Tuesday, 31 July 2018

An introduction to agile Scrum and Kanban for SaaS Productivity



      The discipline of product management has grown and evolved in the era of the internet as Software as a Service(SaaS) and web apps. Agile focuses on ever-changing business requirements and the needs to create a product to be consumed and shipped in smaller units. It supports strong teamwork, accountability,  and communications to ensure the product aligns with client company goals. The success of the product depends on the solid and continual execution of updates, growth surfaces and more. So, the product management tools have to adjust the complexities of continuous delivery.
           The Scrum and Kanban are well-known agile productivity tools. It is to decide on your projects to be completed quicker or if you want to improve the overall process. Try the Scrum method, if you want to produce the work faster, or use the Kanban to improve your production process. If the project demands a linear workflow, implement the waterfall method.  It depends on the business requirements to decide between these two agile methodologies.

 Agile, Scrum & Kanban: Agile is used to describe the project management methodology which breaks down the large projects into smaller manageable units. It is used in software development to speed up the completion of projects. If you want to work in agile, the Scrum and Kanban are two ways to do it. These are two different methodologies with subtle differences. Both methods use the physical board, where people work between three different categories,
* Work that needs to be done
* Work that is in Progress and
* Work that has Completed

Overview of Scrum Method:
       The Scrum is a project management framework mainly describes an iterative and incremental approach for the project work. It is a transition from a project focused to a team-centric structure. The scrum model takes time to implement. But, the effort will be the payoff. The components of the scrum framework are,
   *  Roles:  The Scrum Master, Scrum Product Owner, and the Scrum Team.
   * The Prioritized Product backlog containing the end user requirements called as sprints
   * Scrum Review Meeting, Scrum Retrospective Meeting, Daily Sprint Meeting
    Generally, the Scrum teams are small. Their main tasks are to break down the requirement, create tasks and distribute them. This will be used for Sprint Backlog. They will perform daily Sprint Meeting and ensure at the end of the Sprint, the shippable functionality is delivered. The sprint rules get the team motivated and productive.
Sprint Rules:
1. Avoid adding new features to your Sprint Once you have started it.
2. Keep new features for the next iteration
3. Commit to complete your sprint first
4. Keep your sprint short, deliver early

    The Scrum team selects the User Stories and make sure that they can finish within the 2-4 weeks of Sprints. They are allowed to commit their own goals and work with the best possible performance. Also, they need to update the status of the efforts and allow the creation of Sprint Burn Chart. The Scrum masterwork as a servant-master within the scrum team. His main tasks are to reach its maximum productivity on the scrum team. The Scrum Product Owner can be anyone with a solid understanding of the user or the end customer and or stakeholders responsible for maximizing the value of the product and ensure that work is done at the right time.
      Product backlog consists of all the requirements that need to be done to successfully deliver the working software system. It is a living document that there is a list of things that need to be done within the project.  The sample Product backlog is,

The Definition of Done: When the feature is complete(in terms of quality, testing, and documentation) are defined by the definition of done(DOD) right at the start of the sprint. The incomplete or untested feature will not be released to the customer. This allows the resource usage(time, budget) to the customer and minimizes the waste. This Scrum Implementation Steps will help the best practices in your organization.

Using the Kanban Method to achieve Flow in the Business: It is also an incremental approach and evolutionary process that the systems change for the organization. It was originally developed in Toyota Factory to overhaul the system and delivery. It uses the visualization via kanban board of tangible work items. The flow-based principles applied in numerous types of work environments.  It allows limiting work in progress by multitasking and context switching, exposes any operational problem your business may have and stimulate the collaboration by continuously improve the system.

     It is a pull system that provides focus, sustainable pace & regular delivery by focusing on optimizing the flow of work from beginning to end. It also proves to be a great way to promote the environment.
The Key Principles of Kanban:
    1. Start with what you Do now
    2. Respect the current process, roles, responsibilities and job titles - Recognize some part of the existing process work acceptably and worth preserving.
   3. Agree to pursue the incremental and evolutionary change
   4. Encourage the act of leadership at all levels. Work collaboratively and don't wait for someone to make things better.

Kanban Method :
Visualize your Current Process:  Start defining your kanban board that visualizes the process your team to develop, test and deliver/deploy the user stories. State changes in the work that generally reflect changes in the activity used to generate new information about that work. In the Ready-Doing-Done board, expand the Doing column into each step the user story goes through. The kanban board look like the one below,

    Define WIP Limits: Once you get the visualization of kanban board, You need to implement WIP in each stage/step to reflect the maximum amount of work should be there in each step at a time. Then, you have to observe the typical flow of work and decide the WIP limit specified per stage. WIP Limits are shown as numbers on each stage in the picture,
                                 Image Credit: Pawel Brodzinski

Improve Flow by addressing the Bottlenecks: Once you start to observe the flow and evaluate the stages where work is getting blocked, you can discuss in your team meetings and address the problem being faced. Solutions would range from adjusting WIP Limits in earlier stages to regulate flow better by defining explicit policies to handle work that is being held up, adjusting the resource assignment and so on.
    When the team understands theories about workflow, process, and the risk then they will be able to improve the problem. The team will evaluate the situation, suggest a change and predict an outcome. The predictability of kanban comes from measuring the cycles time and using that to predict the delivery date of an item in the backlog.
The Advantages of Kanban are,
 * It provides a sustainable pace for your team
 * It supports for small changes over the time
 * Gain faster delivery and more money.

Scrumban: Scrumban is the blend of Scrum and Kanban. Scrumban is the agile methodology for scrum team exploring the Lean and Kanban concepts in the organization.  Basically, the Scrumban framework is implemented when the team opt for Scrum as the working way and use Kanban methodology as a magnifying glass of view that carry out the continuous improvement in the work. Many organizations experience issues with scrum methodology. So the enterprise discovered the optimized means of clubbing the methodologies as the new way for the teams to follow. The need to combine these two concepts is due to the cons of both techniques. Those are,
Cons of Scrum :
  1. In the scrum, sprints must be time-boxed to a month or less. This deaccelerating the working pace of the team
  2. Each sprint should be a potentially releasable product at the end of the increment. The teams are asked to deliver the software design that is coded and tested at every span to the stakeholders. This creates anxiety for the members.
 3. Scrum teams are entirely committed to customer requirements. If they fail to achieve the target, they might add technical debts to solve the time-boxed problem.
Cons of Kanban:
     Kanban first used in car manufacturing line and believed that can be used in the repeatable processes. Also, it will not be used for complex software development process systems that the needs changes at each and every point.

So, the term Scrumban discovered by Corey Ladas coined the syllables "scrum" and "ban" that describe the several phases of transition from the Scrum to Kanban. He suggested that the time boxed principle mandated by the scrum is no longer necessary and there are few changes made in the practice of Scrumban over the kanban and scrum are,
    * Organized and added specialized teams and function
    * Queuing and the laws of flow theory are applied
    * Realized the value of time-boxed iterations.
By applying the right changes, You can overcome the cons of the agile methodologies and it can be used in large enterprises. The basic metrics of flow of the scrum team using the kanban are,
    * Work In Progress(WIP): It is the number of work item started but not finished(according to the scrum team's definition of workflow in the kanban guide for scrum teams)
    * Cycle Time: It is the amount of time elapsed between when the work item starts and the work item finishes.
    * Work Item Age: It is the amount of time between the work item started and the current time.
    * Throughput: The number of work items finished per unit of time. It is also the exact count of work items.
                                           



Sunday, 15 July 2018

Experts Reveal on B2B Brand Thought Leadership Content for the Customer's Journey


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       Thought leaders earned the respect of others and are the true leaders within the industry. It is a go-to authority for their insights on development, expertise and practical knowledge. It requires willpower, knowledge along with your time and energy to develop a solid reputation and earn the respect of your audience. They have the information about trending issues and contributes meaningfully to the industry. They are well-known to deliver consistent and exceptional results that build the solid foundations in the industry.
      Thought leadership plays an important part of a content marketing strategy. Brands need for strategic thought leadership content along with product and purpose-orientated messaging. Content establishes the brand as an authority in a specialized field or business. It could be the answers to the biggest questions on the mind of the company's customers. It gives an organizations unique perspective to the public so that prospects can think of the company when they are ready to buy. So, your marketing efforts will be powerful when your expertise matches the interests of the audience they are trying to reach.
       Often, the business owners are the only source of thought leadership in the organizations. But, encourage the new member in your organizations as a thought leader to bring a unique way of answering the questions.  Allow him to look at the emails when they have answered the toughest questions for customers or others in the organization for inspirations. The company wants the insights and ideas. It is like telling the story. An internal or external marketing resource can turn it into something customers can read. Also, it needs to be a consistent schedule. The content marketing using thought leadership are effective if the company publishes the new information on a weekly/ bi-monthly basis and one team member should be responsible for ideas.

Thought Leadership Content: 
Great thought leadership treats blog content as valuable as the polished ebook. Whitepapers and ebooks are used to highlight and demonstrate the expertise of thought leadership to the target audience. It usually takes a comprehensive look at a subject and designed for some attentive reading time.  It is defined as the distinctive, authoritative, provocative and provides insights into the industry. It is the kind of information people in the industry are eager to consume and share. You have to stand out the thought leadership content when it doesn't require a lead gen form. So, the content that makes the customers call you. It can be achieved by including the new formats and distribution mechanism. The experience, tools, and effort will help you to move forward faster than your competition,
  1. Experience: the depth, insight, and knowledge you have on your industry
  2. Tools: Content Marketing, blog, and social channels
  3. Effort: Time and effort you are willing to put to stay on top of the news and drive the trends in your industry. Also, it includes nurturing the relationship with an influencer and relevant media outlets.

The Influence of Thought Leadership Content: 
The Thought leadership content that influences B2B decision makers relates to the topic they are currently working are having these properties,
   * 3-4 pages of content
   * Snack-sized content, consumed in 1-2 minutes
   * Short videos
Excellent-level thought leadership development content requires planning and input from SME's. It must attract and compel the reader for conversion. The study shows that the organization based on thought leadership content including the C-level executive are over 80% agree their trust level increased after engaging with it.

 Follow these steps to implement the thought leadership in your company,
    1. Identify your company to be known:  Thought leadership specifically for the digital and innovation areas. It is the combination of value, strategy, and purpose.
   2. Select the people in your Organization: Once you identified the areas to be known for, you need select the appropriate people to raise the company to profile in the areas. Companies have to look at the expertise, potential to speak, write and contribute on the topic etc.,
   3. Focus on Development: The appropriate people have to be trained for broader thinking. It allows them to present their ideas in the conceptual levels through models, research and stories.
  4. Provide the support and opportunity to Customer: Company needs to provide ongoing support and opportunities that add value to employees and customers.

Here are the best examples of industries thought leadership content,

    1. Openview Labs is an example of B2B expansion stage software company. It brings founders and other experts to help SaaS companies find product-market fit, generate the demand and develop the organizational structure. They publish the wealth of valuable information covers the product development, customer success, marketing, finance, sales exit strategy and much more for starting and growing the business.



2. The most effective content marketing is to help others. So, educating others helps to solve the problems and it is also the most effective reliable approach. The CRM software company  Pipedrive using its blog to publish a consistent stream of valuable advice by posting the useful articles about the sales industry to educate their customer and provide act on advice for small businesses,

    Generally, the content market project has in common goal that how skillfully they link thought leadership with the overall goals. As a result, they are breaking the consequential material turns their sites into destinations for repeat visitors. The thought leadership content has the following features,
     1. Thought leadership content marketing starts with thinking rather than the straight line process
     2. Thought leadership content is effective and leading to the conversation
     3. It will help to grow the customers and partners
     4. Educating the markets on emerging trends and opportunities

The things to follow to become the best thought leader are,

 1. Thought leadership is a Professional Boost:  The thought leadership is a day job for business owners who focus their efforts on the production and dissemination of content. Professionals embrace thought leadership because they want to elevate their standing in the profession and attracts new business. If you want to become a high performer in your field, then you are expected to advance the conversation and present an engaging point of view. The primary cost of thought leadership will be your time. As you create content and engage with social media, you will get busy and accelerate your opportunities and potentially multiply your earnings.

 2. Develop your Personal Brand: Your personal brand is the combination of your personality, reputation, expertise, and history. So, your personal brand needs to be different from the company brand. The robust social media presence helps you to develop the personal brand by sharing the educational content and conversation around hot topics that will you differentiate from your competitor.
3. Write for the Press Release: Media is a powerful source for boosting your ranking. HARO(Help A Reporter Out) connects with a journalist who is interested to talk with people in the industry. Press Release strategies are used by businesses at every occasion from the creation of a product to the great endeavor.
These are some essential components in the press release that can distribute in the media. Those are,
   .* Captivating Headlines: Headlines are crucial for click-through rate on social media and search engines. The perfect headlines must be around 100 characters or less suitable for social media and the people to scan it.
    * Simple and Straight Forward Message: PR should be easy to pick it up and understand your news. It should get to the point in the first paragraph. So, keep your release on one page.
    * Highlight the Message for your Target Audience: The important thing in PR is to highlight someone will benefit from your PR. So, Research the audience and understand who you are addressing before you prepare the press release. For example, your target audience in the C-Suite of the technology industry then crafts your release that concerns about to come up in the course of their day-to-day business.
    * Include a Quote: It helps your audience appeal and branding yourself as a thought leader. So, include the quotes that are relevant and explaining the impact your announcement in the industry.
    * Include the CTA: The goal of the CTA is to engage readers and motivate them to act. So, include the CTA which are appropriate to their action in positive language.
    * Optimize for SEO: Search engine is an integral part of crafting the perfect PR. So, choose the long tail keyword contains your industry and demography like India's Business Software Services, Newyork's financial software services etc.,
    * Include the Graphic Elements and Social Sharing Links; Graphics, bullets, charts, video will help you to engage more people in your story. Plus, the releases with images receive more views than text-only releases. Make it easy to share your PR by including the sharing buttons or links at the bottom of the PR. The Pitchengine helps you to distribute your PR on social media.
      In the end, Proofread your release at several times and remember that the release and distribution service should be very keen on the grammar rules. Consult an editor or Associate Press Stylebook(APS) for the current rulebook before releasing to the press.   
4. The Thought Leadership Opportunities:  The simple way of getting the TL opportunities are,
   1. Start with Your Positioning: 
   * The distinct value your company provides that intersect with your customer needs
   * Bring the simplicity and security to the chaos of mobility
   2. Follow with their priorities
    * What problem does your customer need to solve, why and what caused the problem.
    * Enable remote access to applications with colleagues and increase the mobile workforce.