For a successful agile team, a proper backlog is as important to success as air is to breathe. Neglect the backlog and allow disorder and non-precedence to creep in. The result? Teams who thrash – trying desperately to determine what to work on, suffering from bad habits once extinguished, and losing the the agile culture and mindset you’ve worked so hard to foster begins to falter. Teams who are led astray from their backlog are not uncommon, but there are a few categories of mistakes and mis-steps that seem to repeat themselves most frequently. In today’s blog we’ll review these common challenges and discuss best practices to overcome them.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has become a leading methodology to scale Lean and Agile principles from individual teams to the program and portfolio levels. As enterprise teams adopt agile practices, some common problems they incur when developing large solutions are misaligned priorities, lack of cross functional team collaboration, and system architectures that do not scale or integrate efficiently. This is where SAFe comes in. SAFe provides direction on how to solve common business and information technology (IT) problems to ensure teams are aligned in terms of strategy, process, and solutions.
Agile methodologies, and specifically Scrum, is rapidly increasing in popularity and most teams can benefit from the increased collaboration, communication and transparency that it brings. Is it possible to benefit from the increased collaboration, communication, and transparency Agile brings at home?
A while back I was chatting with a friend in the aviation industry and he offered an interesting explanation of how a jet engine works. In any combustion engine there are four distinct steps (strokes if you’re a gearhead):
Intake: Air is pulled into the intake feeding the compressor
Compression: The turbine compresses the air mixture to the optimum pressure for combustion
Combustion: Fuel is added and ignited. The rapid expansion of this controlled explosion pushes the air to the exhaust.
Exhaust: The exhaust gases produced by combustion propel the engine while fresh air is pulled into the intake continuing the rapid, highly efficient cycle.
The two minute drill has been a staple of football since players were strapping on leather helmets. While it has produced many dramatic finishes to football games over the years, the two minute drill is equally likely to end in disappointment. In the 1980’s the Cincinnati Bengals took this concept and turned it on its head by asking “what if we applied the underlying concepts of the two minute drill to the preceding 58 minutes of the game?” The result was an offensive juggernaut that by 1988 would land them in the Super Bowl. Although I didn’t realize it at the time as I watched the Bengals season unfold week by week, I was learning lessons that would ring as true in my work as an SEI consultant as they do on a Sunday afternoon in front of the TV.
Agile methods show great promise, delivering business value in environments where traditional (waterfall) models struggle. Despite a growing number of success stories, many projects can still be classified as failing or, at the very least, challenged. Over the years I’ve observed many teams with varying degrees of success. Of those most successful, I found a few common traits stemming from a fresh mindset both organizationally and individually.
In our first post of this series, we discussed how to identify opportunities where Agile can be used in BI\DW enterprise initiatives and how to begin planning for implementation. So you have an eager agile team, prioritized business functionality, a system design, an invested business owner, and a desire to make each iteration better than the last. Smooth sailing from here on out, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t usually case. Every project, including BI/DW projects, will have pitfalls and challenges. However, you can avoid these pitfalls and gracefully face these challenges with some lessons learned and best practices derived from the experience of teams who have successfully made the leap to agile BI/DW.
Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP), have grown in popularity in recent years for software development projects. Typically, these projects are thought of as endeavors to build stand-alone, packaged products or applications. Less common is the use of agile approaches to build out complex enterprise scale solutions that involve multiple disparate corporate applications. But, in fact, agile methodologies can be extended beyond the “packaged product”. Prominent examples of this are business intelligence and data warehousing (BI/DW) applications where the central technical objective is centralizing and conforming large sets of data to uniform definitions.
Your PMO is established with mature and proven processes allowing your Project Managers to successfully deliver a wide range of projects across the organization. You may have taken your PMO to the next level by establishing a Program Management Office or a Portfolio Management Office reaping the benefits of centralized reporting, delivery and resource allocation, just to name a few.
Chances are, your organization’s projects follow a traditional waterfall method for software delivery, and your PMO has established tollgates that must be adhered to with appropriate documentation and approvals to move projects forward from each phase.