Live Open Hour with iZenBridge: Episode 57

  • Project Management
  • Agile and Scrum
  • Agile Coach
  • Scaling Agile
Created on :
July 5, 2023
Seema Sonkiya
Updated on :
July 26, 2023

We warmly invite you to join us in our planned open-hour sessions, where industry leaders will expertly address and answer your questions. Feel free to inquire about any project management topics, including Agile Awareness, Agile Coaching, Kanban, Scaled Agile Certifications, and follow-up queries. We encourage you to participate and engage in our sessions actively. Before the events, we will share the details of our open-hour sessions, which typically occur on the second and fourth Fridays at 7 PM IST (+5.5 GMT).

Our expert Saket Bansal recently led a Live Open Hour Episode#57 session, which took place on June 30th, 2023. During this session, participants raised various questions regarding the roles of Scrum Master, project manager, and business analyst, including inquiries about career growth within these roles. Mr Saket Bansal provided expert guidance and advice on these topics.

Question: What is recommended Certification for Lead Business Analyst?

Question: How do you balance Sprint Planning and Velocity?

Question: What recommendations do you have for individuals considering which certification to pursue after obtaining a PMP certification?

Question: Is SAFe considered a highly prescriptive framework?

Question: How can quality assurance professionals enhance their careers by seeking learning opportunities? What suggestions or advice do you have for them?

Question: Is the PMP certification still relevant in the agile world, considering frameworks like Scrum and Kanban?

Question: What is the concept of a feedback loop in agile project management?

Question: What is rolling wave planning?

Here is the summarized answer given by Saket Bansal for questions asked by participants-

What is recommended Certification for Lead Business Analyst?

Answer: First, it is crucial to clarify your career goals if you are uncertain about which certification to pursue as a Lead Business Analyst. Determine whether you want to continue working in business analysis or transition towards project management. Some business analysts aspire to move into project management for career growth. Once you decide, you can explore the appropriate certification options.
From a certification perspective, the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a reputable program called PMI-PBA, which provides a comprehensive understanding of business analysis. Additionally, if you work in an Agile environment, consider the Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) offered by Scrum Alliance. The CSPO certification is a cost-effective and time-efficient option compared to PMI-PBA. It is considered a relatively lightweight program specifically designed for Agile practices. CSPO course is typically spread over two or three days for a virtual or classroom program.
If you opt for a business analysis-focused path, starting with the CSPO certification could be a reasonable first step. Following that, you can progress to the PMI-PBA certification, which delves into the details of business analysis, encompassing both Agile and non-Agile approaches. On the other hand, if your career trajectory is leaning towards project management, you can pursue the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
It is important to note that if your organization follows the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), it has its certification program for product management/product ownership called Certified SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager (SAFe® POPM). In such cases, consider undertaking the SAFe® POPM Certification as well.
To summarise, if you are uncertain about which certification to pursue, starting with CSPO and progressing to PMI-PBA (for business analysis focus) or PMP (for project management focus) is recommended. However, if your organization follows SAFe, the Certified SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) certification may be suitable.


How do you balance Sprint Planning and Velocity?

Answer: When balancing Sprint Planning and Velocity, it is acceptable to have a mismatch between the planned and actual velocity. Velocity represents the total story points completed within the sprint time box. These story points are estimated during backlog refinement, typically at a higher level, with some expected variances due to limited visibility.
During Sprint Planning or iteration planning, the team delves into more details to gain clarity on the current product base and Definition of Done. Factors such as the complexity of the product base, the presence of reusable components, and team-specific considerations are taken into account. The team utilizes the most up-to-date information to create a commitment-driven plan that focuses on what they can realistically deliver within the iteration.
In Scrum, the emphasis is on commitment-driven planning during Sprint Planning rather than solely relying on historical velocity. The team commits to what they believe they can achieve based on their understanding at that specific time. If there is a notable variance between velocity and the committed plan, it is crucial to investigate the underlying reasons. The team may have valid explanations for the deviation or require assistance to improve their understanding and planning capabilities.
Consistent overplanning beyond the team’s historical velocity without successful delivery should be addressed by reminding the team to stay within a realistic scope. However, it is natural to have mismatches between velocity and commitment during Sprint Planning, as teams are not expected to adhere to historical velocity strictly. Velocity-driven planning is more appropriate for Release Planning rather than the detailed planning of individual sprints or iterations.
To summarize, balancing Sprint Planning and Velocity involves recognizing that commitment-driven planning, considering the current context and team capabilities, takes precedence over solely relying on historical velocity during the iterative process.

What recommendations do you have for individuals considering which certification to pursue after obtaining a PMP certification?

Answer: There are several recommendations when considering what certification or learning to pursue after obtaining a PMP certification. First and foremost, make the most of the PMP certification. Applying and utilizing the project management concepts and tools learned during the PMP certification in real project delivery situations is important. This hands-on experience will help build confidence and enhance project management skills. It is also beneficial to work towards mastering the tools commonly used in project management, such as Microsoft Project and Primavera. By gaining proficiency in these tools, you can effectively implement them. All these can help in enhancing the exposure to delivery.
Focusing on leadership and people management skills is essential in terms of growth. As you progress, dealing with more stakeholders and team members, developing communication, influencing, and motivating abilities becomes crucial. The International Coach Federation (ICF) offers a coaching certification program that may initially seem geared towards HR professionals but is now growing for any role to develop leadership and people skills. This three to six-month program focuses on mastering the art of conversation, powerful questioning techniques, and influencing people without directly instructing them. It provides structured education in the context of leadership and people management.
Furthermore, as a project manager, it is important to consider how to distribute power and decision-making to the team members. The decision-making process can be approached in various ways, such as having a working agreement or team charter that clearly defines the types of decisions that can be made independently and those that require higher-level involvement. The key aspects to consider are understanding the risks involved, the level of information possessed by different team members, and establishing clear communication channels for decision-making. For new teams or situations where confusion arises, creating a formal written working agreement may be beneficial to ensure clarity and alignment on decision-making responsibilities.
In summary, after obtaining a PMP certification, it is recommended to gain practical experience in project delivery, develop leadership and people management skills, and consider obtaining a coaching certification such as the ICF-ACC program. Additionally, establishing a clear decision-making framework through working agreements or team charters can help distribute power and clarify responsibilities within the team.

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Is SAFe considered a highly prescriptive framework?

Answer: No framework or method, whether waterfall, Scrum or any other, undermines the importance of learning and improvement. All frameworks emphasize the need for retrospectives, inspecting and adapting, lesson learning, and tailoring and customization based on the specific context.
While SAFe does provide a way of working and has a structured approach, it cannot be considered purely prescriptive. Each organization has different challenges, people, and product requirements, so unthinkingly following SAFe in the same manner across all organizations would lead to chaos. SAFe serves as a starting point and provides a structure, but it requires collaboration and adaptation to work effectively in a particular context.
Opinions on frameworks, including SAFe, may vary among practitioners, consultants, and coaches. However, ultimately, the people who implement the framework have ownership over the process. Practitioners are not bound to follow a specific framework if they find it unsuitable. The exception may be in regulated environments where compliance is necessary. In general, practitioners have the freedom to adapt and tailor frameworks according to their needs and preferences.
In summary, SAFe is not considered a highly prescriptive framework. While it provides structure, organizations need to apply it to suit their specific circumstances, and practitioners can adapt and customize it as needed.

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How can quality assurance professionals enhance their careers by seeking learning opportunities? What suggestions or advice do you have for them?

Answer: If you have experience in quality assurance, particularly in auditing and identifying problems in processes, it showcases your involvement in process audits and continuous improvements. With this expertise, your future career directions can be in the consulting space, as a scrum master, or in project management. Assessing your ability to deal with stakeholders and collaborate with diverse teams effectively is important. Conduct a self-assessment to determine how well you can handle these aspects.

If you already understand quality processes well, consider expanding your knowledge to include different approaches such as Scrum and Kanban. Integrating Scrum and Kanban into your toolkit and using them to help teams improve their processes more frequently can be a valuable asset in your career progression. This combination of skills and knowledge can contribute to a successful career path.

Also, adopting a competency-oriented career path is advisable rather than solely prioritizing certifications. Start by identifying the specific role you wish to pursue, such as becoming a scrum master, and then assess the required competencies. Concentrate on developing and enhancing these competencies to strengthen your skills and qualifications.

In addition to competency development, mastering various tools and techniques related to quality assurance and understanding Agile ways of working can greatly contribute to your career growth. Consider expanding your knowledge of quality processes, exploring different approaches like Scrum and Kanban, and familiarizing yourself with quality assurance tools and techniques. These additional skills and insights will further enhance your abilities and make you a valuable asset in your professional journey.

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Is the PMP certification still relevant in the agile world, considering frameworks like Scrum and Kanban?

Answer: The PMP certification is particularly relevant in the agile world when you are engaged in project-based work, which involves temporary endeavours with specific objectives and a defined timeframe. A significant portion, around 50 to 70 percent, of the PMP exam content now includes agile concepts such as user stories, agile estimation, servant leadership, team charters, and Definition of Done. The unique aspect of the PMP certification is that it encompasses all these elements within a project environment.

The PMP certification holds significant value if you find yourself working in a project environment that combines both Agile and predictive approaches, commonly known as hybrid projects. Additionally, even in Agile projects, there can be instances where planning using Gantt charts or roadmaps becomes necessary to provide stakeholders with visibility. In such scenarios, the concepts learned through the PMP certification can prove to be highly useful. However, if you are working purely in a product-oriented environment and have dedicated teams working on long-term product development, the project management competencies emphasized in the PMP certification may be less applicable.

Instead of solely considering whether you are using agile or non-agile approaches, it is essential to determine whether you are working in a project mode or a product mode. If you find yourself in a project mode, the PMP certification is highly valuable as it covers agile, predictive, and hybrid project approaches, making it one of the most sought-after certifications for professionals in this field.

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What is the concept of a feedback loop in agile project management?

The feedback loop, known as the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, is a crucial concept in project management. It revolves around the idea of continuously assessing and improving processes. The PDCA cycle consists of four key steps: Plan, Do, Check, and Act.

In the Plan phase, you establish objectives, set targets, and define the methods or processes to achieve them. The Do phase involves executing the plan and carrying out the defined processes. The Check phase is focused on evaluating the results and comparing them to the expected outcomes. Finally, the Act phase involves taking necessary actions based on the evaluation and analysis conducted in the previous steps to enhance performance and address any identified issues.

The feedback loop is about understanding the impact of actions taken. It involves doing something and observing the results to determine if it worked or not. The sooner you can assess the outcomes, the better. In an agile way of working, feedback loops occur within each iteration or time box. The team plans, executes, delivers, demonstrates, and learns from the experience, continuing to the next feedback loop.

In predictive project management, feedback loops may be longer. Planning and execution take place over an extended period, and the evaluation of success or failure occurs at a later stage. This approach may be suitable when there is sufficient data and knowledge to make informed decisions.

Ultimately, the feedback loop allows for adjustments and improvements based on the observed impact of actions. It is important to identify and address problems as early as possible. The sooner you become aware of any issues, the better equipped you are to respond and make necessary changes, ensuring project success.

What is rolling wave planning?

Answer: Rolling wave planning is a project planning approach where you gradually develop detailed plans as you move closer to the execution phase. In simple terms, it means planning in waves. Rather than attempting to plan the entire project in detail from the start, you begin with high-level plans for the distant future and progressively add more detail as you approach specific time periods.

For example, if you want to plan your entire month, it may not be practical or necessary to have detailed plans for every single day in advance. Instead, you can start with a high-level plan for the last week of the month and a more detailed plan for the upcoming week. As you reach the third week, you can elaborate on the plans for that week. This approach allows for flexibility and adjustment based on the evolving project environment and the availability of accurate information.

In rolling wave planning, certain project elements or work packages that are further in the future may not require immediate detailed planning. For example, activities like end-user training or deployment may be better planned with more accurate information closer to their scheduled time. By adopting a rolling wave planning approach, you can ensure that plans are updated and refined as the project progresses, incorporating new information and adjusting as needed.

Rolling wave planning enables adaptability, as it acknowledges that plans can change based on emerging factors and new insights gained during the project lifecycle. It allows for a more dynamic and responsive approach to project management, ensuring that plans remain aligned with the evolving project needs.

We hope you could have related to some of these questions, and they might have helped you in some way.

To get more assistance, you can connect with the iZenBridge Team.

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For more such insights and a lot of interaction with the industry experts, stay tuned for our next “Live Open Hour” which is conducted Every second and fourth Friday at 7 PM IST on


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