Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Can you spot the Contradiction?

Here’s a job description I got over the mail (the original message was in Hebrew so I’ve translated):

Subject : Project manager – Control of Agile software

A project manage with control of Agile software is need for an international development company dealing in Wireless Electronics

  • Must – BSC in engineering
  • 1-2 years of experience in project management or in project scheduling and task tracking as part of the project team
  • Experience in Configuration management – significant advantage.
  • Experience in production processes, moving from research to production – an advantage
  • Must have knowledge in Excel, Ms-project, Agile software
  • Great interpersonal skills, teamwork, ability to work under pressure
  • Fast learner of systems and processes, ability to dive into details
  • Excellent English
  • Willingness to travel

Can you see what’s wrong here?

(i.e. why does a real agile person will not get close to this job?)


Alex B said...

"...ability to work under pressure"?

Igal Tabachnik said...

Well, that's easy, "MS-Project".

Alex B said...

And the right answer is...?

Lior Friedman: said...

@igal, it was that obvious wasn't it?
For crying out loud if how does someone expect to attract the right candidate?

@Alex actually also probably right. but since that part appears in almost every posting i see I'm guessing it became invisible to my eyes quite a long time ago.

Moti Mendelovich said...

IMHO, while this is a fun anecdote, you are actually wrong.
I'm pretty sure that this is not what the publisher of the position meant, but there is a great hidden advantage for an agile person who has profound knowledge of MS-Project. Someone like this is probably someone that came from the dark side, the waterfall project management, and went through the hard process of learning and adjusting to the agile state of mind.
Couple of months ago, i was sitting in front of a group of several developers and technical leaders and presented several of the scrum/kanban principles and tools i thought they should fit best for them. When i suggested that they would not go all the way from the beginning, and take only the parts of it that fits best and gives them the immediate value that will allow them to move forward (we are talking about a strictly waterfall project management company), they actually asked me if this is allowed. As it turns out, some agile consultant (I-memorized-a-book-about-scrum-call-me-Andrew-Hunt kind of consultant) said they must abandon anything waterfallish immediately, scaring them out of the process for
nearly two years.

For a company that is still new to agile, or that still has customers that are not allowing you to work agile, a project manager that actually knows how they did things the old way is a Hugh advantage.

Lior Friedman: said...

while this is a nice explanation.
I doubt this is the case.

The more likely explanation is that the HR person who actually wrote this, has little or zero idea what he was told. and the end result is just a bunch of meaningless buzzwords (which is often the case)

There was a couple of wrong terms in the original that might have lost in the translation that leads me to believe that.

and the bad option is that they are actually serious about using MS-project to manage an agile project.

Moti Mendelovich said...

@Lior, I do agree with you that my comment does not explain this specific position description (i also wrote so on my previous comment).
I was just trying to show that the contradiction you spotted isn't necessarily there...

BTW, what would have alarmed me if i was looking at this position, is that they put "Agile software" in the same sentence with "Excel".

Lior Friedman: said...

@moti, of course this is a pure speculative post. I don't know what they are doing.

Excel? Why? I've used excel as a main tool for managing Scrum teams in more then one place. Actually after physical white boards+sticky note. Excel would be my preferred tool. (of course Excel is not appropriate for all contexts)

Moti Mendelovich said...

@Lior, if the position title is agile project manager, deep knowledge of agile software processes is much more important than specifying a tool of some sort.
What if the candidate has a resume of managing dozen of successful agile projects , but did it using google apps, physical boards or notebooks?
If you are going to trust someone with managing your projects, aren't you supposed to trust him\her to learn the tooling you need him to?

Excel should have been under "nice to have", or "advantage" category, or better yet, should have not been there at all.

Lior Friedman: said...

@Moti, cant agree more.
Actually this is true for most positions.
the exact tooling/specific knowledge way over rated. A good person will pick any tool fast enough if he has good base knowledge.
excel, Ms-Project or any other tool can be learnt in a matter of days if you know the process.
a new programming language can be picked in a matter of weeks if you are a good developer.
tooling should never disqualify a candidate.

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