Recap: #22 - Alma Abreu: Outsourcing Project Management
#22 - Alma Abreu: Outsourcing Project Management

Optimizing Team effectiveness and project timelines with “AGILE” and “SCRUM”

Alma Abreu is an “AGILE” coach which is a new generation project management framework the is being increasingly adopted by companies. Opposite to the traditional approach, where there was a planning phase and then several development and release phases, Agile splits the project in partial deliverables establishing two weeks deployment cycles.

As an Agile methodology coach, Alma has specialized in the “SCRUM” framework which is focused on optimizing team’s workflow and productivity. As she puts it: “Scrum is about the psychology of teams”.

The framework uses a short deliverable cycles approach that produces effective results, hence continuously motivating the Team. Additionally, you get a daily project evolution status, while the team becomes more self-organising.

Can Agile be applied to any company?

Alma starts by pointing out that Agile and Scrum help companies with product creation, and even if it’s a services company there is some sort of deliverable. So, what Agile does besides “managing” the production and delivery cycle is to support the conceptual development cycle of a new product.

Agile and Scrum allow teams to brainstorm on market needs and as a result come up with ideas for new products or solutions that address market pains; prioritizing the ideas and paths that will have a higher/ faster ROI.

That brings us to Agile Product Roadmaps. Within a Lean philosophy the Agile Roadmap starts by laying out the all year deliverables cycle, and then on a monthly or two months base, the team continuously re-evaluates the projects and priorities.

The coach supports clients on transforming their companies into Agile organisations

How to move towards a Lean and Agile structure?

The very first move relates to awareness and participation, meaning even if a project is in the Finance area, the team needs to be the company and not just the Finance department.

Then teams need to be trained on how to use Scrum. For Scrum to be effective and also within the small deliverables in short time frame purposes, the company needs to be divided into teams of around 8 persons, each focuses on a specific deliverable.

Alma acts as the Project Manager which in Scrum is called the Scrum Master but in parallel, she is training and coaching the client.

How to apply it to remote part-time outsourcing teams?

Alma starts by stating her personal experience where she has managed Scrum teams with freelancing elements from several geographies, working in part-time towards a specific project.

Alma starts by stating her personal experience where she has managed Scrum teams with freelancing elements from several geographies, working in part-time towards a specific project.

Meetings are most relevant (video meetings) as well as a proper set of support tools (such as Trello and Asana), that help workload and workflow distribution as well as progress track and trace.

Although important, do not just rely on good tools, speak to your team

How does a client realize being in need of project management support?

Alma refers the main point of Outsourcing which is to focus on the essentials, so unless the client company is a project management company, an outsourced project manager will allow the company to focus on their Core Business while a professional expert will be managing their projects.

On the topic of having a 3rd party element representing one’s company, Alma refers to her personal experience, where she had a freelancer project manager that proved her value by continuously demonstrating leadership skills and a commitment attitude. So, trust is built upon demonstrations of effectiveness and adherence to one’s endeavor.

A Project Manager that has a 1o1 relationship with the client is permanently negotiating scope and deadlines while managing internal capacity and priorities, and that requires experience backlog.

Is a Project Manager an overhead?

Any project will have a project manager, no matter what the formal role naming is. Another thing is to create synergies by having a Technical Manager who also does project management and therefore reducing operational cost.

The main point is that, if and when you are facing a client it is most likely that such person is not a technical profile, so it is very relevant to have on the provider’s side someone who can explain complex technical solutions in a plain and simple manner that even a 6-year-old can understand. And that is for the benefit of the project and both companies.

Within her own business, Alma mainly outsources marketing, content writing and website and graphic design

Main clients are web development companies or any other company that is releasing a digital product.

The key factor for becoming a successful project manager is the negotiation skills that allow maintaining the triangle: scope, budget, and schedule balanced.

The relevancy of having a Product Roadmap

It is most important for a business to have a defined roadmap of products/ solutions that are about to be released within that year.

That needs to be in line with the company Core Business, well informed internally, track and traced and continuously looked upon from a constructively critical perspective to assess the adherence to market demand.

As a final message, Alma states that to be successful in business one needs to automate as much as possible, and that also includes the team.

Automating your team will give you that extra time to focus on the essentials

I'm an Outsourcerer. I'm a DNN Geek. I help people with their sites @ DeskPal. I'm a #Pomodoro practitioner. I'm a husband and a father of 2 beautiful girls.

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Aderson Oliveira
Aderson Oliveira