The Agile Doctor?

Many different types of Agile consulting firms do some sort of Agile assessment with their clients if the need is there. Well no longer. You can get an Agile check-up online. With Dr. Agile!

I wasn’t sure whether this was a joke or not when I came across the website, it smelt of a bad infomercial right off the bat. Grainy graphics, a funny looking dude with post-its all over him. What would you expect?

Well I did take the assessment. Wasn’t fully convinced that it was all too helpful though. Many of the questions had me wondering whether the assessment was for Agile-noobs or for experienced Agilists. Many of the questions assumed you already knew the lingo and certain “Agile” words.

One thing’s for certain, though. If you know enough about Agile, this quick 3 minute assessment may just help you… do… something with the information. Not sure yet.

Here is an example assessment after I went through it:

Continue reading “The Agile Doctor?”

IT Turf Wars? Agile Can Help

The guys over at InfoWorld put together an article on the Top 4 Information Technology Turf Wars. Whether it is Security vs. The World, Operations vs. Development, Admins vs. Other Admins, or IT Management vs. The Staff, it seemed that they hadn’t fully thought through some of the ways that some facets of Agile could help alleviate some of the frustration.

On Security vs. The World:

“When someone comes to the security people and says, ‘I want to do this,’ security’s default answer is to say no…”

Agile can help by bringing in the security personnel into the process earlier. While working through stories or grooming the backlog, it can help to have a security representative be part of the tasking-process. This can help in that the security dude can give technical and potentially architectural guidance around requirements.

On Operations vs. Development:

“The classic conflict is that IT is very often just managed as a cost center… They believe their job is to figure out how to do more with less… The operations side saw its job as managing costs, while the developers saw their job as managing quality…”

Agile can help by bringing QUALITY into the mix. Since so much of IT resources are focused on fixing and working through environmental issues and maintenance, Agile can help by defining “done” with quality baked in. As quality controls are built into the development process, less and less will break and operations will see development as something more than just managing a cost center.

On Admins vs. Other Admins:

“The classic scenario: A sys admin departs on bad terms and decides to wreak revenge… We’ve had to deal with admins who’ve abused their privileges maybe a couple of dozen times. For 99.999 percent of admins, this is never the case. But when we do hear about a rogue administrator gone wild, the danger is to say admins are going to run amok and steal things from the company. It breeds a culture of mistrust from management to security to IT. It’s counterproductive.”

Agile can help by bringing in two things: Cross-pollination of skills and knowledge through paired programming and (pair) administration, and creating an environment of transparency and accountability to those system admins. There should almost never be one single point of failure. How many horror stories have been told about the guy who got hit by the bus and now nothing can get done? Or is it more politically correct to say that he “won the lotto?” Agile is about transparency and disclosure into those things previously hidden. Utilize it for goodness’ sake!

On IT Management vs. The Staff:

“The biggest conflict is between IT management and IT staff… For some reason, the companies I’ve worked for seem to hire or promote people who are not technologically literate.”

Agile can help through inspection and adaption of processes and procedures. As the stakeholders, Product Owners, and management personnel learn more about what is going on with development, they will not only learn, but also be a more informed party during the development cycle. Bring your IT people into the fray. Let them into the development process. Over time, they’ll learn, and who knows, our know-it-all-senior-developer might learn a bit more about how the business runs as well.

[HT: InfoWorld]

Ruhroh! Challenges and Changes for Scrum Alliance Again

The Scrum Alliance just announced that they are parting ways with Donna Farmer, whom many saw as the beacon that would help lead the Scrum Alliance to greater glory with the 2011 Strategic Plan. Ruhroh! Looks like we’re headed into more challenging territory.

Excerpt below:

The Scrum Alliance Board of Directors has parted ways with former Managing Director Donna Farmer. The Scrum Alliance appreciates the work Donna accomplished during her time with us and we wish her all the best.

This definitely will make things interesting for the SA in 2011. We’ll stay tuned to see how things turn out!

[VIA: Scrum Alliance]

Top 10 Essential Product Owner Characteristics

We’ve written a bit about the product owner before:

  1. Product Owner Top 10 Backlog Tips
  2. 4 Questions a Product Owner Needs to Answer – In order to give good direction about a product
  3. 7 Product Owner Responsibilities and 4 Product Owner Artifacts
  4. Product Owners are VIPs – The PO tells us what to build!

Now we’re going to give you…

Top 10 Product Owner Qualities and Characteristics

  1. Engaged leadership – The best Product Owners are engaged in the entire process. A dis-engaged PO finds himself outside of the process quickly. An engaged product owner is a natural leader. He finds himself leading a team through his decisions and makes it apparent to the team that he is committed to not only the process, but the final product as well.
  2. Available within reason – The best Product Owners are available to the team, but within reason. There is something about co-locating oneself within the team so they have zero walls to climb in order to receive feedback and potentially daily guidance. The availability can come at a cost though, with an immature team who is lacking the accountability and responsibility of building the needed project. Be tactful here and give a healthy balance between availability and baby-sitting a development team. Sometimes helping them help themselves can create a partnership between team and PO that reeks of productivity!
  3. Informed about the product – The best Product Owners know the product inside and out. Noobs need not apply here. Subject matter experts on not only the product but also the market will find themselves the best prepared for giving updated feedback and guidance to a development team. Understanding beyond the product can help here as well, but core to the Product Owner role is their ability to intimately know and understand the product or product set they are helping a development team build. Continue reading “Top 10 Essential Product Owner Characteristics”

The UK Govt Manages Your Pensions Using Agile

The Department for Work and Pensions in the UK is taking your money seriously. So seriously that they’re going to be managing the software side using Agile methodologies.

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) faces constant pressure to provide its end-users and partners with customised, high quality, working software applications on time and to budget…[aren’t we all]… “Agile is already delivering for us, and it is our intention not to use the old style of project management for new projects in the future. “That does not mean to say that all of what was done in the past was wrong – the old way, provided it was supported by effective collaboration worked and did deliver, but not as efficiently.”

This sounds good to us, but it seems that not everyone over there in the UK are sold 100% on Agile:

“But whether more lightweight, incremental agile alternatives that place greater emphasis on collaboration between teams of developers and end user interaction are the best way forward in every case is not certain either… It is not necessarily the fault of IT but it begins with the client and it is incumbent on me and anyone else in my position to be really clear about what the client wants and how they want to go about achieving it, and collaboration is key to this.”

Taking small incremental steps will help. It’s good to know that other government agencies (Veterans Affairs) around the world are taking notice of Agile and utilizing it (Obama told us to use Agile anyway). Could it be said that the governments are finally doing something right?

Maybe we’re just biased.

[HT: Computing UK]

Week Retrospective 25 – Scrum Backlog Tips and 3 Types of Scrum

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Kanban Elevator Pitch – Help Craft It

Kanban is a way to incrementally and continually improve your approach to meeting your goals, by understanding the situation clearly, identifying the real challenges and testing out your chosen options for resolving those challenges.” – John Stevenson

Here is a great starting point by John Stevenson.

I’d like to open up the comments to help craft the perfect kanban elevator pitch.

What would you say?

[HT: Lean Agile Machine]