DCG Advances to Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe™) Certified Silver Partner

SAFe Silver PartnerWe're happy to announce that we have certified additional members of our team as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Program Consultants (SPC). As a result, we have advanced to Silver Partner status with Scaled Agile, Inc. (SAI), the exclusive certifying entity for the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe).

Over the past year, our SPCs have been involved in numerous SAFe training classes and client engagements, and we're more convinced than ever that the SAFe framework is the best practice for scaling Agile. We're also more aware than ever that the need to scale Agile is prevalent in many organizations, but help is often needed in order to best execute the task.

As a Silver Partner, we're looking forward to expanding our reach and helping more organizations realize and capture the value of SAFe. We have access to proven SAI materials and thought leadership, as well as training curriculums and courseware. If you're not prepared to commit to SAFe yet, we also offer a SAFe Readiness Review (to help your organization determine if (and how) SAFe would work in your specific environment).

The benefits of Agile are undeniable (when implemented properly) - we're excited to help organizations expand those benefits across their teams with the Scaled Agile Framework! If you have any questions about the framework, please do not hesitate to reach out!

Written by Default at 05:00
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The Scaled Agile Checklist

ChecklistJust because Agile is working well in one part of your organization, doesn't mean that it will work well in another. In fact, even though it's becoming increasingly popular to scale Agile, it's not always the right choice. How do you make that decision for your organization?

We can help. When it comes to scaling Agile, we're proponents of the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe™), a proven method for implementing Agile across an organization. But, SAFe won't work if your organization doesn't have a few key things in place.

Download our checklist to see if you have the 10 must-have items for a successful SAFe implementation.

Download Now.

Written by Default at 05:00
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My SPC Class Experience

Mike Harris 2014It seems like a lifetime since I took my SPC class and certification, but, looking back, it was less than a year ago! Now, I have been working in software engineering for a long time, including a period teaching it at a college in the UK. I think this entitles me to think that I do know a bit about the subject, and I read a lot to make sure that I stay on top of developments and innovations. 

However, the SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) Course changed my whole perspective on the amount of change that can be achieved in an organization. Yes, the instructors are great – experienced, thoughtful professionals – but the real value comes from the other attendees and the rich discussions about how to make SAFe work in real situations.

The introduction of Agile, mainly scrum, has been a powerful force for change, but the benefits are constrained if it can’t be scaled so that large organizations can use it. Of course, there are other options for scaling scrum, but taking a class with Scaled Agile, Inc. opens a door to a community of hardworking, thoughtful SAFe professionals, with all the diverse experiences and expertise that you might expect. Ultimately, the SPC class equips you to be a change agent for the SAFe implementation.

One final thought – the SPC certification exam is not trivial. You will be exposed to a lot of material over four days. Of course, you don’t have to take the exam, but I found it was a good incentive to listen carefully, take notes, ask questions and study in the evenings! I think I came away with a deeper understanding of SAFe and more confidence to help our clients launch Agile release trains as a result.

So why am I telling you this? Because DCG is hosting an upcoming SPC class in the Valley Forge/Philadelphia area, and we'd love for you to join us. You can find the details here.

The class is May 12-15 and you can use our discount code (DCG_SPC_PHILI_100) for a $100 discount!

Questions about the class? Feel free to contact me directly.


Mike Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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Scaling Agile Testing Using the TMMi

Tom Cagley 2014Agile methods, principles and techniques are core to how many IT organizations develop and maintain software. However, even though techniques like Test-Driven Development and scrum are widely practiced, one common complaint is that it is difficult to scale these practices. In large projects and programs, this is code for “testing gets squeezed as though it were 1999."

Scaling Agile, in general, and Agile testing, specifically, requires having a framework to help teams, stakeholders and program managers to identify what is needed to deliver quality and value. 

The Test Maturity Model integration (TMMi) is a framework for effective testing in an Agile environment. The TMMi is not prescriptive; rather, the model is outcome-focused. Using such a framework to scale helps teams and organizations to make decisions that ensure that testing is not only cost efficient but also effective. 

If you think that this framework would be useful for your organization, join me for a webinar on February 19 to learn more.

The webinar will outline the TMMi and provide a process for using environmental, technical and project context to effectively integrate testing into an Agile development environment, measuring the effectiveness of the process.

Register Now!

Tom Cagley
VP of Consulting, Certified Scrum Master, TMMi Accredited Assessor

Written by Tom Cagley 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. 

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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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"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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