The Agile Executive

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Posts Tagged ‘Governance

Schedule Constraints in the Devops Triangle

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Last week’s post “The Devops Triangle” demonstrated the extension of Jim Highsmith‘s Agile Triangle to devops. The extension relied on adding compliance to the three traditional constraints of software development: scope, schedule, cost. A graphical representation of this extension is given in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Compliance as the Fourth Constraint in Devops Projects

This blog post examines how time/schedule should be governed in the devops context. It does so by building on the concluding observation in the previous post:

The Devops Triangle and the corresponding Tradeoff Matrix demonstrate how governance a la Agile can be extended to devops projects as far as compliance goes. The proposed governance framework however is incomplete in the following sense: schedule in devops projects can be a much more granular and stringent constraint than schedule in “dev only” projects.

For the schedule constraint in devops, I propose a schedule set.  It consists of  four components:

  • Lead Time or Engineering Time
  • Time to change
  • Time to deploy
  • Time to roll back

Lead Time/Engineering Time: These are customary metrics used in Kanban software development, as demonstrated in Figure 3.

Figure 3: The Engineering Time Metric Used by the BBC (David Joyce in the LSSC10 Conference)

Time to change: The amount of time it takes for the various stakeholders (e.g., dev, test, ops, customer support) to review the code to be deployed, approve its deployment and assign a time window for the deployment.

Time to deploy: The amount of time from (metaphorically speaking) pushing the Deploy “button” to completion of deployment.

Time to roll back: The amount of time to undo a deployment. (Rigorous that the engineering practices and IT processes might be, the time to roll back a deployment can’t be ignored – it is a critical risk parameter).

A graphical representation of these four schedule metrics together with the Devops Triangle is given in the figure below:

Figure 4: The Devops Triangle with a Schedule Set

Using hours as the common unit of measure, a typical schedule set could be {100, 48, 3, 2}. In this hypothetical example, it takes a little over 4 days to carry out the development of the code increment; 2 days to get approval for the change; 3 hours to deploy the code; and, 2 hours to roll back.

Whatever your specific schedule numbers might be, it is highly recommended you apply value stream mapping (see Figure 5 below) to your schedule set. Based on the findings of the value stream mapping, apply statistical process control methods like those illustrated in Figure 3 to continuously improving both the mean and the variances of the four schedule components.

Figure 5: An Example of Value Stream Mapping (Source: Wikipedia entry on the subject)

Extending the Scope of The Agile Executive

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For the past 18 months Michael Cote and I focused The Agile Executive on software methods, processes and governance. Occasional posts on cloud computing and devops have been supplementary in nature. Structural changes in the industry have generally been left to be covered by other blogs (e.g.  Cote’s Redmonk blog).

We have recently reached the conclusion that The Agile Executive needs to cover structural changes in order to give a forward-looking view to its readers. Two reasons drove us to this conclusion:

  • The rise of software testing as a service. The importance of this trend was summarized in Israel’s recent Cutter blog post “Changing Playing Fields“:

Consider companies like BrowserMob (acquired earlier this month by NeuStar), Feedback Army,  Mob4Hire,  uTest (partnered with SOASTA a few months ago), XBOSoft and others. These companies combine web and cloud economics with the effectiveness and efficiency of crowdsourcing. By so doing, they change the playing fields of software delivery…

  • The rise of devops. The line between dev and ops, or at least between dev and web ops, is becoming fuzzier and fuzzier.

As monolithic software development and delivery processes get deconstructed, the structural changes affect methods, processes and governance alike. Hence, discussion of Agile topics in this blog will not be complete without devoting a certain amount of “real estate” to these two changes (software testing as a service and devops) and others that are no doubt forthcoming. For example, it is a small step from testing as a service to development as a service in the true sense of the word – through crowdsourcing, not through outsourcing.

I asked a few friends to help me cover forthcoming structural changes that are relevant to Agile. Their thoughts will be captured through either guest posts or interviews. In these posts/interviews we will explore topics for their own sake. We will connect the dots back to Agile by referencing these posts/interviews in the various posts devoted to Agile. Needless to say, Agile posts will continue to constitute the vast majority of posts in this blog.

We will start the next week with a guest post by Peter McGarahan and an interview with Annie Shum. Stay tuned…

Technical Debt at Cutter

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No, this post is not about technical debt we identified in the software systems used by the Cutter Consortium to drive numerous publications, events and engagements. Rather, it is about various activities carried out at Cutter to enhance the state of the art and make the know-how available to a broad spectrum of IT professionals who can use technical debt engagements to pursue technical and business opportunities.

The recently announced Cutter Technical Debt Assessment and Valuation service is quite unique IMHO:

  1. It is rooted in Agile principles and theory but applicable to any software method.
  2. It combines the passion, empowerment and collaboration of Agile with the rigor of quantified performance measures, process control techniques and strategic portfolio management.
  3. It is focused on enlightened governance through three simple metrics: net present value, cost and technical debt.

Here are some details on our current technical debt activities:

  1. John Heintz joined the Cutter Consortium and will be devoting a significant part of his time to technical debt work. I was privileged and honored to collaborate with colleagues Ken Collier, Jonathon Golden and Chris Sterling in various technical debt engagements. I can’t wait to work with them, John and other Cutter consultants on forthcoming engagements.
  2. John and I will be jointly presenting on the subject Toxic Code in the Agile Roots conference next week. In this presentation we will demonstrate how the hard lesson learned during the sub-prime loans crisis apply to software development. For example, we will be discussing development on margin…
  3. My Executive Report entitled Revolution in Software: Using Technical Debt Techniques to Govern the Software Development Process will be sent to Cutter clients in the late June/early July time-frame. I don’t think I had ever worked so hard on a paper. The best part is it was labor of love….
  4. The main exercise in my Agile 2010 workshop How We Do Things Around Here in Order to Succeed is about applying Agile governance through technical debt techniques across organizations and cultures. Expect a lot of fun in this exercise no matter what your corporate culture might be – Control, Competence, Cultivation or Collaboration.
  5. John and I will be doing a Cutter webinar on Reining in Technical Debt on Thursday, August 19 at 12 noon EDT. Click here for details.
  6. A Cutter IT Journal (CITJ) on the subject of technical debt will be published in the September-October time-frame. I am the guest editor for this issue of the CITJ. We have nine great contributors who will examine technical debt from just about every possible perspective. I doubt that we have the ‘real estate’ for additional contributions, but do drop me a note if you have intriguing ideas about technical debt. I will do my best to incorporate your thoughts with proper attribution in my editorial preamble for this issue of the CITJ.
  7. Jim Highsmith and I will jointly deliver a seminar entitled Technical Debt Assessment: The Science of Software Development Governance in the forthcoming Cutter Summit. This is really a wonderful ‘closing of the loop’ for me: my interest in technical debt was triggered by Jim’s presentation How to Be an Agile Leader in the Agile 2006 conference.

Standing back to reflect on where we are with respect to technical debt at Cutter, I see a lot of things coming nicely together: Agile, technical debt, governance, risk management, devops, etc. I am not certain where the confluence of all these threads, and possibly others, might lead us. However, I already enjoy the adrenaline rush this confluence evokes in me…

The Executive’s Workshop for Scaling Agile to The Enterprise

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Readers of this blog are well aware of my keen interest in enterprise level Agile. I am now offering a specialized workshop for executives on this topic.

The Executive’s Workshop for Scaling Agile to The Enterprise

This one day workshop and free follow-on coaching service prepares executives for their roles in large-scale Agile implementation.

This workshop is ideal for building a shared understanding of your company’s Agile goals and practices amongst members of the leadership team. It illustrates how executives could/should engage in the Agile process in a meaningful manner, and includes strategies for addressing common challenges.  Your team will see how to govern Agile effectively, and most importantly, you’ll learn proven practices for attaining the operational, financial and business benefits of a successful enterprise-level Agile implementation.

Objectives

Agile is shown to cut the cost, improve the flexibility and shorten time-to-market of software-driven projects. Upon completion of this service, executive teams will be able to:

  • Scale Agile to the enterprise level
  • Minimize risks associated with large-scale Agile rollout
  • Apply Agile practices in development and beyond
  • Galvanize the team around a shared, cross-functional Agile vision

Approach

The Executive’s Workshop for Scaling Agile to The Enterprise service is divided into three parts, each designed to help company leaders accelerate their adoption of Agile.

Part I: Preparation via phone interviews and web-based coaching. The workshop leader works with your executive team to gather context, discuss logistics and focus the on-site workshop on your needs.

Part II: One day on-site workshop is delivered through combination of presentation, examples, exercises and participant discussion.

Part III: Free telephone coaching and mentoring with the Workshop Leader for six months after the workshop. The objective is to help executives respond effectively to the challenges they encounter in the course of implementing Agile.

On-Site Workshop Details

Leading an enterprise adoption of Agile requires that you understand the key concepts, principles and practices of Agile without getting bogged down in technical details.  You must learn techniques for handling the expected “noise” associated with organizational change while identifying the critical tasks needing your attention and leadership to succeed. The workshop is designed to address these challenges with a minimal investment of time.

Here is an overview of the key topics you will add to your experience set:

Explaining the Rationale for Agile to Your Company

  • Why now?
  • What is the state of the art in Agile and what is our goal
  • Expected return on our Agile investment

How The Agile Process Fits into Your Company:

  • Understanding Agile as an example of  other common,  iterative, quality-oriented processes
  • How Agile works with other software development life cycle processes
  • How to run a heterogeneous software development environment that mixes Waterfall, Agile and other methods
  • Connecting Agile to your budgeting process
  • How to perform governance and portfolio management with Agile

How to Implement Agile:

  • Choosing suitable projects for Agile methods
  • Rollout strategies that mitigate risks
  • Keeping departments aligned during the Agile rollout
  • Defining the social contract for Agile
  • How to make Agile sustainable in your particular culture
  • How Agile impacts your partner eco-system
  • Succeeding with off-shoring and outsourcing

Setting Up The Agile Enterprise:

  • Determining your performance metrics for Agile
  • How to negotiate Agile contracts
  • Achieving breakthrough innovation through Agile
  • Business designs that utilize the power of Agile

Price and Availability

Energy from New York

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In her recent post on the Rally event in Los AngelesJean characterized the energy in the room as “electric!” Yesterday’s event in New York was characterized by similar energy. There was something in the air – folks having a great time learning about and discussing the subtle points of the art of making great software.

 

Governance was a major topic for the participants in NYC. Those representing financial institutes highlighted the inevitable delay and disruption to the process that change control boards cause. Media folks indicated how difficult it is to reconcile the editorial process with the technical process. A disconnect seems to be happening in both cases: Agile is not broadly accepted beyond certain scale, nor by all corporate functions. Hence, various attempts to “harness” Agile, to only use it selectively.

 

 

Governance seems to be applied more pedantically these days due to cost cutting measures. In particular, experimentation is frowned at in many place. The simple fact that Agile fosters innovation through affordable experimentation is not fully understood. Nor are the precious life-cycle effects of innovation adequately comprehended.

 

 

I came out of the NYC event convinced that we as a movement have a great opportunity on our hands. What we -Agilists – do works quite well. The need clearly exists to elevate Agile to the enterprise level. We will be solving a real problem in so doing.

 

 

 

Written by israelgat

April 3, 2009 at 8:52 am