Are We Ready for Agile – And Are We Following the Money?

Steve KitchingAt a recent conference, one of the overriding themes was that although organisations believe that implementing Agile is a good idea, they are concerned about how they would do it and if they are really ready.

In truth, to implement Agile successfully, the whole organisation has to adjust with the approach and be prepared for the changes it requires.

For example, senior management needs to understand that the objective of Agile isn’t to deliver every software change, but to deliver the most important changes – those with the greatest business value. This requires collaboration between IT and the business. Ultimately, IT must work with the business to follow the money!

You often hear that only the development team is going Agile, but this is inaccurate. There is also a shift in the role of the business owner. Their empowerment to control the backlog is a huge benefit to the organisation. Mishandled, this is the one factor that makes an Agile implementation a failure. Without the business owner, the development team doesn’t have the authority to determine the relative importance of the deliverables or effectively groom the backlog.

Organisations also have to manage their own expectations; during the initial trial, the effort may be very similar to Waterfall as teams adjust to the new processes. Agile is a Lean process; it helps minimise the effect of change, but it isn’t a panacea – you still need the final business vision to drive the development. If it isn’t worth doing for the expected return, then why do it!

Finally, remember that there is still a need for a business process to support Agile. DSDM is a very good framework, which enables the business to reap the benefits of Agile. You may also need to consider how to extend Agile to all of your teams; for that, we suggest the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to control multiple teams working across an implementation.

If the organisation is ready, Agile can be a huge success; if not, unfortunately the finger of blame will be pointed at the process, not the fact the organisation wasn’t prepared to reap the benefits.

As always, we’re here to help. We offer an Agile Readiness Review and a SAFe Readiness Review to help you determine if you’re ready to go Agile.

If you’re looking for help with SAFe, we suggest checking out our Leading SAFe training class, which we’re offering in Edinburgh this October.

Steve Kitching
Software Sizing and Estimation Specialist

Written by Steve Kitching at 05:00
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The Kanban Game at the Agile Business Conference

Agile Business Conference


Join Alan Cameron, DCG-SMS Managing Director, at this year's Agile Business Conference in London. The conference takes place October 6-7th, and it is focused on exploring how an organization can sustain an Agile environment, both in terms of the life of a project, as well as in reference to the culture of the organization as a whole.

This year, Alan will be taking part in the conference by leading the Kanban game. Kanban is a framework used to implement Agile - a better understanding of Kanban can (and should) lead to a more successful Agile implementation. Of course, the best way to learn and retain information is via hands-on activities - and that's where the Kanban game comes in!

Participants will play the game and encounter a series of common business challenges that need to be resolved. In the process, they will learn how to use and apply the principles of Kanban and how the framework is useful in an Agile environment.

If you're at the conference, you can join in on the game on October 7th at 10.10 and 13.35. If you're not at the conference, you can play too! We can come into your organization to lead the game and help your team to better understand Kanban, Agile and Lean. More information is available here.

We always enjoy the Agile Business Conference - it's a great atmosphere, and the presentations, workshops and sessions are always engaging and interesting. We're looking forward to the event - and we hope to see you there!

Written by Default at 05:00
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Join DCG-SMS at the Digital Transformation Conference


On June 25th, DCG-SMS is headed to the Inmarsat Conference Centre in London for UNICOM's series of co-located conferences. The schedule includes: The DevOps Summit, Next Generation Testing, Digital Transformation and Programme & Project Management.

All four conference tracks are open to all attendees, so there will definitely be something for everyone there! We're looking forward to the mix of presentations, panels and discussions. If you want to find us at the conference, the first place to look will be the exhibition hall, where we'll have a booth.

Mike Harris will also be presenting as part of the Digital Transformation track. His presentation, "A SMAC in the Face for Enterprise Software Development," will discuss how organizations need to prepare for the changes that organizations are facing due to social media, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC). He will offer some ideas for how organizations should prepare for these changes, particularly in terms of improving the flow of business value.

We hope to see you at the event! We also would encourage you to stay in touch with UNICOM (they run conferences all year) via their social media accounts, if you're interested in more information:

  • Twitter: @UNICOMSeminars
  • LinkedIn: UNICOM Seminars
  • Blog:
Written by Default at 05:00

Why are IT Project Estimates Like Electoral Polling?

Steve KitchingHere in the UK we’ve just had a general election, and as usual, the results differed from the conducted polls. For weeks, estimates of the number of seats and percentage of the votes put the results neck-and-neck for the two main parties. Now, the pundits and press are running around like headless chickens, and the expectations for the next few weeks have flown out of the window. Planned TV shows and editorials based on who would join with whom have now become confetti, as the Conservatives won an election that looked impossible for anyone to win.

The early exit poll predicted a win for the Conservative party. It was based on a blind sample at the polling stations and it seemed a little optimistic, but even that prediction (316 out of 650 seats) was exceeded in the final result of 331 seats. To be fair, the exit poll had the best and most up-to-date information and the margin of error was only 5%.

So, why is an IT project like an election? Like the polls, any estimate will be wrong; by definition, it’s an estimate, not reality. It’s impossible to consider everything that might happen on a project that could impact the real effort and duration, and the earlier you estimate, the less accurate the estimate will be because a lot of detail will be missing.

Like the polls, the estimate sets an expectation and people plan around it; the information is used to set the resources and schedules needed to deliver the project and to set commitments, both internally and with the client. The media made assumptions based on the early polls, and in IT project budgets, we also tend to put too much store in the early estimates, ignoring the margin of error. This is something we have to acknowledge and deal with as the project progresses and better information emerges.

The key is to use the best information available at the time to deliver the estimate and re-estimate as we know more. Reconcile multiple estimates and engage techniques such as parametric modelling and experienced-based estimating with historical data to deliver robust estimates and to plan with sufficient contingency and flexibility to deliver the project within the levels of expectation.

We know that any estimate will be wrong, but the error margin can be improved by repeating the exercise as new information is gathered. With perfect information you can get a perfect answer – in an election the perfect answer is when all the votes are counted, in an IT project, it’s at the point of delivery.

Steve Kitching
Software Sizing and Estimation Specialist

Written by Steve Kitching at 05:00

DCG-SMS Accepted as a G-Cloud 6 Supplier

CCS_2935_Supplier _AW_72dpi

Great news for DCG-SMS! We've been accepted as a supplier for the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) G-Cloud framework, G-Cloud 6.

We're joining as a supplier of Specialist Cloud Services (SCS), which help to manage laaS, PaaS or SaaS services. Through G-Cloud 6, we are offering the following EU-compliant services:

  • Agile JumpStart
  • Project Triage
  • Estimation on Demand
  • Project Estimation and Planning
  • Vendor Estimate Validation

The G-Cloud format was created in order to make it easier for suppliers to sell their services and for buyers to find services that best fit their needs. In order to join, suppliers are carefully evaluated by the CCS.

Public sector buyers are now able to commission services from G-Cloud 6 suppliers, including DCG-SMS, via the Digital Marketplace. More information about DCG-SMS’ suite of services is available here.

We are looking forward to working with more public organisations in the United Kingdom!


Alan Cameron
DCG-SMS, Managing Director

Written by Alan Cameron 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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