Everything you want to know about Agile

Everything you want to know about Agile: How to get Agile results in a less-than-agile organization

JAMIE LYNN COOKE
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: IT Governance Publishing
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hh467
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  • Book Info
    Everything you want to know about Agile
    Book Description:

    Everything you want to know about Agile comprehensively addresses the issues that IT departments face when they try to implement Agile approaches within the constraints of their traditional organizations, including existing project frameworks, budgeting structures, contracts and corporate reporting. It is an essential resource for IT departments that want to deliver successful Agile results, even in the most challenging environments.

    eISBN: 978-1-84928-324-3
    Subjects: Management & Organizational Behavior, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. DEDICATION
    (pp. 5-5)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. 6-9)
    Chris Evans

    On a recent trip to the airport to catch a plane for my yearly vacation, I decided to use my new GPS with live traffic updates to plan the journey. Approximately halfway into the trip, the device alerted me to a potential problem and immediately recalculated a route, which got us to the airport with only a small delay of 10 minutes.

    While we were sitting in the airport, we heard that the problem we had avoided was a multi-car accident on the highway, which resulted in airport traffic being delayed by over an hour, and several people missing their...

  4. PREFACE
    (pp. 10-14)
  5. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    (pp. 15-16)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. 17-18)
  7. Table of Contents
    (pp. 19-22)
  8. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 23-28)

    TheHarvard Business Journalrecently advised that the successful delivery of IT initiatives is a joint responsibility between the people who develop solutions and the business areas that require those solutions12:

    “Success requires a sustained commitment for the managers who will use and benefit from the initiative, not just IT.”

    Agile approaches are built around the very concept of collaborative work between IT staff and business areas; however, Agile takes the idea further by advocating that theonlyway to truly know whether IT initiatives are consistently meeting business requirements is toactively involvethe business area (the “customer”) in...

  9. CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS AGILE?
    (pp. 29-31)

    “Agile” is a collective term for methodologies (and practices) that have emerged over the past two decades to increase the relevance, quality, flexibility and business value of software solutions. Theseadaptive managementapproaches are specifically intended to address the problems that have historically plagued software development and service delivery activities in the IT industry – including budget overruns, missed deadlines, low-quality outputs, and dissatisfied users.

    Although there is a broad range of Agile methodologies in the IT industry – from software development and project delivery approaches to strategies for software maintenance – all Agile methodologies share the same basic objectives:...

  10. CHAPTER 2: A FIVE-MINUTE HISTORY OF AGILE
    (pp. 32-36)

    In the 1990s, the IT industry was plagued by the remarkably high failure rate of software development projects: projects that became notorious for their missed deadlines, substantially overrun budgets, faulty deliverables and dissatisfied customers. A handful of thought leaders in the industry believed that these IT project failures could be attributed to three key factors: over-planning, insufficient communication and “all-at-once” delivery.

    IT software projects traditionally began with the production of extensive upfront documentation, which included project plans, functional requirements, system design specifications and technical architectural designs. These documents – which often took months to produce (and even longer to get...

  11. CHAPTER 3: THE CORE BUSINESS BENEFITS OF AGILE
    (pp. 37-43)

    IT directors are in a unique position to align the day-to-day work that is done by their staff with the overarching strategic objectives and guidelines of the organization. This combined role can often be a balancing act of juggling executive demands along with the practical challenges of delivering effective technology solutions. However, it also provides an opportunity for IT directors todoublethe benefits that they can receive from the use of Agile approaches in their department by leveraging both thestrategicandtacticaladvantages that they deliver.

    At astrategiclevel, Agile benefits include:

    Ongoing risk management: This is...

  12. CHAPTER 4: COMMON AGILE METHODOLOGIES AT A GLANCE
    (pp. 44-64)

    Scrum is an iterative project management methodology that is most commonly used for Agile software development projects, but is suitable for any project-based work. Scrum provides a framework for business areas to identify and prioritize work required, and for project teams to commit to the subset of priority items they believe can be delivered in each two- to four-week iteration (or “sprint”).

    Scrum requires the nomination of resources to fulfill key roles in the project, including:

    The Product Owner: who represents the needs of the business and is responsible for documenting and prioritizing high-level requirements as input into ongoing planning...

  13. CHAPTER 5: WHO USES AGILE?
    (pp. 65-66)

    As identified inChapter 1: What is Agile?, Agile methodologies are used by thousands of organizations worldwide – including Bankwest, Nokia Siemens Networks, Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, SunCorp and BT – to produce high business-value outcomes in the delivery of their software solutions. Agile methodologies have been equally successful in private and public sector organizations of all sizes, particularly throughout the United States and Europe.

    As an example, one of the most common Agile methodologies, Scrum, is used by a number of diverse organizations worldwide, including Adobe, Barclays Global Investors, the BBC’s New Media Division, BellSouth, Bose, Capital One®, GE, Google,...

  14. CHAPTER 6: WHY DON’T MORE ORGANIZATIONS USE AGILE?
    (pp. 67-74)

    As identified in the previous chapter, there are numerous organizations worldwide that have used – and that continue to use – Agile approaches to successfully deliver their IT outcomes. Despite their strong and vocal support of Agile approaches, however, there are still some hurdles in the more widespread adoption of Agile in the broader IT community. These include:

    Over the past two decades, the Agile community has grown from a handful of passionate advocates to a worldwide presence in thousands of organizations. There are numerous books, websites, industry forums, conferences and training courses dedicated to the establishment, management and refinement...

  15. CHAPTER 7: IS AGILE RIGHT FOR MY DEPARTMENT?
    (pp. 75-82)

    The previous chapters provided you with information on the benefits that implementing Agile could provide to your department, described a range of Agile approaches that organizations use, and identified the prevalence of Agile approaches in organizations worldwide. All of this information is intended to give you the background knowledge to make an informed decision as to whether Agile approaches are a good match for the specific needs of your department.

    Although the low overhead of implementing Agile methodologies may make it tempting for your department to dive right in and start using these approaches, it would be a good idea...

  16. CHAPTER 8: DELIVERING AGILE
    (pp. 83-91)

    There is no one formula for successfully introducing Agile approaches within an IT department. Historically, some organizations have preferred to start by trialing Agile approaches on a small set of projects – in order to see how effective they are – and then expand their use of Agile approaches as staff became more comfortable with Agile practices, such as incremental planning or working directly with the customer. Decision makers in a handful of organizations, including the forward-thinking senior executive of BT34, have jump-started the adoption process by instituting a top-down mandate for using Agile approaches across the IT department, with...

  17. CHAPTER 9: SELECTING THE RIGHT AGILE APPROACH FOR YOUR NEEDS
    (pp. 92-96)

    If you have determined that the nature of your department is reasonably suited to Agile approaches36– and you have identified the projects where you want to begin using Agile approaches – then the next challenge is in decidingwhichof these approaches is best suited to the specific demands of your selected projects.

    Chapter 4: Common Agile Methodologies at a Glanceidentified a number of Agile methodologies that have been successfully used in the IT industry over the past 20 years. Some of these approaches are used more commonly than others, most notably Scrum and XP (individually or combined)....

  18. CHAPTER 10: USING AGILE TOOLS
    (pp. 97-115)

    For many organizations, status reporting is anen masseactivity, generally allocated to time-based increments where employees stop what they are doing in order to provide management with a snapshot of their work progress (e.g. monthly status updates). This monthly reporting cycle is intended to provide frequent enough updates to keep management aware of the status of the work in their area – but without overloading the team with reporting activities (or the manager with paperwork to review). It creates a paper productivity trail where managers take action based on theappearanceof productivity provided in these reports – and...

  19. CHAPTER 11: MEASURING AGILE SUCCESS
    (pp. 116-124)

    Agile approaches work on the basis that the best way for the department to monitor the progress of work isnotto receive endless status reports from the project team, but to review the fully functional, fully tested capabilities delivered by the team in each iteration (i.e. thetangible outputsof the team’s work) as the primary measure of progress. This is because status reports are often time-consuming, generally sanitized for management review and can be designed to give the reader of the report a false sense of security that things are progressing on track. Tangible outputs, on the other...

  20. CHAPTER 12: ALIGNING AGILE WITH YOUR CORPORATE CULTURE
    (pp. 125-126)

    The most important factor in successful Agile adoption (and expansion) is aligning it to the culture, structures and constraints of your organization. Even the most effective Agile project work risks losing executive support if it cannot meet the overarching management, compliance and administrative structures established by the organization, which include:

    Project management frameworks (such as the PMBOK®, PRINCE2®and ITIL®)

    Corporate reporting

    Budget management

    Contract management

    Staffing procedures

    Performance metrics.

    So, unless you are in the unique position of being able to adjust your organizational structures to suit the flexibility of Agile approaches44, you will need to find a way...

  21. CHAPTER 13: MANAGING AGILE WITHIN YOUR EXISTING PROJECT FRAMEWORKS
    (pp. 127-158)

    The word “project” is a fantastically broad term that covers everything from event planning, to delivering small and large software solutions, to the construction of a new building. It is the abstract nature of this word that forces:

    Project management frameworks, such as the PMBOK®and PRINCE2®

    Process management frameworks, such as CMMI®and ITIL®, and

    Quality management frameworks

    to be high-level enough to be equally applicable to projects of all sizes across multiple industries and organizational activities. This means that these frameworks primarily focus on constraining work to meet identifiedmanagement objectives(such as time, budget and risk management),...

  22. CHAPTER 14: BUDGETING FOR AGILE WORK
    (pp. 159-165)

    Most Agile initiatives will be constrained by a budget allocation that is identified at the start of the process. Whether or not the budget is realistic, this is the amount available for the Agile team to use. So, it is critical that the department endeavors to maximize the business value that can be delivered within this constraint.

    The following presents two ideal models for managing funding for Agile work, and then identifies how departments can realistically manage their budgets when the flexibility of the Agile-specific funding model is not possible.

    In an ideal world, budget allocations for Agile work would...

  23. CHAPTER 15: REPORTING ON AGILE PROJECTS
    (pp. 166-171)

    Monitoring the business value and progress of the Agile work in your department can begin from the moment each project starts, and continue well before the whole-of-life business value of the overall initiative is evident.

    As described inChapter 10: Using Agile ToolsandChapter 11: Measuring Agile Success, Agile approaches provide a number of mechanisms for tracking progress, which include formal reports (e.g. executive dashboards), status update tools (e.g. WIP boards and product backlogs), and ongoing communication with stakeholders. Arguably, however, the most valuable measure of the Agile team’s progress is their delivery oftangible outputs. For iterative Agile...

  24. CHAPTER 16: ESTABLISHING AGILE CONTRACTS
    (pp. 172-179)

    If you manage an IT department that develops software for external clients, you will find that establishing a contract that genuinely supports Agile approaches can be a significant challenge for your organization. By its very nature, a contract that specifiesdetailed upfront deliverablescontravenes the principles of flexibility and adaptation that are at the heart of Agile approaches63. However, the actual problem is not the detail in a contract – it is the unspoken reasonwhythe detail is there in the first place.

    Although the detail in a contract is often mandated by compliance requirements, organizational standards and legal...

  25. CHAPTER 17: BUILDING THE RIGHT AGILE TEAM
    (pp. 180-186)

    Putting together a successful Agile project team has as much to do with finding the right mix of technical skills as it has to do with finding the rightteam dynamic.

    Agile work requires team members to be:

    Multi-skilled, so that they areableto take on the variety of roles that may be needed by the team as work progresses

    Open-minded and flexible, so that they arewillingto take on the necessary roles

    Highly communicative, to encourage an environment of idea sharing, joint development, and collaborative issue resolution

    Self-motivated, so that they can work independently as well as...

  26. CHAPTER 18: CONDUCTING PERFORMANCE REVIEWS FOR AGILE TEAMS
    (pp. 187-190)

    Understanding the best way to structure performance reviews for Agile teams requires a quick look back atwhyorganizations conduct performance reviews in the first place.

    Beyond the human resources mandate that performance reviews must be conducted for each member of your staff, is the opportunity for these reviews to:

    Acknowledge the positive contributions that the employee has made to the organization

    Identify and address potential areas for improvement

    Reward the employee, based on their performance (e.g. give merit-based bonuses)

    Encourage employee feedback on management and/or the organization overall

    Be documented for recordkeeping, reference and legal purposes.

    In effect, a...

  27. CHAPTER 19: AVOIDING COMMON AGILE TRAPS
    (pp. 191-193)

    The simplicity and low overheads that make using Agile methodologies so appealing also make it highly susceptible to misapplication. The following identifies some of the most common traps that organizations have fallen into when implementing Agile.

    There is a difference between adapting Agile to suit the preferred work practices of your organization (e.g. adjusting iteration timeframes or using videoconferencing instead of face-to-face meetings), and adapting Agile in a way thatcontravenesthe underlying principles that drive its effectiveness. For example, applying a handful of Agile practices (e.g. daily stand-up meetings and Test-Driven Development)withoutthe benefit of the core elements...

  28. CHAPTER 20: EXPANDING AGILE
    (pp. 194-198)

    After your department has had the opportunity to trial Agile methodologies for a few months, it would be valuable for you to step back and ask yourself the following questions:

    Are teams delivering high business-value solutions within available budgets?

    Are the stakeholders getting the outcomes that they need?

    Are staff members happier to be working in a high-communication environment, rather than in a documentation-centric one?

    Is the quality of their work better than before?

    The answers to these questions should provide you with sufficient information to consider broadening the use of Agile methodologies to other projects in your department. (Or,...

  29. CHAPTER 21: MORE INFORMATION ON AGILE
    (pp. 199-205)

    The following are general, methodology-specific and practice-specific Agile sources that you can refer to for further information:

    Agile Alliance:www.agilealliance.com

    Agile: An Executive Guide – Real results from IT budgets, Jamie Lynn Cooke, IT Governance Publishing (2011):www.itgovernanceusa.com/product/2218.aspx

    AgileCanberra forum:http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/agilecanberra/

    Agile Journal:www.agilejournal.com

    AgileKiwi – Practical Agile Software Development:www.agilekiwi.com

    Agile Manifesto:www.agilemanifesto.org

    AgileSoftwareDevelopment.com:www.agilesoftwaredevelopment.com

    Alistair Cockburn:http://alistair.cockburn.us/

    Fundamentals of Agile Project Management: An Overview (Technical Manager’s Survival Guides), Gonçalves M, Heda R, ASME Press (2010):www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-Agile-Project-Management-Technical/dp/0791802965/ref=sr_1_117?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297939406&sr=1-117

    The New Methodologywww.thoughtworks.com/articles/new-methodology

    A Practical Guide to Seven Agile Methodologies, Coffin R, Lane D: Part one:www.devx.com/architect/Article/32761; Part two:www.devx.com/architect/Article/32836

    Scrum...

  30. ITG RESOURCES
    (pp. 206-208)