What is Agile Training?

Instructor: Stephen Meyer

Stephen has worked as a Project Manager and is PMP certified, as well as certified by the Scrum Alliance.

While Agile intentionally does not dictate specific processes or methods for project management, a framework does exist and it is valuable to receive training to understand it. Let's learn what that training looks like and how you can benefit from it!

Need for Agile Training

Roberta and her software company are considering making a change. They have used traditional project methodologies for years but have felt the constraints and limitations associated with them. They are looking at transitioning to Agile, which would be significant. In thinking through this decision Roberta needs a clear definition of Agile and an understanding of the training available for her team to implement it.

Agile is an approach to projects that seeks to provide an alternative to the documentation-heavy, process-driven, and sequential approach of traditional methodologies. It focuses on being incremental by breaking project work down into smaller, more manageable pieces, as well as being iterative by breaking the project timeline into repeated cycles. While it is an alternative to traditional methodologies, Agile is not a methodology itself but includes various methodologies that can be used to implement it.

Since Agile is not a specific methodology, training in it is extremely important. There is no single way to do Agile or predetermined set of processes. It is formally defined by little more than a statement of values and principles. The goal is to change the way people approach or think about projects which influences the way they actually manage projects. Agile is adaptable and evolves as people learn and find successes or failures. The shared practice of attempting to implement Agile provides the basis for training.

Training Content

As Roberta starts to explore training options, she finds that most of the training is based on Scrum, which is the most popular methodology used to implement Agile. Given the number of resources available, Roberta opts for this methodology. She finds that she can seek out high-level training for her company as a whole and that there are opportunities for more in-depth training for individuals.

The starting point for Agile training is often for the company as a whole. This is typically done very early on as the company is looking to adopt Agile and needs to learn the basics. This training involves the project team, other stakeholders, and anyone in the company who could be involved with a project in some capacity. It actually involves coaching more than training with the distinction being an emphasis on the organization and how Agile best applies, rather than formal processes or standards to which the company should conform.

The more formal aspects of training are for individuals. These are typically done outside of the company with organizations that specialize in Agile training and accompanied by certifications. The focus of the training is based around the primary roles for Scrum teams, including Scrum Master, Product Owner, and developer, and how each role engages with the Scrum process.

One of the most common Agile training areas is for the Scrum Master role. The Scrum Master is responsible for enabling the development team to be as effective as possible and managing the Scrum process as a whole. This includes facilitating the various Scrum meetings and managing communication and expectations for the team. The primary focus of Scrum Master training is understanding the makeup of the Scrum process and how to empower team members.

Beyond the Scrum Master training, there is also Product Owner training. In Scrum, the Product Owner is the decision-maker for project requirements and the primary stakeholder. In Agile, project requirements take the form of user stories, which are high-level descriptions of user functionality. The training for Product Owners focuses on writing user stories, as well as keeping them in a prioritized, ready state in a product backlog.

The final Scrum role is the developer, who is the one that creates the software produced by the project. Like the other roles, there are training courses for developers as well. The focus of the training is to understand the principles of approaching projects in an incremental and iterative way and how this can be done through development and testing. It also involves understand the tools and techniques necessary for this approach.

Benefits of Training

Once Roberta has a clear picture of Agile training, the benefits are obvious to her. Her company is on board with transitioning to Agile and using Scrum as their methodology. Roberta wants to do this well and believes that investing in training is the way to do it.

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