Agile foundation and agile myths

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This presentation addresses the value destroying Predictive approaches that lead to Agile - and then some myths about Agile.

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  • To get to these business benefits, some realities must be acknowledged.

    At some level in the project these begin to become inaccurate.
  • Manufacturing has different departments
    Research, Engineering, Planning, Execution

    Software engineering includes all disciplines concurrently
    Interestingly, planning takes place before engineering in SD in stark contrast to manufacturing.

  • This is written in response to the prevailing Predictive approach. The focus on process and tools, comprehensive documentation, contract negotiation, and following a plan results in value destroying behavior.

  • Being able to predict how long the project will take is much easier than predicting how long each activity will take.

    Driving to work

    How long does will it take to fix the bugs we haven’t found yet in the code that hasn’t been written yet from the specifications that haven’t been finalized yet.

    Parkinson’s law, Student Syndrome, Murphy’s Law

    Gains are lost and losses accumulate.
  • Optimizing resource utilization increases WIP and creates delays (leads to rework, re-learning, and quality issues)
  • First off, with all the planning and analysis you do today, how often do you deliver exactly what you expected, when you expected, at the cost you planned? If you are hitting it consistently you have too much buffer in your plans.

    If you are frequently delivering end to end slices of value – you will understand where you are, you will be delivering value sooner, and you can make better decisions earlier.

    I was in a Steering Committee meeting for a large agricultural manufacturer that bends metal and paints it green. We were 20% of the way into the schedule of the project and I reported a delay. I was asked how I knew. I told them we had done our risk spikes and buil5 out 15% of the scope and had identified where there would be more work and where our technical risks had manifested. I was told “”see, this agile doesn’t work! We never have this type of problem until we are 80-90% of the way through our other projects.”
  • How long will it take to fix in the bugs you find in the tests you haven’t run on the code you haven’t written to meet the specifications that are still ambiguous? And be precise because you will be held accountable to it.
  • Again, software is not a linear process. It is a collaborative process – so a strict hand-offs aren’t as useful as richer methods of communication like conversations, prototypes, and frequent reviews of working product. Additionally, the team is in the best position to make the decisions that will optimize quality and fit. Finally, teams that stay together over time – rather than project teams that are torn apart or individuals that are matrixed into many teams per project is problematic.
  • Are an overreaction to challenges presented by predictive approaches. When the predictive approach is removed, it must be replaced with the appropriate enabling Agile approach.
  • Agile principle: responding to change over following a plan

    Plan & prioritize backlog – Means high value, high risk first as shown earlier.
    Reference agile triangle, work within cost and schedule scope will emerge.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation



  • Separate Planning from management of execution. Learn from history, what we call yesterday’s weather.
    There are commitments being made and met all the time in the project. In fact, there is more commitment and visibility than on a regular project.
  • Working with PMI Agile CoP
    Helping to explain the body of experience for
    Balancing Agile and predictive methods
  • Agile foundation and agile myths

    1. 1. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Agile Foundation, Promises and Myths Executive Brief For Turner Broadcasting PMO
    2. 2. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Better Software Delivery • Get working software to market faster • Optimize resources • Improve predictability of delivery • Satisfy customer needs • Improve delivery capability
    3. 3. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Software Development Circa 1994 Technology is a key driver for business strategies But most business weren’t very successful at it
    4. 4. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com The Predictive Approach To improve software delivery we need to: • Standardize processes • Optimize resource utilization • Perform Rigorous up-front design • Produce Comprehensive documentation • Get commitment to a definitive Scope, Cost and Schedule • Enforce strict adherence to the detailed plan
    5. 5. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Predictive Approach Underlying Assumptions Scope • All requirements are knowable initially • Requirements can be documented completely up front to guide development • Change requests provide sufficient flexibility to new and/or clarified needs Variation • Tasks required to deliver requirements can be precisely known and estimated • Tasks must start and finish according to the predictive schedule
    6. 6. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Predictive Approach: Underlying Assumptions Process • Software engineering is linear in nature • Manufacturing-centric practices apply directly to software engineering
    7. 7. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Agile Manifesto We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value: • Individuals and interactions over process and tools • Working software over comprehensive documentation • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation • Responding to change over following a plan That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
    8. 8. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com PREDICTIVE / AGILE COMPARISON
    9. 9. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Get to Market Faster Predictive Approach • The best way to finish projects faster is to dictate that all tasks be finished on time Flaw • Variation from estimates is natural Agile • Separate estimates from execution. Promote Road Runner behavior.
    10. 10. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Optimize Resource Utilization Predictive Approach • The highest ROI depends on maximum resource utilization Flaw • Software development is not linear in nature – Optimizing resources doesn’t improve cycle time, it creates WIP and lost knowledge. Agile • Focus on finishing and flow of work
    11. 11. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Predictive Approach • Planning every detail up-front results in stable projects Flaw • You don’t know where you are until you deliver things. Agile • Frequent delivery of tested, deployable solutions provides the best learning and predictability (you can trim the tail) Business Value GrowingKnowledgeGrowing (risk reduction) 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 Cost Value $ink Improve Predictability
    12. 12. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Satisfy Customer Needs Predictive Approach • Study the problem until you know everything Flaw • We can not have perfect (even reliable) up front knowledge of all tasks, how to do them, how long they will take, or what challenges we will face. Agile • Get started early delivering value and get customer feedback
    13. 13. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Improved Capability Predictive Approach • Rigorous adherence to work standards, hand-offs, and detailed “how” based process Flaw • Every team, product, and situation is different with different needs and strengths Agile • Engaged, fully capable, self organizing teams that are continually assessing their performance and applying situation specific strategies, processes and practices
    14. 14. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Better ways of developing software Agile Methods deliver on the promise: • Get to market faster • Optimize resources • Improve predictability • Satisfy customer needs • Improve delivery capability Because Agile is designed to deal with these realities: • Inevitable uncertainty in scope • Natural variation from estimated task effort • Non-linear nature of software engineering
    15. 15. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com AGILE MYTHS
    16. 16. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com No Planning Origins • Comprehensive detailed planning is not realistic • Treating estimates as commitments destroys moral and value Agile Approach • Identify major outcomes, milestones & dependencies • Plan & prioritize backlog iteratively • Establish context & simple policies
    17. 17. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com No Documentation Origin • Detailed up front spec’s are wrong in retrospect • Perfect documentation provides little customer value but results in delays and rework Agile Approach • Document high level, stable concepts • Just in time detail • Rich forms of communication • Focus on long lived doc’s that support adoption and achieving value
    18. 18. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com No Commitments Origin • Tasks cannot be defined, much less estimated, up front • Committing to tasks does not ensure the project is on track Agile Approach • Estimate the big project by order of magnitude • Commit at the sprint level • Demonstrate predictable delivery of working software Commit at OOM Commit to PO Pull work - Commit to Team
    19. 19. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com No Process Origin • Detailed process is different from task to task • And difficult & wasteful to pre- determine & enforce • Teams know the most about the task in the moment Agile Process • Establish standards & policy • Establish competencies within teams • Teams self-organize armed with most current understanding • Automate repetitive processes
    20. 20. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com No PM, BA, QA Origin • Scrum does not specify PM, BA, QA • Agile started with small teams where a Product Owner embodied these functions Agile Approach • These competencies still exist either on the team or coordinated by the Product Owner • Larger org’s require a PO team PM BA QA PO DEV DBA UI Product Owner Team Development Team
    21. 21. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com CONCLUSION
    22. 22. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com How do you know you’re Agile? The question is not are you Agile Where are you on the Agile scale? • Balance predictive and Agile methods where appropriate to optimize your organizations ability to deliver value
    23. 23. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com Summary • Agile arose in response to problems with predictive planning • Balance predictive planning and Agile execution to achieve these goals of software delivery – Get working software to market faster – Optimize resources – Improve predictability of delivery – Satisfy customer needs – Improve delivery capability • When applied responsibly and purposefully, the appropriate Agile efforts will dramatically improve the ability to deliver software.
    24. 24. Strategically Aligned Throughput Focused Human Powered http://www.synaptus.com QUESTIONS? Dennis Stevens President, Synaptus Enabling the Agile Enterprise www.synaptus.com www.dennisstevens.com

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