Karina Golkova is the Project Manager at Crowdskout. She works as the liaison between the engineering and business teams, managing expectations and ensuring that software updates align with the needs of both customers and stakeholders.
Crowdskout is a data-driven advocacy platform that empowers customers to perform outreach efforts with an array of features and apps. To develop our platform, we leverage the Agile Methodology, derived from a document known as the Agile Manifesto. It helps us develop software iteratively and to deliver it frequently. As the engineering team’s project manager and the caretaker of the Agile process, I am able to be much more hands-on with the intricacies of software development itself and have a far more dynamic relationship with teams cross-departmentally than I would in a traditional project management structure.
Developed by a group of subject matter experts as frustrated by bureaucracy as they were experienced in navigating it, the Agile Methodology is the software delivery life cycle’s answer to developing the product quickly, sensibly, and collaboratively. Through planning and developing software incrementally, with business leaders working alongside engineers, teams are able to embrace and even thrive during scope change in order to give customers the most competitive advantage.
What this means for a project manager is being equipped with the tools to both rapidly and successfully move an evolving product from ideation to release, while staying flexible, efficient, and knowledgeable. In other words: staying agile.
Prior to joining Crowdskout, I was a longtime practitioner of a methodology known as Waterfall, which is most commonly used in government and nonprofit. Waterfall outlines a project and its milestones from start to finish and has a tedious series of complex processes often too rigid to maintain the customer’s best interest, especially in industries where staying ahead of the tech curve is vital. In my transition to becoming an Agile practitioner, I am able to help connect customers with products and services as dynamic as their business needs.
At Crowdskout, Agile is leveraged cross-departmentally. Both business and engineering teams operate within independent sprint schedules, or one-to-two week time boxes, which are coordinated around the delivery of product increments. These software-centric best practices lend themselves to shorter feedback cycles that reinforce either the planned scope of our features or allow for strategic changes to be made with minimal administrative hurdles. In addition, lessons learned are compiled on a rolling basis. Teams are able to improve their strategy within shorter spans of time than they would in a more traditional project structure.
What makes managing projects at Crowdskout particularly rewarding is the organization’s effectiveness in fully living arguably the most challenging of the 12 principles of Agile: “Business people and developers must work daily throughout the project.” We start with the basics, ensuring everyone speaks the common language of the user story. This small but invaluable foundation is the input for every facet of working on a piece of software. User stories establish who the product is being built for, what is being requested, and what is its intended use. For the Business Teams, this means analyzing audiences, trends, and common use cases. For the Engineering Teams, this means building towards clearly defined intended behavior. For project managers, this means maintaining communication across the organization and being empowered to prioritize the most essential pieces of work sprint after sprint.
While practicing Agile to the letter of the Manifesto may not be everyone’s silver bullet solution, it’s a strong reminder that we must move with the industry and be adaptive regardless of how the methodology itself is interpreted. When we move slower than the technology, we run the risk of losing the greatest competitive advantage we can offer customers: the ability to stay ahead. At Crowdskout, the drive to offer a consistently better product through iterative planning and development helps us stay agile. If you’re finding yourself playing catch up, I encourage you to take the leap, embrace the change, get collaborative, and get Agile!