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IT Infrastructure Implementation Agile Project Kanban Process and Toolkit

March 3, 2015 Leave a comment

This is not a typical Waterfall process but a hybrid that combines Agile, Kanban and continuous improvement techniques to deliver IT infrastructure projects. Create your first Kanban and use it to pull work through steps from build, configure to ready for users and production.  Read more about it here.

IT Infra Implem Agile Kanban Process Toolkit image jpeg

 

How Large Companies Go Agile: A Prologue

February 14, 2015 Leave a comment

Big consulting companies are waiting to take advantage of you. The Agile transition process is simple, but the work involved in doing so is not. My goal is to provide information to ease your transition so take the time to read and consider it before you make the $ plunge.

The scenario in this blog post actually happened at a large company and my conclusions about what went wrong come from my observations of the event, past experiences re-valuing PMOs and current research on best practices that cover an array of related topics. I’m going to explain how a large company can learn from these mistakes, starting with some important fundamentals to set you on the right path.

Team

Get the Right People Together

The Transition Team protects and guides individual business units through the transition process. It should include a good mix of people who have tribal knowledge of the company and creative thinkers who may not. Start with skilled people who know the business culture and the current business processes used throughout the company. Also consider thought leaders and change agents who think and work outside the box. People excluded from company politics but with the skills to leverage the knowledge of the tribe. This series of 4 articles about charting a path to change explains how to avoid pitfalls if you fail to acknowledge the human side of business change.

Forming a transition team is challenging to do if politics and bias exist in your company culture. Chaos lurks when everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and everyone on the wagon wants things that benefit them. Have the courage to exclude people who want to boost experience on their resume. They typically devalue transition teams because they often express the oppressive and burdensome behaviors listed here.

Learning

Get the Right Knowledge

Sending everyone to Scrum school can be a waste of time and money early on. Scrum is one of many Agile methods and large companies will most likely end up with a hybrid of Agile techniques that form one enterprise framework. Company management and employees on the Agile transition team need a basic understanding of each Agile method so I recommend “Agile & Iterative Development, A Manager’s Guide”, by Craig Larman as a good starting point. More training and experience comes as your company moves through the transition process.

Know the Business Processes…then put them aside for a little while

Agile transition is not about creating an Agile process and fitting cross-functional teams and work into it. It is about building an Agile environment around how work gets done. Most functional teams accept, process and deliver work in either a linear or non-linear fashion so the type of Agile method they select starts with an understanding of the suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs and customers they work with. A simple SIPOC is all you need to get started. Capture your business processes but don’t try to improve them yet. That comes later.

SIPOC image

More to come in the next post.

How Not to Go Agile

February 8, 2015 Leave a comment

Just about every company wants to go Agile, but for large companies what it takes to go Agile may stop Agile in its tracks.

To some people being Agile means they can deliver products and services more rapidly. Smaller product increments delivered using lean processes with low overhead are attractive and make customers happy. To others Agile means accelerated revenue, money saved or a better competitive edge. Some smaller organizations are lucky to experience all of these benefits rather quickly, but recent studies show large companies continue to struggle with Agile implementation and some say being Agile falls short of expectations. Here’s one example.Chaos2

A large company’s IT department uses a Waterfall process to deliver cross-functional projects quite successfully for many years. When they decided to go Agile, someone in the IT organization took the Waterfall process and added Agile activities to it. This became their new Agile project management process with more than 180 activities and deliverables. Then a PM came on board and tried to use it to deliver a project with a team of people from IT and engineering. The project was placed on hold not too long after it started, and $2m was spent on the project with nothing to show for it.

What happened?

  1. Someone in the company created a process, called it Agile and tried to fit a cross-functional organization into it. The new process confused people and most became irritated and disengaged.
  2. No Product Owner role, no Project Sponsor role, no product backlog or project charter. The design and development teams didn’t know what to build so they made assumptions that didn’t work.
  3. The new process was actually a disconnected Waterfall/Agile hybrid process. Scope changes made by the Sprint Team caused delays and rework for those on the Waterfall side of the process. No clear hand-offs meant long delays.
  4. Agile transition is an iterative progression and little thought went into this. The process was not tested and no one understood how to integrate it with other business processes.
  5. Making a significant change like this one also means managing how the change impacts the business culture and the way people work together. Little thought went into preparing the people.

By following a well thought out iterative progression path and by taking into account the impacts to the organization as a whole, large companies can make the transition to Agile.