Tag Archives: Agile

Agile in Defense Conference

As the Department of Defense focuses on “delivering 75% solutions in months [instead of] 100% solutions in years” Agile is finding its way into big, traditionally managed programs. This event http://www.afei.org/events/2A01/Pages/default.aspx specifically addresses Agile in Defense. My presentation was an invitation following a successful meeting at the ADAPT meeting and also included tips for making Agile successful. See presentation link below. Several of the speakers were from Defense departments and provided good insights.

The Keynote speaker, Dr. Steven J. Hutchison, provided some compelling information starting with his problem statement. He showed the workflow diagram of the defense acquisition process. Dr. Hutchison also showed some compelling information where test integrates throughout the lifecycle process this includes all testing types including OT and others.

Dr. Robert Charette followed with an solid reminder about risk management. The specific types of risk that Dr. Charette discussed included acquisition and that the acquisition folks must be involved. Dr. Charette also cautioned us that several good past change efforts have failed.

Mr. Tony Stout did an excellent job focusing on the people the qualities of good teams and how to build a quality workforce, specifically in Agile environments. This was the second speaker from a test focus. I find this refreshing.

Mr. Ronald Pontius is heading the Council on the changes to governance in order to support agile development. Mr. Pontius updated us on the responses from several agencies and working groups to support section 804 http://www.defense.gov/pubs/pdfs/804Reportfeb2007.pdf.

Speaking at PMO Symposium 2011

I just finished speaking at the PMO Symposium 2011 http://www.pmosymposium.org this morning. This has been a great conference focusing on how do organizations deliver value. Historically, there has been a lot of challenges between PMOs and software teams, notably in the Agile space. Many of the conflicts are misunderstandings. The true conflicts can be addressed better when we start migrating from constraint-driven to value-driven management. Many people asserted that the PMO’s need to help organizations achieve success through Lean and Agile principles, practices and methods.

My presentation addressed the issues of communication between business and agile teams. Traditional EVM makes no sense in software (and is potentially harmful) because claiming value earned based on intermediate work products–without an assertion of quality–does not provide reasonable forecasts. Agile provides an assertable and inspectable quality. Also, by ordering in terms of highest Business Value and risk considerations along with potentially shippable increments, I believe starts to include notions of value. Still, AgileEVM measures performance against plans (that can be re-baselined every iteration if needed). AgileEVM integrates cost management. Doing it well means not giving up what Agile offers: adaptive planning, quality.

Integrating Quality into Portfolio Management, PMI Silicon Valley Chapter Dinner Meeting Jan 2011

This presentation focused on two themes: asserting quality – an opportunity agile presents – and leveraging adaptive planning, which is a consequence of agile software development. AgileEVM became a big part of this talk when the audience requested more information about it at dinner.

The Changing Role of Middle Managers

This is an exercise that we run to help understand how manager’s roles change.   This is a re-posting of a session at Agile Open Northwest 2009 [[http://bit.ly/hrLemn]].  I opened with stories describing the reality that Senior Leadership is declaring their companies are “going Agile,” and that doing it well presents many difficulties. A potentially intractable problem centers on equipping Middle Managers to be supportive of agility within the business strategy. For sure, their job needs to change from a little to a lot. This is an exercise first described by Pete Deemer [[http://bit.ly/aufy23]].

Defining Middle Managers for this Discussion

We need a definition to continue. In this session we settled on

  • Not Senior Leadership
  • Not individual contributors
  • Intermediaries at any level in between

The discussion of a team versus individuals did not force us to reject this definition as sufficient.

Gather and Process Data

We broke into small teams of 3-5 people and wrote down the “things managers do:” one per sticky note

Next, we had the groups integrate (removing duplicates as we go) their work onto two flip charts labeled:

  • Fine in Agile
  • Conflicts with (or not needed) in Agile

We then reviewed the “Fine in Agile” information. With a bit of work, this could turn into a valid job description.

In the “Conflicts with (or not needed) in Agile” area we realized we could convert this into an action list to change to role of manager for the better.  We also found items that could be re-written in opposite form and included into the job description (e.g. Change “maintain status quo” to “challenge status quo”).

The “Hook”

Then we asked:

  • Would you be more or less useful if your role was like this (pointing to the “Fine in Agile set of roles)?
  • Would your job be more or less interesting if your role was like this?

The majority of everyone who answers these questions would prefer to have a job like the one described on the “Fine in Agile” chart.


  • This can be run with Managers to help them define their new roles
  • This can be run with teams to provide input into the organization
  • Take these to Senior Leadership and HR (Who else?) and help equip the organizations middle managers to support Agile!

Webinar Nov 19: Translating Points to Dollars

This fall we are launching a webinar series on the potential of Earned Value Management to transform Agile development organizations.  You are cordially invited to join us for the first session –

Translating Points to Dollars:  Agile EVM and Project Portfolio Management

Friday, November 19, 9:30-10:30 PST

Agile teams speak in points and iterations, but business managers think in terms of dates and dollars.   This conceptual and language barrier makes strategic business planning and reporting a significant challenge for Agile teams.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • How to bridge the “Points vs. Dollars” language barrier to simplify project portfolio management, address the needs of strategic planners, and reduce the overhead of “managing up”.
  • How Agile development teams use AgileEVM to more quickly identify cost, schedule, scope and quality issues on Agile projects.

You will see real-life examples of AgileEVM in action, and you’ll learn why the AgileEVM application has galvanized Agile thought leaders and executives from leading IT and commercial product organizations.  You’ll also learn from Barton’s and Sterling’s own experience as Agile development team leaders, consultants and instructors.  An interactive Q&A session will further enrich the discussion.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

About the Presenter:
AgileEVM cofounders Brent Barton and Chris Sterling created the AgileEVM application to bridge the gap between Agile methodologies and traditional business metrics, so that organizations can better plan, manage, and realize the full value of IT investments.

Brent Barton’s executive management background and nearly two decades of experience in software technology gives him the ability to provide valuable guidance concerning engineering capability and organizational proficiency.  Brent has used Agile practices for a decade to help small, medium and Fortune 100 organizations overcome seemingly intractable problems and successfully deliver mission-critical solutions.

Update: Slides are now available:

Boeing Webinar – Integrating Quality in Portfolio Management – oct 2010

Brent Barton and Chris Sterling presented this at a webinar for Boeing.
View more presentations from Brent Barton.

Integrating Quality into Portfolio Management

Chris and I presented “Integrating Quality into Portfolio Management” at the BayAPLN last night.  I played the role of Earl and Chris played Geoff in several vignettes that described several conversations at different stages of the most strategic initiatives in the company.

1.  We just finished our annual portfolio planning.  Geoff is in great shape because his Saturn Alpha release went so well.  Earl let’s him know he is doing great and keep it up.

2.  Later (several months) Geoff comes to Earl with a problem.  They need to slip the schedule!  Defects are spiraling out of control.  Earl is so upset because everything is impacted because of dependencies.  Earl yells in helpless frustration, “Just get it done!”

3.  Still later (several iterations) Geoff comes back to Earl.  The goal of every iteration has been “Integrate.”  Dependencies are causing huge problems.  Still, things are better.  Forecasts are converging and it looks like a release is becoming predictable.  Earl wants to know how he can help prevent this in the future because it looks like he will keep his job after all.

Quality bit Earl hard…Strategic Planners and Portfolio Planners must understand quality or schedules will be at risk.  Quality problems often reveal themselves late in release cycles when options are few.