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Agility Matters
Agility Matters
Agility Matters
Agility Matters
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Agility Matters

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You’ve heard about the wonderful world of agile delivery, but do you know how to actually realize its benefits and unlock the treasure trove of innovation, ideas and enthusiasm in your IBM i teams? …

You’ve heard about the wonderful world of agile delivery, but do you know how to actually realize its benefits and unlock the treasure trove of innovation, ideas and enthusiasm in your IBM i teams? Although agile is independent of technology, adopting it in the IBM i on Power Systems* environment presents a few unique challenges.Learn more about practices and tools that can put you on the right path to better and faster application development.

Source: IBM Systems Magazine, Power edition, May 2013, Simon Webb, IBM Rational software

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  • 1. You’ve heard about the wonderfulworld of agile delivery, but do youknow how to actually realize itsbenefits and unlock the treasure trove ofinnovation, ideas and enthusiasm in yourIBM i teams? Although agile is indepen-dent of technology, adopting it in theIBM i on Power Systems* environmentpresents a few unique challenges.The way that teams andinfrastructure have evolved and theaccompanying specialization of skillsand functions point to a pressing needfor practices and tools that can put youon the right path to better and fasterapplication development.Business ImperativesThe new economic reality in most ITshops is to essentially “do more withless.” But “do more” doesn’t mean moremaintenance or infrastructure work; itmeans more business value.You’re being asked to react morequickly to changing requirements anddeal with more complex applicationarchitectures involving Web and mobilecomponents. The changes required willtypically span many technologies andsystems, with IBM i at the epicenteras the backbone of your application.How can you analyze, plan, coordinate,develop, build, validate and track all ofthis better and faster than before?It’s all about making the most ofyour valuable assets—people, systemsand tools—to produce the most valuefor your customers. Thankfully, bestpractices, tools and experts can help you.i b m s y s t e m s m a g . c o m / p o w e r m a y 2 0 1 3 27Become more agile and innovativewith your IBM i projectsBy Simon Webb ✦ illustration by bruce morser• Agile is a new model for software delivery—independentof technology—that lets you spend less time on maintenanceand infrastructure and more time developing new functionand value for your customers.• Agile principles include early and continuous delivery of valuablesoftware, self-improving teams, transparency and accountability.• You can’t become truly agile just by changing yourprocesses and mindset.• With a combination of agile methodology, Rational TeamConcert, Rational Developer for Power and the ARCAD-Rational Power Pack, you can confidently improveproductivity, skills transferability and quality.TakeawayAgilityMattersR e p o s t e d w i t h p e r m i s s i o n f r o m I B M S y s t e m s M a g a z i n e , P o w e r S y s t e m s e d i t i o n
  • 2. m a y 2 0 1 3 i b m s y s t e m s m a g . c o m / p o w e r28How to Become AgileAgile delivery requires a mindsetadjustment—and it’s not always easyto make the changes in thinkingrequired, given the decades of adher-ence to the traditional waterfall modeland organizational structures thatevolved to service that model. It’salso a mistake to believe that you canbecome truly agile just by changingyour processes and mindset. Thedemands on the tools you use for everyaspect of delivery become greater—I’llget to that shortly, but for now let’sfocus on the process.In 2001, the Agile Manifesto laidout four simple value statements about ashift to a better way of delivering soft-ware. What does it mean in practice?Let’s review the most highly valuedpractices that result from applyingthese principles.At the top of the list must be theearly and continuous delivery of valuablesoftware. A lot of content is packed intothat very short phrase, so let’s tease itapart a bit. Early delivery encapsulatesthe principle that working software isImportant LinksAgile Manifestohttp://agilemanifesto.orgJazz.nethttp://jazz.netIBM Rational Team Concertwww.ibm.com/software/rational/products/rtcIBM Rational Developer forPower Systems Softwarewww.ibm.com/software/rational/products/rdpARCAD-Rational Power Packwww.arcadsoftware.com/products-scm-rationalAgile Transformation Zonewww.ibm.com/developerworks/agilea better measure of progress and valuethan documentation. However, deliv-ering frequently at a sustainable pace isthe real game changer here.Breaking your deliveries intomanageable pieces that can bedelivered in two- to four-week cyclesdrives waste and delay out of yourentire delivery lifecycle, and you’llbe amazed at what you can deliveronce that’s happened. You get theopportunity to:R Improve your own execution muchmore rapidlyR Involve stakeholders more often andactually incorporate their feedbackquickly to improve the resultR Deliver business value incremen-tally, delighting sales, managementand customersR Experience the morale-boostingsatisfaction of frequent delivery,rather than once at the endIf something goes wrong, you’llknow immediately (rather than findingout in the last three weeks of youryearlong project) and the most you’llhave blown is one cycle. This fail-fastapproach is key to eliminating thebuildup of technical debt that’s theleading cause of failure for traditionalsoftware delivery projects.Regular reflection is not onlygood for the soul, but also incrediblyimportant for agile teams. At the endof a cycle of delivery (known as aniteration or sprint), the proud teamdemonstrates what it’s achieved tothe stakeholders. Feedback from thestakeholders is gathered and prioritizedfor inclusion into subsequent deliveries.The team also reflects on what workedand what didn’t during the iteration,and it prioritizes improvements toworking practices, tools or organizationthat it believes is important to gettingbetter results the next time.Teams work better, are happierand more motivated when in controlof their work and the way in which it’sdone. Enabling self-organizing and self-improving teams is a key humanizingaspect of agile delivery.To deliver truly valuable softwarefrequently, the entire team mustparticipate as one efficient, highlyconnected entity. That includes allfunctions necessary for the comple-tion of a delivery—business analysts,testers, marketing, systems operators,support, information authors, trainers,translators—even legal, if necessary.Transparency is vital to ensuring thatcritical collaboration occurs. Everyone’swork is visible and interconnected andthere’s no need to ask people for theirstatus—it’s right there. That’s the wayto build trust and accountability.The traditional approach ofspending months to develop a detailedand complete plan that attempts toget every component correct up frontfor the entire project rarely succeeds.Usually the master plan is wrong beforeany code is written, and valuable cyclesare taken up by measuring progressTeams work better, are happier andmore motivated when in controlof their work and the way in which it’sdone. Enabling self-organizingand self-improving teams is akey humanizing aspect of agile delivery.
  • 3. m a y 2 0 1 3 i b m s y s t e m s m a g . c o m / p o w e r30against it. Agile teams, on the otherhand, create a low-detail releasestrategy along with just-in-time plan-ning of many small iteration projectsthat the team puts together in a matterof hours at the start of a sprint. Thesejust-in-time iteration plans are easy tocreate, maintain and communicate andare much more likely to be accuratethan the aforementioned “master plan”since their scope is limited to a single,short-duration iteration.Because of this refreshinglydynamic approach to planning anddelivery, the organization is nowoptimized for changing requirementson the fly—a reality of business at thespeed of the Internet, not an exception.Stakeholders, sales teams and manage-ment will be delighted with the newresponsiveness.You’ll need many thingsfrom your existing playbook, ofcourse—not least of which is payingcontinuous attention to technicalThe traditional approach ofspending months to develop adetailed and complete plan thatattempts to get every componentcorrect up front for the entireproject rarely succeeds.IBM incorporated Rational Team Concertin its own processes, saving$300 millionin a continued transformation to agile.bit.ly/agile300miland data, but Web componentsdeployed on Linux* servers, mobilecomponents and maybe even main-frame as well. What you need is acommon platform on which to orches-trate all of this—something that worksfor everyone on every team whateverthe technology or role.Automation extends also tocommunication and collaboration,which is vital to becoming agile. If youcan’t be face to face with everyone,then you must have a way of feeling andacting as if you’re as close. Informationflow and linkage needs to be automaticacross all functions and artifacts.Collaboration must be built in ratherthan treated as an additional task, likesending an email or calling a meeting.The speed and accuracy of analysismust span all types of artifacts, tech-nologies and platforms for you to beable to react to changing requirementsefficiently. No more silos allowed!How to Get StartedIn 2007, I was running developmentteams for IBM Software Group in theWebSphere* brand, and I was inspiredby the promise of agile and determinedto embark on that transformation. Iwondered then, how could I accomplishit? So many things had to change. Butwith the help of my senior architect,we found Jazz.net, which became theInternet home of a new Rational*product being developed “in public” andpromised to deliver on being the Jazz*platform. IBM Rational Team Concert*(RTC) became the foundation on whichmy agile transformation was built.excellence and design. I’ve heardcriticisms of agile for de-emphasizingsoftware engineering design andreplacing it with some sort of “hacker”notion of development. Nothingcould be further from the truth.Don’t skip design, but do modularizeyour software so that within anarchitectural framework the designcan be expanded incrementally assoftware is delivered.Agile is religion to some people,but to me, it’s a series of logicalimprovements that can be adoptedincrementally to improve overallresults. In my experience, incrementaltransformation does bring incrementalbenefits, so my advice would be to justget started.Requirements of an Agile TeamFrom this brief review of the adoptionpractices in becoming agile, it may seemevident your tools and infrastructurewill need a boost to support this newagile world. You’re doomed to failureunless your tools are themselves agileenough to support you.Automate, automate,automate—and do it acrossas many processes,functions, platforms,systems and rolesas possible. Thesedays you’re likelyto be workingon a compositeapplication,involving notjust IBM i corebusiness logic
  • 4. i b m s y s t e m s m a g . c o m / p o w e r m a y 2 0 1 3 31Several years and releases later,RTC is going from strength tostrength. IBM incorporated it in itsown processes, saving $300 million ina continued transformation to agile(bit.ly/agile300mil).RTC runs on Linux, Windows*,AIX*, System z* and, of course, IBM i.With both Eclipse and Web clients,technical and nontechnical users willbe happy and fully interconnected.Developers enjoy a unified Eclipse-based environment including integrationwith IBM Rational Developer forPower Systems Software* (RDP).Team members who don’t need extensiveEclipse-based integrations and toolswill find the Web client intuitive fortheir collaboration, planning and taskmanagement needs.For IBM i projects, the ARCAD-Rational Power Pack (ARPP)—anextension to RTC and RDP nowavailable from IBM—is strongly recom-mended. ARCAD Software’s decadesof IBM i expertise encapsulated in thisseamlessly integrated extension willsupport you in making your transitionto agile using RTC by:R Deepening structural and depen-dency analysis for all IBM i specifictechnologies, languages and objectsR Improving the accuracy and simplicityof automating complex, multistagebuild and deployment tasksR Cleaning up and rationalizingIBM i application code as youmigrate to RTCOne of the biggest barriersto deeper collaboration betweenIBM i and non-IBM i teams has beenthe lack of support for the platform’stechnologies and languages in industrystandard tools. With the combinationof agile, RTC, RDP and ARPP, youcan confidently solve that problemwhile improving productivity, skillstransferability and quality.Most teams start by adopting agilewith RTC in stages, starting with thecore development team and expandingout to the complete agile team. A stagedadoption path I’ve used with successfollows these broad steps:1 Migrate to RTC Source CodeManagement (SCM)2 Add defect tracking3 Add simple task management andworkflows4 Implement build and deploymentautomation5 Conduct basic agile planning andadoption of initial iterative develop-ment process6 Expand usage of RTC to wider team7 Improve automation, reduce iterationlength, introduce release planning8 “Rinse and repeat,” improving witheach iteration to arrive at a sustain-able agile delivery paceThis framework is an agileapproach to adopting agile. The overallaim should be the shortest practicaliteration length given a particularenvironment and stage of automation.As you deploy these tools and activatetheir features, you’ll drive out wasteand delay, allowing you to approach theoptimum iteration length. You’ll alsofree up time and resources to innovateand deliver business value faster andmeet stakeholder needs more accurately.I’ve just scratched the surface of thetopic but it should provide some impetusto the modernization of your deliverycapabilities—especially if they areanchored on IBM i. Visit the “ImportantLinks” (page 28) and get started for free.Also consider joining the conversationin our practitioner community, theAgile Transformation Zone.Simon Webb works withIBM Rational Software busi-ness partners to build jointsolutions for the softwaredelivery community.

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