I’m live here at the Denver Agile Success Tour on yet another warm, blue sky day downtown by the Convention Center.  I will blog what I pick up as the key takeaways from our speakers and after the event we’ll get them to chime in with their own thoughts.

Israel GatCutter Consortium member on Agile, former VP from BMC, IBM, Microsoft and EMC

A Modus of our Time – The industry has “One foot in cold water and one foot in hot water”

Tons of enthusiasm about Agile given years of outsourcing, while also having lots of hard data showing how time-to-market, productivity and quality are improved with Agile.

But, still falling short by not pulling in the customer.  We assume we know the customer problem and work hard to develop the solution.  The speed and reach of software is immense.

Ray Bagley – Director of Development of 3D Modeling solutions at Spatial

Spatial – 20 year old products with 4 million lines of code. Developers spread across 3 offices (Colorado, UK, Pune). Top-down adoption started with a new VP two years ago.

“Product Owner is not Product Manager” – Read all the books on Agile. Early on divided up the product managers to support multiple scrum teams, but tons of pathology happened. The Product Managers stopped looking outward!  Then, a collision of two product managers on one product.  Finally, the senior and highly skilled development team felt like they lost all their decision making and influence.

Iteration 2 – Created Meta Scrums that met every two development iterations and life got much better. Added more product owners. Life is much better thanks to Rally and Enthiosys content -  I wish we had found that material two years ago!

“There is a difference between a real customer and a virtual customer on two different products” – “Real customers engage on day 1, not with a beta!”  The case of these two products was night and day – night (solved the wrong problem after 8 months) and day (driving revenue from the first release).

“Humble lessons learn the hard way!”

Lloyd Star – VP Development at Beatport – Digital download network like iTunes but specifically for DJ’s.  Several internal teams and two offshore teams in India with stakeholders in Denver, Berlin and London.

20 months into adoption – “Many great changes, but far from complete with our adoption.”

There have been four clear “states” of our Agile adoption so far.  (Cool state transition diagram of these states – If you read this blog often, you know how much I love state transition diagrams for Agile adoption.  It is really about taking incremental moves to change the engines while the airplane is in air!)

State 1 – Iterations and weak backlog. Just jumped in, but we did not whip our quality issues and 3 week release process.

State 2 – Discovered the Product Owner role and the value of meetings when way up (CEO and CTO are both DJ’s and act as customers).  “We understood the need for well elaborated stories and acceptance criteria.”

State 3 – Got the stakeholder more involved and made the backlog more clear and stopped over-elaborating far off stories.  “The best part is the collaboration and negotiation went way up!” The art of software was starting to appear and drive trust across the company.

First two states were focused on the software team, but now states 3 and 4 are focused on the larger team and company.

State 4 – Integrating vision and release planning to drive enterprise architecture.  Moved Research into Development and got IT/Operations team in synchronization with the development release cycles. Huge increase in throughput of new working code to market.

See what State 5 of the transition is but have not started this.  All focused on enterprise architecture in state 4 to manage all these moving pieces and keeping them aligned with the business.  Don’t confuse the Agile development process with the architectural process.

Clear call to actions:

  1. Keep your release small and focused
  2. Hired a very experienced Agile product owner
  3. Have your architecture “live with your team”
  4. Planning takes time, but it critical for alignment

Peggy Reed – Director of Performance Solutions at Avaya – 30 years of experience in software started in 1979 in writing Motorola code

Beautiful Software – Readability, Simplicity, Functional Locality, Single Function, System Minimality, Appropriate Form, Cooperative

NOT DOES IT WORK! – Is it pleasant, comfortable, seductive?  It has to be something a customer wants to use!

Beautiful teams make beautiful software – Needs shared vision, deep understanding, harmony in the Scrum, empathy of the customer perspective.

Beautiful teams must – Keep the base stable through Agile development of frequent public builds that integrate across the whole.  Have to always be testing with an equal balance.  Completion is a measured by ALL parts of the team.  Sometimes this is hard for existing teams to break the old habits.

Beautiful software teams talk a ton about their failures.  What we wished we had done. Talk about dependencies on each other.  Talk about feature-itis and which features really drive revenue.  Talk about teamwork and team awareness.  No longer software development by  solos and prayer.

Value of us comes from creating beautiful teams that create beautiful software in a creative way – a way that can not be outsourced or automated!

Peter Fisher – MIS Product Manager at eCollege – Working on Scrum for the last two years Pearson eCollege online learning with teams in Denver and Sri Lanka

Were a very large waterfall team with huge business requirements document – Informal adoption started in 2007 and formal training started in mid 2008.  Four releases since mid-2008 versus 1 and no more “bug builds.” Have been able to build the quality in from day 1.

Now developers are focused on building what they need to meet the tests and not their own vision.  Key to this was delivering to the integration server continuously.  As a result, the “come backs” of release went way down.  Only released to staging and production once.

This dramatically increased the speed of the team and clear visibility has allowed us to react at each two week iteration with strict prioritization.  As a result, were not delivering the wrong or unwanted features.  Throughput is going up.

Israel Gat – on his adoption experience at BMC Software

Four simple principles make the secret sauce of enterprise scale adoption at BMC.  It is all about mindset and not the practices.

In year 1 from zero to 350 scrumers in Rally at BMC.  He now showed the Cutter Consortium / QSMA slide of BMC Productivity Index of 27 versus an average of 6 to 16 in other software types.

“How many of your teams come to work on Monday determined to produce poor quality software?”  Agile teams do not have this mindset.

Principle 1 – Leadership and social contract with the team.

Principle 2 – Know How – I used Rally with a 50/50 spend on professional services and coaching while the other 50% was used for Rally’s application – this combination was critical to go as fast as we did.

Principle 3 – Flexibility - You have to take the adoption incrementally and iteratively.

Principle 4 – Patience - You can not Agile the Agile – you are changing the software, the process and the organizational structure.

More to follow this afternoon from the event…

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