Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2010/11/10

Scrum and Agile outside of IT

While Agile and Scrum philosophies were formulated within software development context, these have been applied in many other areas. Examples:

See more articles “Scrum is not just for Software” on the ScrumAlliance site.

One concept all the above examples have in common: the desire to create a “learning organization”, to improve the present practice for a better future – regardless of the specific definition of “better”.

Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2010/11/10

Scrum Tracking Tools

The best Scrum tracking tool is, hands down, the burndown chart manually drawn on a scrum task board. Why is this best? Because 1) it takes the least amount of overhead, and 2) it entices conversation that aids the team’s information sharing (see The Taskboard is the Heart of Scrum) and 3) acts as an “information radiator” visible to passers-by. (see Starting options for a Task Board)

However, when working with a distributed team, an online tool becomes a necessity, and this need outweighs the overhead cost (and distractions, limitations) of using an online tool.

Some of my favorite tools, categorized here as Free and Commercial, available at this time:

PivotalTracker – very light-weight
Target Process – free for up to 5 users
VersionOne – Team Edition – free for up to 10 users
Rally – Community Edition – free for up to 10 users
FireScrum – OpenSource
XPlanner – OpenSource, conceived in XP, can be adapted for Scrum; tips for getting started

VersionOne – Team Edition – extra features over the free edition
Rally – Enterprise Edition
ScrumWorks Pro
Basecamp + Burndown plugin for Basecamp: 

Yes, there are many more tools out there, also commented upon on another great list.

Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2010/08/23

FAQ: Scrum and Agile – Introductory Resources

Since I started working as Agile/Scrum Coach in helping software development teams achieve higher efficiency in delivering their business’ goals, one frequently asked question is for additional information.  Here are my favorite references todate:

Introductory Videos (short):

Introductory Readings

Good Reading List: Scrum Resources for Begginers

More in-depth videos:

Foundational Books:

  1. Agile Project Management with Scrum (Microsoft Professional) by Ken Schwaber
  2. Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn
  3. Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum by Mike Cohn
  4. Agile Software Development with Scrum (Series in Agile Software Development) by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle


Specialty References:

  1. The Enterprise and Scrum by Ken Schwaber
  2. Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck
  3. Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck
  4. ScrumButs: The Dangers of Customizing Scrum by Ken Schwaber and Kevin Aguanno
  5. User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development by Mike Cohn
  6. Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory
  7. Practices for Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Large, Multisite, and Offshore Product Development with Large-Scale Scrum by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde (Paperback – Feb. 8, 2010)
  8. Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, and Ken Schwaber
  9. Scrum and XP from the Trenches (Enterprise Software Development) by Henrik Kniberg
  10. Scaling-Lean-Agile-Development-
  11. Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde
  12. Agile and Iterative Development: A Manager’s Guide by Craig Larman
  13. A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum (Developerworks) by Elizabeth Woodward, Steffan Surdek, and Matthew Ganis
  14. SCRUM Product Ownership — Balancing Value From the Inside Out by Robert Galen


Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2009/02/06

PMPs: Getting PDUs

PMP Logo

For PMPs who wish to retain their certification:

Need 60 PDUs in each 3-yr re-certification cycle.

Make sure you get these PDUs:

  • Seminars and Courses: 1 PDU per 1 hr of structured learning
    • Seminars: PMI Chapter presentations, Conferences, or attendance at *any* presentation on a PM topic
    • Courses: any course on Project Management topic qualifies (incl. e.g. Business Management).
      If the Educational Provider is not a registered PMI REP, then also keep in your records course syllabus, and qualifications of the instructor.
  • Self Directed Learning:  max 15 PDU per 3 year cycle, Category 2SDL
    • This can be on any PM related activity, such as discussions with peers/mentors/mentees, reading a book on PM-related topic.
    • For audit purposes: keep record of dates and any notes about the event: who was there, topics discussed, etc.
  • Working as a PM professional on full time basis:  5 PDUs/year, Category 2H
  • Serving as Elected Officer on a PMI Component Board, or volunteer, or on *any* non-profit organization: Category 5, 10 PDUs/yr for an elected office, else max 5 PDU/yr, maximum 20 PDUs in 3 year cycle

Courses and Seminars can be obtained from any of the following:

  1. University/College, academic and continuing education programs
  2. PMI or its Component: Chapter or SIG, congress, seminar
  3. PMI REP – Registered Education Provider
  4. Employer/company  (e.g. internal courses on project management topics offered by one’s employer)
  5. Distance learning companies
  6. Training companies or consultants

In cases of unofficial providers (#4,5,6 in above list): keep records of course syllabus, and qualifications of the instructor. For filing purposes, use these Categories:

  • Category 1 – offered by a formal academic education (University/College), taken for degree/credit
  • Category 3 – if offered by an REP  or PMI Component (Chapter or SIG)
  • Category 4 – if offered by a non-REP

The above are the “easiest” PDUs to obtain.  Somewhat more involved are PDUs in Categories 2A to 2G:

  • Speaker/teacher at a conference, symposium, workshop or formal course, or speaker at PMI/Component event
  • Author/Co-author of articles (in refereed or non-refereed journal) or textbook on PM-related topic
  • Developer of content for a structured learning courseware
Documentation: Keep records and notes for your PDU claims for at least 18 months after the 3-yr cycle ends.

Complete info is in the PMP Credentials Handbook, pp. 24-31.

To report or view your PDUs, go to PDU Online Reporting and Transcript

Silvana Wasitova PMP – 2004 President of PMI Silicon Valley Chapter
Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2015/11/02

My Favourite Retrospective Tools and Techniques

Favourite tools:

  1. Stickie notes, bar none.
  2. Food and drinks – it’s amazing how much smoother conversation flows when people feel more comfortable.
  3. Trusting atmosphere. Ok, this is not really a tool. And this should be number one.


  1. The trusted: went well, can be improved, commitment to improve. That’s the Plus-Delta-Decide.
  2. Any variation to #1, after all, it can get boring. Some great ideas for variations:
    1. Carina’s
    2. Retrospective Wiki
    3. xxx
  3. Always always have a team decision on at least one item to try/change/improve. And not too many. Better to have a few, and really doing them than producing a long list where nothing gets done.

My favourite books and tools are:

Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2015/11/01

Scrum Adoption at an Enterprise Level

My talk at GoTo Night – Trifork Zurich February 13, 2012

Scrum Adoption at an Enterprise Level – Video 

Q&A with Jeff Sutherland & Silvana Wasitova – Video

Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2015/10/31

Tips for Restrospective with a Distributed Team

If conducting a retrospective with a co-located team is challenging enough, it is even more so with a distributed team. Lack of immersive experience, of immediacy, personal connectedness can put a hamper on the readyness, willingness and ability to hear each other out, and on formulating the best ideas and path forward for the team.

The intention of the retrospective still is to identify improvements for the entire team, now keeping in mind that the needs of persons at the different locations may vary, and balancing those out.

Some tips:

  1. Give precedence to the smallest teams: they speak first. They are already somewhat “isolated” from the “larger” teams, no need to exacerbate this factor.
  2. Teams from HQ Listen First. HQ does not always have to be the center of the universe.
  3. Use video-conferencing and screen-sharing tools.
  4. Ask for confirmation: is this what you mean? what you intend?
  5. Have a live-chat session open, so anytime someone says “can you repeat, I did not hear that”, the words can be both said and typed. This is especially true when people have differently accented common language, with several non-native speakers.
  6. Alternate speaking across locations, this minimizes tuning-out.
  7. Alternate record-keeping across locations across sessions, this increases sense of ownership from all locations.

IMG_5114 IMG_5110

Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2011/04/07

Ten Years after the Agile Manifesto

Last week I had the pleasure of co-training a CSM course with Jeff Sutherland, the man who first conceived the idea of Scrum. At this occasion, Jeff shared stories about how in 1993 he and his team at Easel Corporation set off in search of ways to increase productivity, and in the process came across the paper by Professors Takeuchi and Nonaka The New New Product Development Game  (1986). The paper described “the holistic rugby approach” to new product development, and identified six characteristics of this approach:

  1. built-in instability
  2. self organizing project teams
  3. overlapping development phases
  4. multi-learning
  5. subtle control
  6. transfer of learning to organization

This is the approach that gave birth to the term “Scrum” to describe a collaborative and iterative approach to product development, and eventually became the name of the framework.

Jeff also shared a retrospective on the Agile Manifesto. He and other original signatories of the Manifesto recently got together on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, and they brainstormed to  identify the priorities for the future of agile and product development. This is their list:

  1. Demand technical excellence
  2. Promote individual change and lead organizational change
  3. Organize knowledge and improve training
  4. Optimize the whole value chain

Sounds like good priorities to me, so I’m off to optimize my value chain…

Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2011/02/04

Scrum and Distributed Teams

Distributed Teams? That’s not Scrum! We’re supposed to be co-located!

Well, the reality is… many companies are already applying scrum framework to their distributed development model.
At least, that is the finding of one survey: 57% of respondents already work with distributed teams (“State of Agile 2008” by VersionOne).

Here are a few suggestions to “make it work”:

Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2011/02/04

Agile Transformation

Introducing Scrum in an enterprise typically starts with a small-scale experiment, initiated by either curiosity “I wonder how it works”, or necessity “We gotta do something differently”.  If initial results are deemed to be favourable, inevitably more initiatives will adopt the approach, and, sooner or later, it becomes the new norm within that enterprise.  Below are my recommended strategies for agile adoption:

If conducted thoughfully, and with courage to continuously remove any obstacles to efficiency, the entire experience will be transformative.  After all, that may really be what was necessary.


Posted by: Silvana Wasitova | 2009/07/04

PDUs for Toastmasters Participation

The question is often asked: can one get PMI PDU credits for Toastmasters (TM) activities?

Two TM activities that clearly qualify for PMI PDUs, and definitely involve project management:

1. Doing the High Performance Leadership (HPL) Project, qualifies under Category 2-SDL, the “Self Directed Learning” category. Category 2-SDL is the least restrictive PDU category: reading a book on a Project Management topic qualifies, as is holding private conversations on PM topic (e.g. chats with mentor or colleague), as long as one keeps notes of the dates, topics and learning objectives/summary.
The limit for Category 2-SDL is 15 PDUs in per 3-year re-certification cycle.

2. Provide Project/Program Management services to a non-profit organization: max of 5 PDUs per year under Category 5.  E.g. serving as District Officer and having clear project plan for that year.

For all other activities: it depends on how much project management content is presented. E.g.:

Speaker on a project management topic at a District Conference: 10 PDUs per activity, Category 2C.

Attending a TM presentation *on a project management topic*: could  qualify under Category 4, as long as the presenter is qualified to speak on the topic (not just your good old “Uncle Bob”).  Need to keep records of: attendance, topic(s) covered, and qualifications of the speaker. 1 PDU per hour of attendance, Category 4.

So yes, it is possible to get PMI credits for specific TM participation, as long as the topic/activity is directly related to project management.

Some have asked if attending TM meetings could qualify, or completing TM educational awards (CC, CL etc).  Sure, they could qualify under Category 2-SDL as a “self directed learning” activity with project management objectives.  Then again, so many other activities qualify for Category 2-SDL, that I personally would not bother registering CC and CL, and never have.  In the last 3 CCR cycles I easily completed the  15 Category 2-SDL PDUs without ever including claims for TM activities. Yes, I claimed PDUs for the “PM consulting service to non profit organization” for each of my years as a District Officer.

Some have asked if TM meeting attendance could qualify under Category 4 PDU  for “Courses provided by non-registered Educational Providers” in a structured-learning environment.  For purposes of PMI re-certification audit, the requirements for PDUs Category 4 are:

  • course registration form (& course duration)
  • course certificate or letter of attendance
  • brochure or course materials outlining the subject matter
  • qualifications of the instructor/lecturer

Attending the generic weekly TM meetings does not qualify for this category, since each meeting is not structured for exploring a Project Management topic for a specific learning objective.

Note: If someone has a letter from PMI stating that attending TM meetings is acceptable for PDUs Category 4, please share the letter or the specifics: there likely are hundreds, if not thousands, PMPs worldwide who might also be interested. 🙂

Complete info on PDU categories is in the PMP Credentials Handbook, pp. 25-30.

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