Talking Project Management and Scaling Agile (PODCAST)

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Posted by Huimin

3 June 2015

Our Director of Product Management, Suzie Prince, and Chad Wathington, our Managing Director, were recently guests on TechnologyAdvice’s Expert Interview Series to discuss project management learning curves, scaling entire organizations for agile, and team collaboration. Here’s the audio:

Below are a few highlights from the conversation:

TechnologyAdvice: What’s a big trend right now for project management?

Suzie: One thing we’ve definitely started to see is agile project management software and ThoughtWorks being associated with that. It’s definitely to the place where it’s crossed the chasm now. We see a lot more companies doing that. Because of that trend, more and more people are doing agile, scrum, or kanban because large organizations are taking it on and trying to basically scale their entire technology organization to do agile.

We’ve been studying the market and recently did a market survey and even saw up to 80 percent of technology professionals we spoke to were concerned about how they were going to scale agile in their organization. That’s something we definitely take into account on our product roadmap with Mingle. We want to keep the flexibility and the team focus with Mingle, but clearly there is an opportunity and challenge to help these organizations really bring agile and Mingle with them when they’re looking at many, many more types of people.

“You understand why it is you’re trying to BE agile, as opposed to DO agile.”

TA: Mingle does more than just agile, you do scrum and kanban as well. Is one better or are they designed for different workflows?

Chad: It really depends on the style of the organization. I think scrum is rooted in a different way of thinking about how teams collaborate versus kanban which is really rooted in lean thinking about how people collaborate. There are advantages/disadvantages to both styles and it’s just a preference. We see a lot of people start with scrum and then end up doing some sort of scrum/kanban harmonation. We always advocate that people do extreme programming developing practices with whichever one of the two project management tools they follow.

TA: Your tagline is “the last project management tool your team will ever need.” What’s the thought process behind that?

Chad: One of the things we noticed when we first built Mingle was the idea that teams themselves, as they get better and improve as they go, they change. A team can say today I want to plan my work this way and tomorrow this way. There’s all these things that people do. Then when you think about that, as teams change, then organizations really change as well. We built Mingle with that concept in mind—today I want to track bananas, and tomorrow apples. The whole workflow, how you report, and how you think about structuring your project changes with how your team grows.

TA: What’s a challenge for the industry right now?

Suzie: For the project management role, if we think about something like a portfolio management office, how do you tie in these agile principles where your team is empowered and has ownership but still has visibility into what’s going on? How is the team progressing, am I delivering what I promised?

There’s a rub there for some organizations. They see the value and benefit in empowerment and get more valuable products out of the process. They want to tie it all in together and see what’s going on. That’s one of the things we think about a lot—bridging the gap between building the best thing you can, but it not appearing like chaos and there being visibility into that.

Listen to the entire show above in order to hear the full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud to get alerts about new episodes. The podcast series explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

(This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Josh Bland.)

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