a role that will make them shine.

You need to understand each member individually before you can begin to help them grow close to one another. Learning more about your employees helps you find ways to motivate them, individually and as a group. From there, you’ll be able to foster the relationships between each member.

Set goals and provide incentives
Setting short and long-term goals does wonders for team productivity. It establishes a foundation with which to work off of and makes daily tasks easier to manage. Consider recommending an agile approach. Continuously check in with everyone to evaluate and discuss their progress toward the higher goals.

When certain goals are met, try providing incentives where possible. This could be bringing in breakfast, offering a day where they can work from home, or giving out gift cards. It’s no surprise that incentives like these are an effective motivator.

Additionally, go the extra mile to explore what doesn’t work with motivating your team. Remember, it’s just as important to understand what demotivates people as it is to know what motivates them.

Create a culture
Just as your organization has its own culture, your team will develop one as well. As the leader, investigate what your team members consider to be important beliefs and behaviours. How do they picture working together? What do they expect when they enter a group setting? By diving into this, you can help spearhead your team culture. Create your values and expectations together so everyone is on the same page and satisfied with their work environment.

Promote transparency
A successful team communicates clearly with one another. Not only do your members keep you in the loop, but they keep each other involved as well. Don’t forget to offer feedback on a constant basis. It’s a mistake to wait until something has gone wrong to then sit down and discuss the issues. To avoid feelings of constant scrutinization, communicate frequently and informally.

With these steps in mind, remember that every successful team is different, and you need to be aware of the nuances and dynamics of your team. Be flexible enough to adapt to what they need while still maintaining your role as the leader.

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An Overview of Scrum Methodology

This Post was written by Christopher Hughes
Date posted: April 2, 2018

Agile methods assist project managers by increasing productivity as well as efficiency. In case you’re not clear on this, Scrum methodology is an agile way of managing a project, while Agile is an umbrella term. It’s one of the most popular frameworks for implementing Agile, especially in software development. The more organizations realize the benefits of Scrum Methodology, the happier and more productive its employees will be.

An Overview
Scrum teams typically consist of five to nine people, and do not have any form of leader who delegates tasks or makes final decisions. This is to facilitate team unity. With this setup, the team addresses any issues together, making each member an integral part of the whole. While there is no hierarchy, there are three important roles in a Scrum team: the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the Development Team.

Teams that use scrum methodology experience:

  • Higher productivity
  • Higher-quality products/results
  • Reduced project time
  • Stronger team dynamics
  • Happier employees

The Scrum Sprint
A team’s project progresses through the use of Scrum events, sometimes called ceremonies. A Sprint is a set block of time, usually between 2-4 weeks, where specific tasks are completed. After that, a Sprint Review should occur to let team members present what they completed. Here, the Product Owner compares the completed work to the Product Backlog. At the end of the sprint, a final meeting, called the Retrospective, takes place. During the retrospective, the team discusses what went well, improvements, and the overall performance during the sprint. It’s also a time to update any strategies for the next sprint.

The product backlog serves as a detailed, prioritized to-do list. It outlines all requirements for the project and sometimes considered as the most important document. During each sprint, teams should refer to the product backlog to create a Sprint Backlog. A completed task from the product backlog should be added to the Increment. The increment summarizes all completed items since the last software release.

The Daily Stand-up, or Daily Scrum, is fairly self-explanatory. It’s a short daily meeting that the team conducts to help prioritize tasks and ensure all members are on the same page. Keep in mind, this meeting should only last about 15 minutes; it’s meant to facilitate collaboration, not status updates.

Top 10 best practices

  1. Develop the Product Vision and Product Backlog together
  2. At the start of your project, try using organizational tools like whiteboards, sticky notes, and spreadsheets to put your project in order.
  3. Be consistent with the Daily Scrum – conduct standing meetings to keep them short and meet at the same time each day
  4. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a retrospective – encourage all team members to seriously review the events during the last sprint and work to improve
  5. Not all items in a product backlog will be developed, but it should contain all possibilities despite this
  6. Have a healthy balance of documentation – prioritize what should and shouldn’t be
  7. Consider Agile/Scrum software programs to help your team stay organized and on track
  8. Never adjust your sprint’s time block – strictly follow it, otherwise your team might continue the process of extending deadlines
  9. Be proactive with quality assurance
  10. Include the client – update them frequently enough to ensure your team grasps what the client desires and make sure you don’t lose sight of it

What would you include on your list of best scrum methodology practices? Let us know on LinkedIn and Twitter!

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Ways to Encourage Employee Development

This Post was written by Scott Deutsch
Date posted: March 5, 2018

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/blue-motivation-neon-lights-sign-1845901/

Keeping your team motivated and productive is a task that requires some out-of-the-box thinking. There can only be so many pep talks and weekly check-ins to promote productivity, which is why it may be time for you to find new ways to engage your employees.

At Bridge, we want our employees to know that we care about their professional growth. In fact, employees are more likely to stay with a company that puts forth the effort to help them become better in their professional roles. Here are our three easy tips on how to encourage employee development:

Promote memberships in professional organizations
Team members who take part in professional organizations outside of the office tend to develop stronger leadership qualities. They want to take what they’ve learned from this outside group and share it with their coworkers. Additionally, they will learn new skills and stay current with trends in their field, while also growing their network. Encourage them to search LinkedIn groups or Meetup.com to find something that sounds interesting.

In general, allow your employees the freedom to explore outside organizations. Help them start by keeping a list of potential groups to join. Once they’ve attended some events, ask them to share their thoughts with the rest of the team. Before you know it, more people will be inspired to work on their professional development.

Encourage writing
No matter what industry you’re in, writing is a skill that everyone needs to practice. At Bridge, we keep a running communal list of thoughtful industry topics. Our employees volunteer to write them which our marketing department then shares. By doing so, we’re allowing everyone the opportunity to have his or her voice heard.

If your company has a blog, encourage your employees to try their hand at writing a couple of articles. Don’t forget, LinkedIn is about more than just increasing your number of connections. Remind your employees to use this as a platform for sharing their professional thoughts and experiences. In fact, anyone can publish an article on LinkedIn, they may just need help getting started.

Keep open lines of communication
The best way you can promote employee development is being accessible. Make it clear to everyone that you, and the company, are there to help your employees become better at what they do. Recognize their accomplishments, promote growth within the company, and act as a resource they can turn to if they are looking for ways to become a better professional.

Want more career tips? Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and don’t forget to search our jobs to find the best fit for you.

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Understanding & Introducing Agile Methods to Your Team

This Post was written by Christopher Hughes
Date posted: March 1, 2018

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2016/08/13/what-is-agile/#24484bb226e3

In today’s business climate change is the only constant.  Being nimble enough to anticipate and react to change in real time will reap the benefits. In 2001, the Manifesto for Software Development introduced a new way to manage software development teams. The methodology, called Agile, is based on a set of twelve principles established by the authors:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly

Through the years, Agile methodology has spread beyond the software development world. Organizations have recognized its effectiveness in employee productivity and customer satisfaction. If you’re thinking of introducing Agile in your workplace, read on.

What is Agile?
Before you begin making changes to the way your team operates, you must fully understand what you’re about to recommend. First and foremost, Agile is based on the ability to respond to change effectively in order to succeed in situations with uncertainty. It emphasizes close collaboration between the developers and the business stakeholders. Customer or stakeholder satisfaction is the first priority. It also advocates early delivery, continuous improvement, rapid and flexible responses to changes, and adaptive planning.

Agile isn’t just a methodology, it’s a mindset. When making the transition to agile practices, remember that you will learn new skills and unlearn old ones. It’s important to remember that Agile seeks to change the way team members, managers, and customers interact.

In the most simplistic way, Agile methods are similar to what we do when we are overwhelmed with our workload. We sit down and make a list, we analyze and prioritize each item on the list, and we start executing. Along the way, we adapt and stay flexible as we go through the list.  

Introducing Agile Methods to your Team

Evaluate your culture
Before diving into introducing Agile to your team, first evaluate the culture of your organization. Implementing agile methods will take time, and your company needs to be patient through this process. There needs to be a desire for change and an overall understanding of open-mindedness.

Start slow by testing small groups
In an agile setting, developers will interact with managers more frequently, but in shorter periods of time. These are referred to as sprints. Whether a sprint is a matter of weeks or months, the idea is to deliver results in small increments. You may run into trouble with some members viewing this as micromanaging. Remind them that in this environment managers work to help eliminate as many obstacles as they can.

It may be best for you to identify one department or project team to start testing agile methods.

Listen
Above all else, listen to your team! Pay attention to people’s questions and concerns about the new strategy. Be aware of what’s catching on quickly and what else needs improved. If necessary, look into on-site coaching. Change in organizations is good, but it does take time and effort.

Due to the rise in popularity of agile methods, there are many resources available to help you. Do your research and take some time to evaluate if your project team would benefit from Agile. When you’re introducing Agile, keep in mind this process won’t be quick and easy. However, the long-term benefits are worth the time and effort.

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