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What is Agile Project Management and Its Phases?

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What is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management is an adaptive method of product development. It takes into account the iterative and incremental approaches of developing and delivering products to the customer. The focus of agile project management is on value creation and customer centricity. The other important aspects of agile project management are: its responsive nature to the changing requirements, its progressive outlook toward software planning, and leadership shift from command & control to servant leadership.

The scope of some of the projects is well-defined and certain. The traditional or waterfall model of managing the projects is used in such scenarios. The scope of some of the projects is uncertain, ambiguous, volatile and complex. The very nature of agile project management makes it complimentary to execute such uncertain projects. Project Management is a vast subject and involves many new concepts, processes, and tools. This PMP Certification Training Program involves comprehensive class activities based on real-life scenarios to help you understand the concepts well so that you can answer the PMP exam questions well as well as use these in your job.

5 Phases In Agile project management

Envision

This phase can be considered equivalent to the initiating process group in traditional project management. It helps create vision for the project. The vision focuses on the customers and the stakeholders involved in the project. It covers the why, what, how, and who of the project. It defines the product vision, scope, constraints, delivery methodology, and the stakeholders. 

Speculate

This phase can be considered equivalent to the planning process group in traditional project management. This phase expands the envision phase and encourages brainstorming, critical thinking, creative thinking, and collaboration to plan the execution of the project. It translates the product vision into product roadmap, to release level planning and iteration level planning. It determines the workload, product features, estimation, risks, and delivery. 

Explore

This phase can be considered equivalent to the executing process group in traditional project management. It focuses on following the release/iteration plan (as prepared in the previous phase 2 called Speculate) and delivering project features; more specifically delivering potentially shippable products. 

Adapt

This phase can be considered equivalent to the monitoring & controlling process group in traditional project management. This phase focuses on inspection, supervising, modifications, changes, and corrections in the project lifecycle.  The phases Speculate, Explore and Adapt are regularly revisited in order to improve the product delivery and project execution in each and every iteration. This means reviewing actual results versus planned results. This phase covers the improvements needed which are integrated into the next iteration. 

Close

This phase can be considered equivalent to the Closure Process Group in traditional project management. Per the definition of a project given in PMBOK, it has a definite start and a definite end. The expectations of the customers are set at the onset of the project about the endpoint of the project. Not doing so would result in the perception issues among the customers which would result in unnecessary fall-outs. Doing it right, would help celebrate the success of the project. However, before the team ends the project, ensure to analyze all the key findings, knowledge gathered, and lessons learned and pass these along to the next team so that they can benefit.

Agile Mindset & Manifesto:

The agile project management methodologies like Extreme Programming, SCRUM, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development, Pragmatic Programming, were already existing before the agile movement was formalized in 2001 with the publication of the agile manifesto for agile software development.

The original seventeen authors signed a manifesto which contained 4 values and 12 principles. The manifesto stated that:

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Four Values

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

Twelve Principles

  1. The highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months
  4. Stakeholders and developers must collaborate on a daily basis
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. Face-to-face meetings are deemed the most efficient and effective format for project success
  7. A final working product is the ultimate measure of progress
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility
  10. Simplicity, maximizing the work not done, is an essential element
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly

As per agile practice guide of PMI, agile is a mindset defined by values, guided by principles, and manifested through many different practices.

Characteristics of Agile Life Cycle for product development

The creation of agile manifesto started to simply product development in software industry. However, the characteristics of agile methodologies have made its impact on almost all the industries. The agile way of managing projects is not restricted to software industry only. It is critical to understand that the following characteristics are intrinsic to all kinds of projects, whether they follow predictive or agile (adaptive) life cycles. The focus here is on the attributes specific to the project characteristics managed in agile manner. These characteristics and their attributes are mentioned below.

  • Requirements: The projects which are managed in an agile manner have an intrinsic characteristic of dynamism. The requirements and eventually the scope change occur often and to incorporate such kind of changes, agile and adaptive methodologies are adopted.
  • Activities: One of the other most important characteristics of agile project management that the activities are repeated until near perfect solution is achieved. This can be referred to as iterative approach of creating product.
  • Delivery: The delivery of products/features in agile methodology is done frequently with incremental deliveries. This delivery is potentially shippable product. This is related to incremental way of delivering product.
  • Goal: The goal of agile project management is to deliver value to the customers via frequent delivery by incorporating early feedback.

In general, agile life cycle uses the project characteristics of both iterative and incremental life cycles, i.e., the project team iterate to create the product incrementally. This ensures that the team gets the visibility of the project and gain early feedback from the customer. 

Agile Roles

There are three major roles defined in the agile way of managing projects.

  1. Cross Functional Team members: The cross functional teams are also called as the development teams and are the most critical. Agile teams comprise dedicated team members. Cross functional teams consist of team members with all the skills necessary to produce a working product. The cross functional development teams consist of professionals who deliver potentially releasable product in time-boxed frame. They deliver finished work in the shortest possible time, with higher quality, without external dependencies. The teams are mostly collocated or the team members have the ability to manage any challenges based on location. The teams consist of generalists and specialists and usually work in a stable environment. Agile teams are self-organizing and they themselves decide how to best accomplish their work for each sprint. 
  1. Scrum Master: This role can also be associated with the role of servant leader. This can also be called a project manager, team lead, team coach, team facilitator, or process facilitator. The basic and foremost responsibility of this role is to remove impediments, blockers and barriers during the project execution. This ensures that the sprint stays on track by monitoring progress and facilitating meetings. The servant leaders become teams’ advocate and help them communicate with the stakeholders. All agile teams need servant leadership on the team. People need time to build their servant leadership skills of facilitation, coaching, and impediment removal. 
  1. Product owner: The product owner represents the voice of customers or users. She helps define the product roadmap, backlog, release plans and goals of each iteration. She ranks the work based on the business value of the features and product. She acts like a lighthouse for guiding the direction of the product. She works with the teams daily by providing feedback and direction of future releases. Sometimes, she requests help from people with deep domain expertise, such as architects, or deep customer expertise, such as product managers. Product owners need to be trained on how to organize and manage the flow of work through the team.

Common Agile Ceremonies

The ceremonies in agile project management methodologies are events. Some of these events are planning-based and some of them are feedback-based events. The ceremonies are:

  1. Backlog Preparation: An ordered list of work in agile methodology is called as the backlog. This backlog is presented in story form so that the teams can understand it. The backlog preparation takes the form of progressive elaboration and in this agile way of managing project, there is no need to create all of the stories for the entire project before the work starts—only enough to understand the first release. Product owners might produce a product roadmap to show the anticipated sequence of deliverables over time. The product owner replans the roadmap based on what the team produces. The backlog preparation is one of the layers of the Agile Planning Onion; it is the third layer in the onion. In this, the strategy forms the topmost layer, followed by portfolio, product, release, iteration and daily.
  1. Backlog Refinement: The product owner works with the team to prepare some stories for upcoming iteration in the middle of the iteration. The reason for such meetings is to refine enough stories so the team understands these stories and compare them with other stories in the backlog. These meetings help the team understand the potential challenges or problems in the story. The teams can use spike to understand the risk.  There is no consensus on how long the refinement should be.
  1. Daily Stand-ups: The ultimate goal of daily stand-up meetings is to ensure that all the members of the team are on the same understanding of the project and its progress. The members use this meeting to commit to each other, share problems, and ensure a smooth workflow. This meeting is timeboxed for no longer than 15 minutes. During this meeting, everyone answers the following questions:
  • What did I complete since the last stand-up?
  • What am I planning to complete between now and the next stand-up?
  • What are my impediments (or risks or problems)?

It is the responsibility of the process owner to not let the daily stand-up meetings become status meetings. Besides this, let this meeting not become a problem solving event.

  1. Demonstrations/Reviews: This ceremony helps periodically demonstrate the working product to the customer. This event helps the team gain early feedback on the features (in the form of user stories) of the product. Since the product owner represents the voice of customers or uses, it is her responsibility to check the demonstration and either accept or reject the user stories. As a general guideline, demonstrations happen at least once every 2 weeks. Demonstrations help the teams to set in the right direction if they are progressing in the wrong direction. This becomes a basic component of agile projects (incremental delivery based on iteration/flow). The ceremony of demonstration/review refers to the principle # 7 of Agile Manifesto.
  1. Retrospectives: Principle # 12 of Agile Manifesto is: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.” Post demonstration/review ceremony, the iteration asks for a meeting which would help team understand the improvement areas, correction areas, and the behaviours, actions and work to keep for the next iterations. In general, the team looks back to learn, contemplate, improve and adapt to the best practices. Teams need to learn about the product and/or process. The meeting is all about looking at the qualitative (people’s feelings) data and quantitative (measurements) data to uncover the root causes, developing contingencies, mitigation strategies, and action plans.

Conclusion

The management of projects in agile manner reflects non-traditional ways of executing projects. It embodies the 4 values and 12 principles as laid down in the agile manifesto. The 5 ceremonies compliment the effective and efficient ways of delivering values to the stakeholders which in turn takes the holistic approach of 5 phases of agile project management.

About The Author

Techcanvass is an Information Technology certifications training Organization for professionals. It offers internationally recognized certifications in the fields of Project Management and Business Analysis. It is a premier Authorized training partner (ATP) of Project Management Institute (PMI), USA and a premier Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) of International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), Canada. Founded by IT professionals, Techcanvass is committed to making learning a more structured, practical and goal-oriented exercise. We also provide consulting services in the fields of Project management and Business Analysis.

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Roth IRA: A Guide To The Benefits & Features

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A Roth IRA, or Individual Retirement Account, has been a retirement savings vehicle for US taxpayers since 1998. It has many benefits and features you’ll want to be familiar with before entering one.

This guide will discuss the ins and outs of Roth IRAs in hopes that you can make an informed decision on whether or not it is right for you.

What Is A Roth IRA?

It is a type of individual retirement account (IRA) set up by a person or business on behalf of another individual or company.

Contributions are made after-tax, and distributions are tax-free if you meet certain conditions.

The funds go into an account managed by an investment firm, which handles the investments and investing decisions on behalf of each investor’s Roth IRA account.

Each year, the IRS sets contribution limits (for both traditional and Roth IRAs) that determine how much you can invest each year into your accounts before they apply taxes to your earnings.

These limits vary depending on your age and income level; if you’re interested in contributing more than the limits allow, there are ways to increase contributions beyond those caps.

For Roth IRAs, the contribution limits are much higher than those for traditional IRAs and 401(k)s. That is because they represent an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to save for retirement. 

That goes especially for those who do not have the means to contribute to a Roth IRA. That limit also applies to other retirement accounts.

How Does It Work?

A Roth IRA works like any other investment account.

You contribute money and then let it grow over time until you need it for retirement.

The main difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA is how much you earn goes toward earning interest on investments versus paying taxes on those earnings each year.

Roth IRA Contribution Limits

Roth IRA contribution limits vary depending on age, income, and whether you’re married or single.

In 2019, the maximum contribution limit for most people was $6,000 per year, although an additional catch-up contribution is allowed for those 50 years old or older.

If you’re married and filing jointly, the limit is $12,000. You can make contributions to your account at any point during the year; keep track of how much you’ve contributed so that you don’t exceed the maximum amount for that tax year.

You can also make partial contributions throughout the year. For example, if you want to contribute $2,000 in January and another $4,000 in July, that’s fine as long as your total contribution doesn’t exceed $6,000 ($7,000 if you’re 50 or older).

Contributions made after age 70½ are called “qualified distributions” and thus not subject to income tax or early withdrawal penalties (although they will be subject to regular income tax).

Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)

One of the essential features of a Roth IRA is that you don’t have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs).

You must withdraw these minimum amounts from your IRA or 401(k) account each year after age 70½ to avoid penalties.

With a traditional IRA or 401(k) account, you must start taking RMDs at age 70½, but with a Roth IRA, you can leave your money in history forever and never take out any money.

The only requirement is that if you’ve had your account open for at least five years and can withdraw up to $10,000 as a first-time homebuyer without paying taxes, you can use this rule once every two years during retirement.

This can be helpful if an unexpected expense arises or you need extra money for an emergency fund.

How To Open or Start A Roth IRA?

You open a Roth IRA with a financial institution, such as a bank or brokerage firm.

You can contribute up to $5,500 annually in 2019 (or $6,000 if you’re 50 or older), but income restrictions exist on who can contribute. 

Contributions may be made directly by the individual or through payroll deduction.

The earnings on your investments grow tax-free until distributions are taken during retirement.

Distributions are taxed as ordinary income at ordinary rates.

So if you contribute $5,500 each year for 40 years and earn 8 per cent per year (which is about average for stocks), your investments would total about $1 million by the time you retire.

If you withdraw that money at age 65, they will tax it as ordinary income at ordinary rates when withdrawn — which could be about half of what you invested.

What Type Of Money Can You Contribute?

The following are examples of what type of money you can contribute to a Roth IRA:

Earned income

This includes wages and salaries, net self-employment earnings, and farm income. It also includes alimony and child support payments if they are taxable to you.

Unearned income

This includes interest on savings accounts and certificates of deposit, dividends on stocks; rental income; capital gains from the sale of stocks or mutual funds; pension payments; Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, and other sources.

You must have earned income to contribute to a Roth IRA for the year you want to contribute (unless you are married and filing jointly).

When Can You Withdraw From A Roth IRA?

If you have a Roth account and want to get the money out of it penalty-free when you are older, you can do so under certain conditions.

For example, if you’re at least 59½ years old when you take money out of your Roth IRA or use the distribution to buy, build or rebuild your first home (up to a lifetime maximum of $10,000), there are no taxes on the amount distributed.

Also, after a disability prevents you from working for at least 60 days and continues for at least six months, you may be able to take out money without paying income taxes.

And finally, if someone inherits an inherited Roth IRA, they will get the money after that person dies.

If you have a retirement account, you must wait five years before withdrawing any of its funds.

If you withdraw the money before the five years, you will be subject to a 10% penalty on top of any applicable taxes.

If you are younger than 59½, you can avoid this penalty if you use the money to buy your first home or if you have a disability, die or use the withdrawal for qualified education expenses.

There are exceptions if you need to take money from your Roth account.

You can take out the money for medical bills that are more than 10% of what you make in a year without having to pay taxes or penalties on the money.

You might need to pay for medical insurance if you have lost your job.

You can also take out money for qualified higher-education expenses.

That would include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance.

Final Thoughts

The final decision to go with a Roth IRA remains up to you. However, the Roth IRA offers some tangible benefits that make it stand out from the rest in terms of compensation.

If your earnings are likely to be above average in a year or two, then Roth is probably a great choice.

Also, suppose you can avoid any nasty surprises that cause you to need access to your savings before retirement age. In that case, the Roth IRA has a significant advantage over other plans.

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Popular Crypto Telegram Groups

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One of the finest places to remain informed about the newest cryptocurrency trends and which altcoins are booming is Telegram which is one of the best resources along with Twitter and YouTube.

Popular Reddit communities and even Tiktok influencers talk about cryptocurrency. A crypto project frequently maintains an online presence on a number of social media platforms, one of which is a Telegram group.

It is possible to create a Telegram group where everyone may freely speak or a one-way Telegram channel where individuals can only subscribe to a feed of updates (or both). Then, to reduce spam, Telegram users are designated as moderators and admins.

Current Top Crypto Telegram Groups

But which Telegram channels for cryptography are the finest in 2022? The top three bitcoin ask me anything and channels in recent months have been compiled by our cryptocurrency market research team.

Good Block

As its native token LBLOCK experienced a 65x run in one month in 2022 following the introduction of their cryptocurrency giveaway app, Lucky Block has been trending on the cryptocurrency Reddit.

The coin was covered by financial media ranging from Nasdaq.com to Yahoo Finance. Investors who are interested have been following its crypto Telegram group.

Investors may contact the team and developers of all major altcoins via the Telegram community. The CEO of Lucky Block frequently hosts followers-only AMA (ask me anything) events on TG.

Additionally, there is a second one-way channel for news regarding Lucky Block NFTs and a separate chat group for Lucky Block support; the latter is a better place to seek for assistance because the main group, which has over 44k members, has a lot of posts.

For the most recent news and tutorials, including instructions on how to connect to NFT Launchpad via Metalmark, check the pinned messages. Like pinned tweets on Twitter, ICOspeaks news messages can be pinned.

Predict Prices with Accuracy

They publish trade setups and predict prices with accuracy for both high-volume altcoins and the majors. The official group should always be followed because there are a lot of phonies on Telegram with identical handles. They offer a VIP Telegram as a premium service in addition to a free crypto Telegram channel. A curated list covering all cryptocurrency websites on the internet covers the most recent cryptocurrency news developments that may have an impact on the market. So, he ranks among the top Crypto Telegram channels in our opinion.

The most recent link, for instance, reads “SEC accepts Teucrium Bitcoin Futures fund.” was a reference to remarks made on cryptocurrency and stable coins by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Crypto-Focused Telegram

There are several crypto-focused Telegram news channels, but after following Unfolded for a time, we found it to be one of the greatest sources for headline-relevant crypto news alerts on Telegram. One of the most well-liked crypto Telegram channels is his.

Check the @ handle matches after getting the link from the official website, Twitter account, first organic Google result, etc. Additionally, look at the number of followers, however even that can be fabricated using bot followers. Likewise, for cryptocurrency-related Twitter profiles.

Never respond to DMs from admins since they will never offer to trade for you, inform you of a special promotion, or inform you of a crypto airdrop. They would just make a post about it in the group and respond to your inquiries there (scammers are more likely to target you if you ask a question). Their @ account will be slightly different, but they’ll use the same profile picture and name as the official organization. They alone are special.

Install Telegram

As some Telegram groups are blocked and hidden if downloaded from the App Store, we also advise downloading Telegram through the official website. Apple occasionally bans cryptocurrency material.

Telegram can also be viewed online without being downloaded to a computer or mobile device. Once you sign up for a Telegram account, change the settings so that nobody else may message you and that only your contacts can see your phone number. The greatest crypto Telegram groups, like Lucky Block and Crypto Signals, are then easily accessible to you.

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Knowing How to Buy Energy

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In today’s unstable economic environment, organizations of all sizes are looking for ways to control and reduce costs for specialized tasks and noncore services, like cleaning, landscaping, and energy.

Many businesses might be losing out on energy savings opportunities. 

Twenty-five years ago, if you didn’t like the prices your local utility was charging for electricity and natural gas, you might have had no other options. 

Many U.S. states and Canadian provinces now have energy market structures that encourage electricity and natural gas retail competition due to the deregulation of the energy sector. This implies that there may be other options besides your local utility.

In contrast to the local utility, most retail energy suppliers in deregulated energy markets provide a wide range of options, including fixed pricing, index pricing, and energy efficiency and management strategies.

Energy purchasing merits your attention because it makes up about 30% or more of the annual operating budget of a typical office building. 

Businesses of all sizes now have the option to manage their energy budgets by selecting from a wide range of suppliers, thanks to energy deregulation.

Looking for an energy provider can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to go it alone. 

You can learn about energy strategies from various sources like this found in https://businessenergycomparison.com/ and assess which suppliers will use the best energy sources and services to meet your needs and stay within your budget.

If your company operates in a deregulated energy market, you can use your energy strategy to cut costs, improve operations, and generate new revenue.  It’s time to decide what your energy strategy should include and to find out what essential qualities to look for in a supplier.

What kinds of commercial energy contracts are available?

Gas and electricity providers offer different types of contracts. To avoid overpaying for energy, you must ensure you’re on the right one.

There are five primary commercial energy contracts on the market:

Fixed Rate: This does not resolve your monthly payment total, which will change depending on how much you use. For the duration of the contract, a fixed price per unit (kWh) is charged. 

Variable rate: Unit rates are based on market activity, so that they could change for your contract.

Deemed rate: You will be put on one of these rolling, out-of-contract tariffs and must pay your supplier’s highest rates if you let your current tariff expire without switching suppliers or negotiating a new deal.

A 28-day contract is available for companies that have not switched energy providers since the deregulated market.

A rollover contract is used when no alternate has been reached before the end of your current agreement. 

The prices are among the highest offered by the supplier.

What occurs when your commercial energy contract expires?

You must compare business utilities and switch to a better deal before your commercial energy contract expires; otherwise, you’ll have an expensive out-of-contract rate.

If you are unsure of when your current contract will expire, don’t worry. Your supplier will keep in touch when the renewal window opens with an offer of a new contract. But, please don’t accept any offer until you have compared it to other agreements on the market.

Your old provider will send you a final bill and request a final meter reading if you choose to switch service providers to ensure that the account is accurate. 

You will also have a deadline for paying this last bill. 

Depending on your circumstances and supplier, you may be on a rollover over the contract or deemed rates if you haven’t negotiated a new deal.

How much energy ought your company to be consuming?

The first step in shopping in a deregulated energy market is to decide whether you are looking for electricity, natural gas, or a combination of these. 

To streamline energy management and maximize potential savings through a tailored strategy, choosing a supplier who can meet all your energy needs is effective if you are considering many options.

It would help if you also considered how important it is for your company to use renewable energy. 

This topic is becoming more critical, especially for businesses that cater to consumers, academic institutions, and companies that want to show that they care about the environment.

How to contrast prices and choose a better offer

One quick phone call to our energy experts is all it takes for us to compare and then enter the energy market to find a deal that’s right for your business. MoneySuperMarket eliminates the hassle of comparing commercial energy contracts, rather than you calling around every supplier to find a great deal on gas and electricity.

Once we have more information about your company’s energy requirements, we can search the entire energy market for a deal that will work best for you. 

It helps if you can let us know the following so that we can publish more accurate quotes:

  • Your current gas and electricity suppliers’ name.
  • Your tariffs’ name and end dates
  • What you supply
  • How much electricity and gas your company uses

Once you’ve selected the offer that best suits your company, we’ll set up your new contracts with your new suppliers. We can then provide you with several quotes from various suppliers.

There shouldn’t be any disruption to your electricity supply, not even on the switchover day. Your new supplier will figure this out with your current supplier and let you know the switching date. The switch should take about six weeks. 

There won’t need to be any drilling or digging at your place of business because gas and electricity will pass through the already-existing pipes and cables.

Take a final meter reading on your old supplier so they can send you your final bill and collect any money you may still owe them after the switch is complete.

Conclusion

Energy providers should provide extra services besides energy procurement that can aid you in achieving your objectives.

Businesses looking to reduce their electricity costs might want to think about a load management program like demand response, which is made to help reduce grid demand during peak hours. 

Demand response benefits your company’s resolve to reduce energy use during times of high demand and when the program administrator or local utility requests it. 

Participating businesses may receive more payments when they are asked to reduce consumption. Depending on the program rules, participating companies are compensated quarterly or monthly for agreeing to reduce consumption by a certain amount.

You can frequently get help from a reliable energy provider with the preparation and implementation of your participation in demand response programs. 

They can assist you in determining whether your company satisfies the program’s requirements and get ready to scale back if necessary so you can take advantage of the program’s potential financial rewards. 

In addition to financial gains, you might also be able to reduce your overall energy consumption and reduce your energy costs.

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