APMG International Agile Certification

There is a growing list of Agile Certifications out there:

  1. Scrum Alliance ScrumMaster Certification
  2. Project Management Institute Agile Certification
  3. Oh Canada! Agile Certification
  4. DSDM – Agile Atern Certification
  5. Open Agile Certification
  6. APMG-International – Agile Project Management

I’m sure there are more out there… and I’m learning more about these every day.

As for APMG-International: It is a global Examination Institute accredited by The APM Group Ltd, the Official Accreditor of the Office of Government Commerce. Their regional offices are located in Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Malaysia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Their portfolio of qualifications includes the OGC Best Practice qualifications of ITIL®, PRINCE2®, MSP®, M_o_R®, and P3O®.

I really am curious about these certifications, frankly speaking, I think it would be GREAT to have all of them under my belt! Am I a certification junkie then? Ok ok, I know that certification doesn’t mean you’re actually proficient in anything. I graduated with a bunch of knuckleheads in college, and graduated as a knucklehead in my Masters degree.

So, if you had the choice, which Agile certification would you do? Would you do all of them?


Agile Car Insurance

Dang, I really thought hard about having this article be funny, witty, and smart. But all I ended up with was some recent news:

First Insurance Company of Hawaii (FICOH), a property and casualty insurer, has implemented ISCS’s SurePower Innovation Policy Administration Suite for its new personal lines auto business. FICOH vice president, personal lines Tony Abad said ISCS’s agile methodology enabled them to draw on our critical staff for intensely-focused and manageable periods of time that minimized the long-term time commitment other technology development methods required. The team could see and react to the emerging solutions in a much tighter response cycle.

This is a sure #win for the small-time auto insurance company. Are the bigger insurance companies taking notice?

[More on insurance] – At most insurance companies, the software development process is highly inefficient and many have experienced major multi-million dollar software development failures. Improving software development processes is critical for achieving objectives.

Other financial services verticals, such as banks and hedge funds, were early adopters of agile processes, while insurance companies tended to lag behind or experiment on a relatively small scale. Most insurance company IT leadership has focused on lowering the costs of their software delivery model by outsourcing to offshore firms. This approach immediately delivers a lower cost per unit of labor; however, it comes at an extremely high and unanticipated cost: it dramatically increases the complexity of the software delivery model, making it much less nimble. Many find that efficient, timely delivery of high quality software remains extremely elusive.

Currently, almost all insurance companies have become familiar with these practices and are using some form of agile software development, especially for their leading edge and web development projects.

The barriers to successful agile software development process can be complex and span a wide range of challenges, including organizational and vendor management issues, an inability to gain the necessary cooperation from the business community, technical barriers, or resistance to agile practices within the IT organization.

[HT: Technology in Insurance]

Agile Transformation Walkthrough

What I love about being an Enterprise Agile Coach is the ability to work with great clients who not only love Agile, but have fully transformed their entire business around it.

The video above is an example walkthrough of a business that I had the pleasure of completing an Agile transformation with. The transformation included:

Want to know the most rewarding thing about this client engagement? The fact that they embraced Agile so much, they are now teaching Agile to their clients. Talk about awesome!

Retrospective 38 – Agile, Scrum, Developers and Tutorials


Agile Developers Please Apply

Coming from a developer background, when I think of working in a high-performance-agile-environment, I want to work with the best and brightest developers and team around. Who wouldn’t want to work in a high-performing company with competitive pay, great benefits, and innovation as a foundation?

“Joel Spolsky once correctly explained that you’re generally looking for two things in an employee: Smart and Gets Things Done. (Academia is teeming with people who are the former but not the latter.) First, though, you have to establish something else: Not Completely Inept. You’d be amazed how many totally incompetent people show up for technical interviews.” – Jon Evans – TechCrunch

So what should a real interview consist of? Jon offers a humble proposal: don’t interview anyone who hasn’t accomplished anything. Ever. Certificates and degrees are not accomplishments.

“There is no excuse for software developers who don’t have a site, app, or service they can point to and say, “I did this, all by myself!” in a world where Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services have free service tiers, and it costs all of $25 to register as an Android developer and publish an app on the Android Market.”

Where am I going with all of this?

Agile Developers

  • Would it be too harsh to say that there are people that naturally fit within an Agile environment and those that don’t?
  • Would I be wrong if I were to say that great Agile developers are naturally great communicators and great collaborators?
  • Would it be too rough to say that there are personalities that just don’t mesh with flexibility and agility?
  • Would I be too off-base to say that the best developers for Agile environments are those that are naturally entrepreneur-minded?
  • Would it be wrong of me to say that Agile developers need to be innovative?
  • Would it be crazy to say that only lazy developers hate Agile and Scrum?

What are your thoughts? When considering a transition to Agile, do the people matter?

[HT: Tech Crunch]

A Concrete Example for Small Increments

[Guest Post: Paul Boos serves as the software maintenance lead for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP).  His team currently uses Kanban and Scrum to maintain the OPP legacy code base.  Prior to that he implemented Scrum as the Branch Chief for the National Development Branch within USDA/Rural Development. Follow him on twitter: @paul_boos]

I’ve been a believer in delivering small increments of working product for a long time, but I thought I would put out a warning on how easy it is to let yourself be seduced when you enter areas where others know more.  Before I get to my specific example, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I bow to other’s demands that the first time they want to see my (software) product is after it released?  Often customers don’t want to be involved in the development process, do I accommodate them and use proxies?
  • Am I getting advice on my applications from outside consultants?
  • Do I constrain myself in my schedule/plan in such a way that dependencies become tightly coupled and thus many things must occur almost simultaneously?
  • Do I allow myself to focus on optimistic timelines or cost savings if I take a particular course?

We encounter these types of issues constantly and all of them can become traps to taking the wrong path.  I will now provide you a concrete example; quite literally about concrete.

Piet Mondrian 1872-1944

I have a patio project I am working on; my design is sets of concrete rectangular slabs laid out similar to Piet Mondrian’s famous works.  In between the slabs, I am using small-pebbled gray gravel.  A majority of the rectangles would be tinted a simple tan, but a few were intended to be tinted differently, highly reflective of Piet Mondrian’s work.

Given the nice incremental lay out, my original intention was to form the rectangles up and using the mixer I had mix and pour each square one by one.  The hardest thing would be to be consistent with the tints from one rectangle to another, particular with the tan.  Each slab I pour would be a learning experience and I screwed up one, I only have that one to fix (refactor).  Sounds very Agile right?  It is…

My good friend built a huge portion of his home in Florida using poured concrete.  He had been advising me along the way (I had a retaining wall I had to do prior to the patio).  He knew I was sensitive to cost for my project (which was the primary reason I was doing it myself, not because I was a whiz with concrete).  He convinced me by working through the calculations that getting a concrete mixer and a pumper truck would be cheaper and make the job go much faster.  He had used this combination several times when building his house with great success.  He further convinced me that my Mondrian-inspired pattern was enough to look great, I didn’t need the additional colors.  That would allow me to get everything in one pour.  In fact, one truck would take care of the entire patio and I would have enough left to pour under my screened porch so I could use it for storage  What a deal! Continue reading “A Concrete Example for Small Increments”