CMMI EMEA: Agile Risk Management



We really enjoyed the latest conference from UNICOM and the CMMI Institute. CMMI EMEA, the ALM conference and the DevOps Summit all combined to bring together a great group of speakers, exhibitors and attendees. The synergy between the topics kept the schedule interesting - and it made it easy to pick and choose which presentations to attend based on which topics were most relevant to an individual's needs and interests.

We met a lot of people at our booth in the exhibition hall (thanks for stopping by!), and we had a great turnout for Tom Cagley's presentation, Agile Risk Management, which was part of the CMMI track of the conference.

What was it all about? Tom's presentation discussed that fact that Agile techniques have not magically erased risk from software projects (we all wish!).

However, Agile is inherently less risky, assuming you actually implement and practice Agile techniques. Tom spoke about how to combine Agile and CMMI-based risk management techniques in order to increase the robustness of an Agile implementation and mitigate risk. Interested? Download it! That's right, we know not everyone could attend the conference, so we're offering up his presentation for download.

Download it Now!

This presentation is available to download here.

Contact Tom!

Questions or comments? Need more information? Contact Tom directly for guidance - or just to chat!

Phone: (440) 668-5717

Written by Default at 05:00
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Getting a Grip on Agile Software Contracts

The premise of Agile software development is incremental change. This means that you could be managing a vendor program or service where you ask for one thing at the beginning of the engagement and the deliverable at the end is significantly different – and you’re okay with that!

The problem with this evolution is that legal departments and auditors hate it – it’s hard to account for a project that is continually changing! As a result, you’re probably struggling to write manageable and auditable performance-based contracts that can accommodate Agile software development. 

We can help. Join us for a webinar that will show you how you can capture flexible contract terms in such a way that they can be accessible by all participants and auditable on demand.

For example, if you’re wrestling with project burndown rates and having problems tracking the productivity of vendors and their performance against SLAs, you are not alone. The major issue we often see is program owners who obsess over how to get a true sense of whether they are a quarter, a third, or 9/10 complete in terms of their project deliverable. They have related issues such as:

  • What’s the best option for harnessing change whilst retaining IT governance?
  • How can I monitor and control multiple development teams, especially if many are 3rd parties?
  • Why is the defect backlog increasing and/or being ignored?
  • What financial incentives/penalties can be best leveraged with vendors?
  • How do I give my development teams the freedom to innovate while keeping a keen eye on the deliverable, timeline, and cost?
  • Where do I stand contractually on all of this?

Don’t worry – you’re going to get some answers. We’ll be covering these issues and a whole lot more in the webinar. Register now to join us on Tuesday, April 21st at 11:30 EST/ 16:30 BST for “Getting a Grip on Agile Software Contracts.”

Register Now.

Written by Default at 05:00
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Agile Transformation of the Organization – A New Year’s Resolution

Lightbulb MomentMany of us have experienced the refreshing and self-reinforcing flow of benefits from introducing Agile to our software development organization through scrum. As I write this, I am smiling at the memory of light bulbs going off in some of our clients’ heads as they realized how scrum can cut through the ambiguity surrounding many traditional projects to provide a clear, frequently renewed, focus on value delivery and customer satisfaction. 

 Of course, in many instances that fresh feeling has turned into a little bit of a headache as we struggle with the challenges of scaling Agile. This really shouldn’t be too much of a struggle because we now have approaches such as the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFeTM) and DSDM.  But, the headache comes from the biggest challenge associated with implementing enterprise Agile for software development – the need to change the organization outside of software development. 

Something as fundamental to scrum as daily builds requires a significant rethink in some organizations. I can remember, on one of my early scrum implementations, being told that the IT teams required three weeks’ notice to set up the hardware for a new test environment.  Important though it is, this tactical level change is not what I am referring to in this article.

The key to successfully implementing enterprise Agile is to implement strategic change. Using SAFe as an example, at the team level, the scrum teams work broadly, as they always have, with minimal impact on the rest of the organization. A benefit and constraint with scrum is that it is possible to (and many organizations do) implement it almost in a “black box” that neither impacts nor influences the rest of the organization. But as soon as you recognize the need for and introduce the program and portfolio levels of SAFe, Agile, scrum and, even software development now require changes to the way the overarching organization arranges, prioritizes and funds its work. 

For example, the PMO and the finance department both need to transform their processes to enable the establishment, operation and eventual shut down of Agile Release Trains. HR needs to transform its approach to training, mentoring and career progression to meet the needs of staff placed in new roles and cycling through different roles. 

SAFe -Big -Pic -2.5-1200-x -869

How Scrum Teams Can Help Facilitate Organizational Change

So, how can the scrum teams in software development help their organizations to make these changes? By sharing and fostering the use of scrum techniques throughout the organization. Who better to coach the teams being transformed in the rest of the organization than the software scrum teams themselves? 

Do all elements of scrum need to be applied to all transformations outside software development? No. Product Backlogs (or maybe Transformation Backlogs?), Sprints, Product Owners (or maybe Transformation Owners?), Scrum Teams, Sprint Reviews and Sprint Planning Meetings are all pretty much essential. Daily Standups can be overkill on more strategic initiatives, but certainly some sort of progress and impediment reporting is appropriate on a regular schedule during the Sprint (weekly on a 4-week Sprint works well). Scrum Masters may also be a less important role and should perhaps be combined with the Product Owner, depending on the team.

For us here at DCG, this is no theoretical proposal. We use scrum techniques ourselves for implementing strategic initiatives. And, we use scrum in our consulting contracts to help our clients manage their own transformations. For example, for a client needing to introduce improved IT governance and measurement, we used an Agile approach to help the senior management team identify and prioritize a Program Backlog. We were happy when they concluded that the value delivered in the first six transformation Sprints was sufficient and that no further Sprints were needed.

If you’re curious about how to apply scrum as a framework for organizational change, start with our article, “How To: Enable Enterprise Agile Throughout the Organization.”

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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What's Your Most Important Software Risk?

AlanThroughout the nearly 30 years I have been in IT, risk management has been talked about and shown to be vital; yet, I think that the corporate focus follows the money too much.

Whether it’s client CIOs or supplier account managers, when I suggest that they should focus on software development risk, I get patronising comments about focussing on a less important part of clients’ spend. Typically I hear that 90% of software spend is on making sure that the current services are kept alive and functioning, so risk in software development is not important. After all, it doesn’t threaten the existence of the company to-day.

Existentially that assertion is not true. Just to-day I read about two UK supermarkets struggling to cope with the volume of orders, their websites crashing as a result. Ignoring the 10% is ignoring what is effectively the activity that primes the business pump.

My view is that such failures can arise when corners are cut in software development. For example, stress testing is not carried out sufficiently and, when loads exceed the system capacity, trouble ensues. Poor risk management, or worse, ignoring risks that can’t be managed because there’s not much money at stake, contributes to these issues.

Agile is our mantra to-day, and it’s one I subscribe to in a big way. It enables fast business change so clients are able to keep ahead of the competition by introducing unique services as differentiators.  The speed to change also increases the risk of failure. Risk management of that 10% of your service spend becomes more, not less, important.

Strategic, Agile risk management must focus on the front-end of the service flow – development. Assessing risk management is a key part of our Project Triage Solution, where we aim to assist you from commissioning to delivery by giving you an independent assessment of the state of your project.

Ignore that 10% at your peril. 

Here’s to a disaster free 2015.

Alan Cameron
DCG-SMS Managing Director

Written by Alan Cameron at 05:00
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The Better Agile and Software Development Conference East

SAFe Poster -Bouncing Ball V2We're happy to share that November 9-14 we'll be in Orlando, FL for the Better Agile and Software Development Conference East!

We attend this conference every year - and it just seems to keep improving. It's always a great way to see what topics are at the top of the industry's mind and what could potentially be a trend for 2015.

We'll be located at booth #23 during the event's exhibition hours on November 12-13, but you'll also see us around the conference presentations and tutorials.

And don't miss Tony Timbol's industry technical presentation, "Is the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFeTM) a Good Fit For My Organization?,” on November 13 at 10:00am. Attendees interested in more information about SAFe can pick up additional materials at the DCG booth.

Can't make it to the conference? Learn more about our Agile & SAFe offerings here.

Written by Default at 05:00
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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