Enterprise CIODecisions

Guiding technology decision makers in the enterprise
InsIdE: Agile BI a Work in Progress sOA and Agile spur Business Growth Agile: The Competitive Edge

december 2011 volume 11

x 1111111111111111111 1111111111111111111 Project: 1111111111111111111 Agile 1111111111111111111 Learn how Agile 1111111111111111111 methodologies 1111111111111111111 can breathe new 1111111111111111111 life into your project management 1111111111111111111 programs. 1111111111111111111 1111111111111111111 1111111111111111111 1111111111111111111 1111111111111111111
The Importance of a sustainable Pace Overcoming Obstacles with Agile A Journey from Waterfall to Agile
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Agility Where It Matters Most
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Agile: the Competitive edge

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A Journey from wAterfAll to Agile

of subjects that are worthy of their own manifesto, project management (Pm) likely would not be at the top of the list. manifestos are reserved for revolutionary, history-altering concepts, like communism and, in the technology world, open source. Project management is, well, dull by comparison. but as we all know, project management is about how things really get done. For years, that meant following traditional Pm methods, which can be rigid and tightly controlled. Nontraditional, aka Agile, methods, have turned that model on its head. In its own way, Agile, which has been around since the 1990s, has revolutionized Pm, and hence got its name in 2001 with the Agile Manifesto. In this edition of the Enterprise CIO Decisions Ezine, SearchCIO.com looks at the impact Agile is having on Pm within IT departments and beyond. SearchCIO.com contributor Niel Nickolaisen can speak firsthand about both sides of the Agile divide, before and after. He points out that the flaws of traditional Pm methods are uniquely addressed by the advantages of Agile methods: Stakeholders can see projects as they develop and give immediate feedback without goWhen you think

ing through a lengthy change process. Agile has became a “revolution” at General Electric, leading GE executives to ask, “Why can’t we introduce Agile across the entire company?” reports SearchCIO.com News Director Christina Torode. Agile is a resultsdriven technique, which points out flaws quickly rather than at the end of a project. “If anything failed, it failed within minutes, versus finding out in hours or days,” said Paul Rogers, executive manager of GE’s Software Solutions Group. Agile expert Joseph Flahiff also outlines best practices and what aspects of scope, budget and schedule affect how you can implement Agile methods. In a world where the pace of change is increasing rapidly, Agile makes a lot of sense. CIOs can be leaders within corporations by spreading the gospel of the revolutionary methods, and breathe life into innovation not only in IT, but across the enterprise as well. Scot Petersen Editorial Director CIO/IT Strategy Media spetersen@techtarget .com
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ON THE JOB

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Agile BI a Work in Progress
Petabyte

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data warehouse? Check! Scalable to thousands of users? Check! Every business intelligence (bI) feature imaginable? Check! Agile bI? “One thing we do not yet know how to do well is agility,” acknowledged boris Evelson, a principal analyst at Cambridge, mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. Evelson has been covering bI for some 30 years, and has seen scalable, powerful, stable bI become a reality at companies with enough money and know-how. “I don’t want to say it is a commodity, but we know how to do that.” On the other hand, Agile business intelligence—the ability to react faster to the ever-increasing speed of business change—remains “challenge No. 1,” Evelson said.

One of the reasons it remains elusive for most CIOs, Evelson said, is that bI software is different from almost any other enterprise application. With ERP or customer relationship management, for example, once the requirements are defined and the software either procured or developed in-house, IT can expect a shelf life for that software of 12 to 36 months, with minor modifications. “With bI, if you do that, when you roll out the first iteration, it is already too late. The world changes way too fast,” he said. Given that CIOs can’t do much about the pace of change, how do they get to Agile business intelligence? In Evelson’s view, it requires an Agile software development methodology—which relies on prototyping rather than specifications—and an Agile organizational structure. Not that either is easy to develop, especially the organizational structure. CIOs and their bI experts understand
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that silos are bad for bI, he said. but so is centralization, because “shared services are anything but Agile.” What’s needed is a middle ground, a nuanced set of guidelines for handling bI. That requires a hard-nosed discussion about which apps need to be in a central area (mission-critical ones, for example) and which nice-tohave, ad hoc apps should stay where they are. There are also plenty of technologies that can make a bI environment more Agile. Forrester has a list of about 20, Evelson said, from cloud and mobility for bI infrastructure and delivery to inverted indexes and inmemory analytics, an approach he said is suitable for as much as 90% of bI efforts. “Think of in-memory as Excel on steroids. It has all the flexibility of Excel but also the power of traditional bI tools, like virtualization,” Evelson said. QlikTech International Ab’s QlikView

and microsoft’s PowerPivot each take an in-memory approach to bI. Of course, the flexibility these tools provide also represents a “huge

There are plenty of technologies that can make a BI environment more Agile. Forrester has a list of 20.
danger,” Evelson hastens to add. IT cannot control what users do in Excel, and the same is true for in-memory tools: One person’s analysis of customer profitability is not going to be the same as another’s. “You have to be smart,” Evelson said. “If it is a mission-critical app where nothing less than 100% accuracy is good enough, then in-memory analytics is not the right choice.”
—lINdA TuccI

ON THE AGENDA

Adopting Agile Thirty-four percent of 455 respondents to a recent readership survey by SearchSoftwareQuality.com reported that they currently use Agile. Twelve percent have plans to implement Agile within the next 12 months.
SOURCE: SEaRChSOftwaREQUality.COm, 2011.

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WHAT’S THIS?

Your Guide to Agile Terminology
agile: The ability to be adaptable. Daily scrum: A daily meeting in which the team answers three questions and only three: What did I complete yesterday? What do I commit to completing today? What are my impediments? The focus is on commitment and interdependencies. iteration: A fixed, regular and repeating period of time in which a piece of work is created and delivered by a project team. iteration backlog: A list of tasks the team has committed to execute in order to create the increment of working software for that sprint. Product backlog: A list of items the product owner would like created. Project backlog: A list of items the product owner or project leadership has defined as the scope of the project.

Release: Working software that will provide value to the customer. Sprint: An iteration in Scrum projects. Story: A shorthand way of writing requirements for an Agile project. Writing requirements in the form of a story forces a focus on who the customer is and what the customer wants from the feature. Story card: A story card is a promise of a conversation. It is not intended to describe a requirement in any depth but is merely a placeholder to remind the customer representative and developers to discuss this item and add more detail in time to create it. It’s often written on an index card. epic or epic story: A parent story card, which describes a large set of features that are then put separately onto story cards. time box: A fixed period of time. Agile practitioners use time boxes to focus and limit the amount of detail that is covered. Time-boxing a discussion keeps the team focused and prevents off-topic or unnecessarily detailed discussions.
—JoSePH FlAHIFF

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ONE ON ONE:

SOA and Agile Spur Business Growth
Neal Kaderabek titLe: CIO and executive director tiMe in thiS RoLe: Four years oRGaniZation: Hallmark Services Corp. (HSC) heaDQuaRteRS: Naperville, Ill. eMPLoyeeS: more than 750 it StaFF MeMbeRS: 80
naMe:

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How can a service-oriented architecture help streamline an organization? Consider Hallmark Services Corp. (HSC), which administers the health insurance policies of more than 1.4 million members and is a division of Health Care Services Corp. (HCSC). CIO and Executive Director Neal Kaderabek embarked on an IT business transformation project that re-engineered business processes and replaced dated IT systems through a service-oriented architecture strategy and Agile project management methodology. can you share what was happening in the market HSc serves that made the leadership decide it was time to rebuild the company’s IT infrastructure?

There were three main drivers for this change, the first being a strategy of positioning, making ourselves ready for the future. We believed that, without this modernization that we embarked on here at Hallmark, we would not be as agile or as flexible as we needed to be in a health care reform marketplace. So, as part of that positioning, we expect our membership to double in size from our current state by 2014. So we recognized that the past of just using human-resource brute force was not going to allow us to be competitive, hence the modernization for the positioning. The second piece was cost effectiveness. With health care reform, there are price and government mandates that are put in place that are requiring the heath care insurance carriers to be very lean and mean when it comes to administrative expense. Our focus now is trying to make sure we have as much automation in place, and customer self-service in place, to drive down costs. The third is basically what every organization is trying to do, which is protect their brand and reputation. For this project, you decided to go with a services-oriented architecture. Why was that the right approach? Cost effectiveness and positioning. With the new services approach that we’re using, it enables us to reuse business logic for both internal- and
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external-facing business applications. The reuse reduces the length of time it takes us to build applications and system, as well as reduces the complexity we have in the systems. Also, modifying applications quickly to meet the business demand is very beneficial for not only cost effectiveness, but quick time to market as well. Today, with this new modernization, we change services once and the change is available across the enterprise. Previously, we had duplicated business logic in numerous, disparate systems. So we’ve eliminated repetitive business logic, and I know that sounds redundant, but that certainly added tons of complexity and increased the chance of human error that we had here at Hallmark. To drive the point home to my IT and business colleagues, I humorously say, “With services, we can be consistently right or consistently wrong, but at least we can say we’re consistent.” Then … positioning for the future is our second key reason for this modernization, using a services architecture. In the realm of health care reform, [insurance] carriers that are able to adapt quickly to pre- and post-health care reform regulations will likely prosper in this market. Services that we built allow us to make changes much faster than we’ve ever been able to in past. Today, we are far more Agile than we’ve ever been here at Hallmark.

Can you talk about the agile approach that you did use, and why it was needed? I’m a strong believer in success breeding success, and the Agile practices that we use break up the project into very, very small parts—parts that can be delivered in some cases in two weeks, at most in eight weeks. Using the Agile practices, we’re able to have small victories, which boost the confidence of the project team that, indeed, what we say we’re going to do, we do. We also use the Agile approach because it’s very effective when it’s being used externally. So, for example, insurance agents are using our applications, and we like to roll out the enhancements to our insurance agents with an Agile approach so that they can get comfortable with just parts and pieces, which make it less disruptive in their own business office. Plus, it allows the agents to give us feedback on much smaller components so that we can go ahead and make those changes very quickly. A lot of times, their feedback at its very initial stages would require us to make some fundamental architecture changes, and you’d want to make those fundamental architecture changes much earlier in the project rather than waiting later in the project or even, heaven forbid, post project. That’s why we prefer the Agile approach, versus the waterfall approach. —cHrISTINA Torode

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Agile:
The Competitive Edge
with agile and lean practices, cios are taking charge of operations and achieving business transformation. BY CHRISTINA TORODE
gain more traction in the enterprise, the C-suite is increasingly relying on IT to enable the business to deliver not only faster time to market, but also faster time to business value. Consider british Airways PLC (bA), which recently launched an iPad application to give cabin service directors up-to-the-minute information on the preferences of executive club members. The application went from idea to production in 90 days using Agile practices. Early demos of the application were given to the service directors, and their feedback played a key role in the ultimate design. These directors in turn gave direct feedback to bA’s business leadership team, which in
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turn “reinforced the positive view of the project and IT delivery,” said mike Croucher, head of IT architecture and delivery at bA. Economic necessity spurred the London-based airline to adopt Agile practices. “During the economic slowdown in 2008, a focus on generating new revenue led us to using Agile to both drive the business proposition and develop IT,” he said. Agile practices allowed bA to develop new services, as well as make changes to existing programs. Often the payback period for these investments was less than a month. The concept behind bA’s Agile practices is to go live with a minimal set of functions to derive an early ROI, Croucher said. The process also
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prioritizes requirements by value. Projects are stopped once the majority of the agreed-upon benefits are achieved. Then the Agile team moves on to the next idea.

CioS takinG the LeaD With aGiLe
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For Dan Simpson, CIO at Trustmark Cos., Agile practices pave the way to business transformation. “Change is escalating, increasing; it’s not going to stop. We’ve all heard those sayings before. The question is, are you ready to participate in and lead change?” Simpson said. Simpson was brought in to helm a business transformation project at the Lake Forest, Ill.-based insurance company, after accomplishing a major transformation at his previous company, Physicians mutual Insurance Co. in Omaha, Neb. There, the business transformation project involved swapping out legacy systems for reusable services that created a single view of information for customers and employees. At Physicians mutual, Simpson’s plan of attack had involved a serviceoriented architecture, or SOA, in which components of the new billing and collection system, for example, were reused in other systems, such as payment management services. He used Agile practices to shorten delivery times. As a result, a calendar year was shaved off the release cycle for the payment management services. “We decided to implement close

to 40 new projects as part of the business transformation effort over a period of years,” Simpson said. “Iterative development using Agile methods was our ‘Agile version’ for those projects.” That iterative approach was how he and business leaders determined whether IT understood user requirements during the development process, he said.

aGiLe PRaCtiCeS tRanSFoRMeD

“Agile and lean are the first practices I’ve seen in 20-plus years that are truly helping to solve the businessIT alignment issue, “ said Alex Adamopoulos, CEO at New York-based Emergn, an Agile and lean consulting firm whose customers include bA, Standard Life PLC and british Telecom. He said that for the past two years, he has seen Agile practices move beyond software development into corporate project and portfolio management. In turn, this movement has led CIOs to become more involved in project management discussions. “The CIO is spending more time with business heads and portfolio heads, becoming a true partner to them, versus [IT being] a cost center,” Adamopoulos said. The benefits of combining Agile practices with lean methodologies are becoming so pronounced that one day a new term that encompasses both will emerge, according to Forrester Research Inc. It makes sense,
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said Dave West, vice president and research director at the Cambridge, mass.-based consultancy. “If you’re doing [an Agile] sprint of only three weeks, you bet you have to reduce waste, and you bet you have to economize the amount of functionality, the delivery and the code writing. It’s a natural segue from Agile to lean.” General Electric Co.’s Software Solutions Group (SSG), which is replacing a mix of software development methods, including waterfall, with Agile practices, appreciates the connection. Its next step is interjecting lean into the process, not only for software development but also across such other GE business lines as the engineering division, said Paul Rogers, executive manager of SSG. “We’ve gotten a lot out of Agile, but it is lean that makes you hyperproductive.” Lean “optimizes the whole lifecycle” of work, Adamopoulos said, and its goal is to remove as much waste as possible. Combined, Agile and lean will focus a project on three things:
n

Value, to ensure that the team is working on the right projects. Flow, so the team is working on the right projects in the right order. Quality, to make sure that quality is built in early enough in the process.

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lean, and many of the practices are synonymous,” even if the terms differ, Adamopoulos said. “In the lean world, they use the term kanban board. In the Agile world, it’s called a storyboard, but they’re identical. It’s a big wall with four columns and Post-its.” Agile practices, combined with lean, allow for midcourse project corrections, which are difficult to achieve with traditional project management approaches. They also simplify release cycles through iterations, and reduce waste and complexity. Companies should be prepared, however, for a rough ride initially. The other side of the Agile/lean coin is culture shock, experts warn: business and IT groups might have a hard time adjusting to monthly or even weekly releases of new features. Lean practices will rein in Agile release cycles, but governance is needed, too. bA, Physicians mutual and GE, for example, all have governance plans. “The business is the information owner, and IT is the steward of data,” Simpson said. “We implemented the business transformation project, but the business was driving prioritization around our work. The [business transformation] program was a collaborative effort, but it was governed by a business steering committee. They determined which piece of information we delivered first.”
Christina torode is news director for SearchCiO. com. write to her at ctorode@techtarget.com.

“Value, flow and quality [together are] a means of defining Agile and

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the importance of a sustainable pace

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Sustainable Pace
it’s up to agile project management leaders to set a realistic timeline for their projects. BY josEph flahiff
one oF the

The Importance of a

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12 principles of Agile project management contained in the Agile manifesto is that these processes promote sustainable development and developers should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. but what does the term sustainable pace mean? Like many concepts, it means different things to different people, but I have found that a good analogy for setting a sustainable pace in the software world can be found in athletics. my brother Daniel recently began participating in triathlons, races that include running, swimming and bicycling for long distances. The Ironman triathlon that is held in Hawaii is a well-known example. The training and discipline it takes to participate amaze me. I have never seen my brother look better in his life.

Here’s another type of athletics: my daughters, JoHanna and Jillian, are competitive Irish dancers. When they compete, they work very hard to instill explosive energy into their 1- to 2-minute dances. I don’t think anyone would deny that my brother and daughters are all great athletes. They are quite different, however: None of them could do what the others do, because they have trained their bodies to act in specific ways. but is one type of training right and the other wrong? Obviously the answer is no; you have probably guessed that this is not an article about sports, and are already drawing parallels to the concept of sustainable pace. both triathletes and Irish dancers maintain a sustainable pace, but it looks different in what they do. The same holds
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true for two software development cultures: IT departments in enterprise organizations, and digital media agencies. In the IT shops I have worked with, projects tend to be large and long. Normally, there’s more work to do in a day than there are hours to do it, and the wait between releases can be long. many, but not necessarily all, of these organizations need to think about sustainable pace as if they were in a triathlon: The race is going to be long, so pace yourself. Consider the several projects I have done for Regence blue Cross blue Shield. At Regence, there is always more work than there are people. because there is so much work—and often, legally mandated deadlines associated with it—there is significant pressure to get the work done on time no matter what. This translates into working long days and weekends. As an Agile coach and leader, I had to be vigilant in protecting the Regence team from unnecessary stress. Agile project management leaders need to push back to defend their teams’ work-life balance. If, in an effort to speed up a project, a team works for long hours over a long period of time, it’s less able to make good decisions and think creatively— and the result, ironically, is that it can’t work as efficiently. The result is defects and project delays. On the other side of the coin are digital media agencies. In these organizations, sustainable pace is more

like the pace of an Irish dance: Projects are hot, fast and vary in size, but they’re often smaller than the projects done in an enterprise IT shop. When the project is done, the contract is over and the team potentially

If, in an effort to speed up a project, a team works for long hours over a long period of time, it’s less able to make good decisions and think creatively—and the result is that it can’t work as efficiently.
can take a breather. In an agency, it’s not unusual to work long hours and weekends, not because someone is forcing you to, but because you are excited about the project and want to work on it. You know that, although it’s a hard push, it will last only a short time. I am currently the Agile coach for Wire Stone LLC, a good example of a digital media agency. At a recent sprint planning, team members decided to work overtime to make their deadline and deliver more features than they could have without working overtime. Notice what I said: Team members decided to work overENTERPRISE CIO DECISIONS • DECEmbER 2011

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time. No one forced them. As a team, the members looked at the backlog and asked whether they could work overtime to make the timeline. The end of the project was four weeks away, a reasonable timeline, so they did not take on a crazy amount of overtime but just what they felt was reasonable. In an agency, Agile leaders need to be open to the culture of the team and—as long as there is a cadence of “push hard, then rest”— find a different kind of sustainable pace. For this kind of organization, Agile leaders have to safeguard their teams’ recovery time between projects. Personalities and cultures are different. There is no reason that one definition of sustainable pace should apply to every kind of organization or Agile project management approach. I am sure there are agencies that are more like IT shops, as I’ve defined them, and IT shops that are more like agencies. I use IT shops and agencies

as examples of cultures that have different needs. Pay attention to the culture you are part of, and adapt your sustainable pace to the organization.

Personalities and cultures are different. There is no reason that one definition of sustainable pace should apply to every kind of organization or Agile project management approach.
When was the last time you asked your team members what sustainable pace means to them? They just might surprise you with their answers.
Joseph Flahiff is president and CEO of whitewater Projects inc., an agile transformation consulting firm. write to him at editor@searchcio.com.

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editor’s letter

Obstacles
with Agile
moving to agile project management, which emphasizes flexibility and interaction with empowered stakeholders, is key to greater it project success. BY NIEL NICKOLAISEN
IT project management and leadership career, I learned three incredibly important lessons: 1. No one knows what they want until they see it. 2. Once they see it, they will want to change it. 3. At best, large projects will be challenged; at worst, they will fail. Learning these lessons shaped how I plan and manage every type of IT project since then. I’ve shifted away from traditional project management methods and toward what is now called Agile project management, which emphasizes flexibility and interaction with empowered stakeholders. Here’s how Agile project management has worked for me, and how you can use Agile methods for greater project success. 1. No one knows what they want until they see it. I once led a project to develop a new Web application. I spent days gathering requirements from the project’s stakeholders. We discussed and mapped out the entire process and information flow. We sorted through the exceptions we had to handle. We then created a magnificent document that precisely captured everything we had discussed. my stakeholders reviewed and approved this document, and my team set about building the associated application. Sometime later, we delivered an application that matched the approved requirements document
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eaRLy in My
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exactly. The intended users of this fine piece of software opened the application, spent some time navigating about, and then told me that we had gotten it all wrong.

We then deliver an early version of the product and have them give us feedback—not feedback on a document, but feedback on something they can actually see and use. 2. once they see it, they will want to change it. Things change. Sometimes things change a lot. In order for IT projects to keep pace with change, our project management methods need to expect that change will happen. This is in stark contrast to more traditional approaches to project management. Using traditional methods, we punish anyone who wants a change. We require scope changes or requirements changes to go through some kind of change review and approval. We require those requesting the changes to justify the disruption their change will create to our well-defined project plans. These attempts to eliminate change, however, ignore the reality that sometimes changing scope or requirements is the right thing to do. In other words, if the target moves, so should our aim. In practice, we can become more agile if we break our projects into phases. At the end of each phase, we can ask ourselves what needs to change.
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Using Agile methods, we meet with our stakeholders and have them define their requirements.
Wrong? How could that be? We had documented the requirements. The users had approved these requirements. We had built to the requirements. How could we have gotten it wrong? because no one knows what they want until they see it. There is a big difference between what someone reads and approves in a document, and how they envision the application. The only way to avoid the wasted effort and lost time of this mismatch is to replace comprehensive requirements documentation with something users can see and use. Using Agile methods, we meet with our stakeholders and have them define their requirements and prioritize which requirements they want to see and use first.

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Does a changing technology mean we should revise our plans? Does changing competition mean we should revise our requirements? Does a process modification mean we should revise our business rules? If so, we can make the change as part of the next project phase. 3. At best, large projects will be challenged; at worst, they will fail. many years ago, I read an interesting piece of research that showed that the larger an IT project, the more likely it was to be “challenged” (over budget, late or off-target). Even worse, once a project got to a certain (large) size, project failure was a certainty. Small projects, on the other hand, almost always succeeded, according to this research. because I wanted to have successful projects and avoid challenged and failed projects, I decided I needed to transform all IT projects into small projects. I now break all projects into smaller pieces. If we think a project will last about nine months, we break it into a series of two- to three-month chunks. It isn’t as hard as you might think. For example, if you are planning a network upgrade, your first chunk might test the new network gear at one location or rewire part of the building or build a lab to test the core switch.

The next chunks will vary depending on the results of the first chunk. I take this “chunking” approach to everything I do. In a business intelligence (bI) project, we start with one department of one business unit. Doing this narrows our focus and reduc-

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If we are implementing a new SaaS application, we start with a pilot group of users before we ever consider taking the project across the organization.
es our risks. After we have successfully figured out how to deliver usable bI tools, we expand into other parts of the business. If we are implementing a new Software as a Service application, we start with a pilot group of users before we ever consider taking the project across the organization. I was using Agile methods long before I ever heard the term. I use them because they work. You might find that they work, too.
niel nickolaisen is CiO at western Governors University in Salt lake City. write to him at nnick@wgu.edu.

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editor’s letter

from Waterfall to Agile

A Journey
ge turned to agile practices to revamp software development in its energy division. learn why the company is now treating agile as a new best practice. BY christina torode
become a revolution at GE—so much so that the vice president of GE Engineering asked him, “Why can’t we introduce Agile across the entire company?” That’s exactly what he’s starting to do, beginning with not only Engineering but also the other GE business lines that became enamored with Agile practices after witnessing SSG’s success with the Energy division.

upfront

Agile: the Competitive edge

the importAnCe of A sustAinAble pACe

overComing obstACles with Agile

A Journey from wAterfAll to Agile

said he wanted to replace the traditional waterfall software development processes in General Electric Co.’s Energy division with the Agile practice of two-week iterations, the division’s business leaders told him it couldn’t be done. Just one code build within a complex software release for the Energy division could take as long as 24 hours. Rogers, the newly minted executive manager of GE’s Software Solutions Group (SSG), wanted new builds for customer-facing Energy software done in 20 minutes. “With Agile, you choose to do what you can’t do, which then makes you have to change,” he said. “With twoweek iterations, all of a sudden the team started to get very creative with what they had to use, or the equipment they needed to accomplish this.” According to Rogers, Agile has
When PauL RoGeRS

aGiLe PRaCtiCeS by the nuMbeRS

SSG made significant investments in “software designed to make software better,” said Rogers, who didn’t disclose a figure for getting his Agile practices off the ground, a transformation that has taken three years so far. The technical requirements team, the quality assurance (QA) and qualENTERPRISE CIO DECISIONS • DECEmbER 2011

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a Journey from waterfall to agile

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Agile: the Competitive edge

the importAnCe of A sustAinAble pACe

overComing obstACles with Agile

A Journey from wAterfAll to Agile

ity control (QC) team, and the developers weren’t working together, nor were they working off of the same test requirements for software builds, Rogers said. “When I asked QA and QC, ‘Why don’t you just get together with the developers?’ they said, ‘If we give [developers] the tests, they would develop the code to pass them.’ I said, ‘Well, isn’t that sort of the goal?’ That’s where we were—in a tough spot, with every team executing software development in a different way.” To get everyone working from the same specs and with the same Agile methods, Rogers kicked off what would become five “major” reorganizations of SSG’s staff. Estimates of 30% attrition were “overestimated in the press, but there were some anticipated departures as the new methodology took hold,” he said. Today, SSG has 70 teams of Scrum experts and 800 personnel overall in 113 locations worldwide, all of whom are expected to take internally developed Agile training and become Agile-certified. The next step was to develop a new infrastructure platform for SSG that combined an internally built collaboration system that kept these global teams in sync, Parasoft Corp.’s codequality testing software and a continuous integration platform by Electric Cloud Inc. “The continuous integration initiative was a big game-changer for us,” Rogers said. “Our method for

checking code was all automated and controlled centrally now. If anything failed, it failed within minutes, versus finding out in hours or days.” SSG tested the new Agile practices

“When I asked QA and QC, ‘Why don’t you just get together with the developers?’ they said, ‘If we give [developers] the tests, they would develop the code to pass them.’”
—PAUL ROGERS
executive manager, GE Co. Software Solutions Group and automated code verification systems for the demand and management software that large utility companies use. The build time for the software decreased by 97%, from 11 hours to 20 minutes, Rogers said. “That saved us 20 days’ worth of time finding errors, since it could take a month or so to figure out what code or threads of code was blowing up in a particular integration.”

eVanGeLiZinG aGiLe PRaCtiCeS

It is well known that GE doesn’t go into a project halfheartedly, as evidenced by its Six Sigma methodology. A marketing team dedicated to SSG
ENTERPRISE CIO DECISIONS • DECEmbER 2011

18

4
home

a Journey from waterfall to agile

editor’s letter

upfront

Agile: the Competitive edge

the importAnCe of A sustAinAble pACe

overComing obstACles with Agile

A Journey from wAterfAll to Agile

shares its Agile accomplishments across the business, and recently 165 Agile—not energy—domain experts were hired for SSG. In addition, Six Sigma experts at GE are being trained and certified in GE’s own brand of Agile, and will share their knowledge based on a curriculum developed within SSG. As for what Rogers learned from his adoption of Agile? “make it your own.” He had to overcome the argument over what Agile was and was not, he explained. “What it usually came down to was that if someone didn’t like what was being proposed, they said, ‘That’s not Agile.’ but if they liked what was being proposed, they would say, ‘That is Agile.’“ To Rogers, Agile focuses on making a business better and its processes more predictive. He is quick to point out other SSG wins, should there be any Agile nonbelievers, and he said he strongly believes that Agile and lean methods should be combined because “lean is where the money is.” “Combining Agile and lean let us exceed productivity [gain] targets by 3,200%,” Rogers said. “Fixes that used to take 20 days are done in minutes, and we have surpassed our goal of tens of thousands of hours in productivity, saving 650,000 hours in [lost] productivity since we started this three years ago.” n
Christina torode is news director for SearchCiO. com. write to her at ctorode@techtarget.com.

Project: Agile is produced by CiO/it Strategy media,© 2011 by techtarget. Jacqueline biscobing managing Editor Rachel Lebeaux assistant managing Editor Linda koury Director of Online Design Joseph Flahiff, niel nickolaisen Contributing writers Scot Petersen Editorial Director Chris Gonsalves Executive Editor Christina torode News Director Linda tucci Senior News writer karen Goulart features writer ben Cole associate Editor Carol Zarrow Copy Editor
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