Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How can we go agile while maintaining visibility into our projects?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – We are a CMMI Maturity Level 2 rated IT firm in Alexandria, Virginia. We have been experimenting with Scrum and would like to transition the entire organization to agile, but I am concerned that our managers will not be able to know what is happening with agile projects. How do we go agile and keep the visibility we need? ~ Susan T.

Hey Susan,

Great question! In my work with companies large and small all over the world, and as a former CIO and VP of Engineering, I have found that the inability to get good information is at the root of nearly every business problem. No one can make the right business decisions without the right information, and you are wise to assess this risk before going agile.

Here’s how to assure you are successful in your agile transformation. First, understand why this perceived lack of visibility happens on agile projects.

As you may know, Scrum teams operate very differently from teams operating in a traditional Waterfall environment. They tend to be self-organizing, independent, process-light, and quick to adapt. They have an iterative and incremental way of getting work done, which typically does not include things like weekly status reporting and weekly meetings. Most of them don’t even have a project manager (oh, the horrors!).

So, when you go agile, how will you get the information you need to run the business?

Since you've already adopted the CMMI at your company, one solution is to integrate Scrum and CMMI. At my company, Broadsword, we do just that. We strengthen Scrum with the CMMI, based on the needs of our company.

For example, let’s take one popular aspect of Scrum, the Daily Stand-up. Scrum Teams opt for Daily Stand-ups as opposed to the traditional sit-down status meetings. When you go agile, you want to incorporate this behavior because it's a powerful construct for communications and risk management. And you want to use the CMMI as a framework to make sure you are talking, in a very light and agile way, about things in the Daily Stand-up that are really important. Then, most importantly, you’ll want to share that information with the right people in the company.

Applying the guidance of the CMMI to the Daily Stand-up gives us two major advantages. One, by using the simple Daily Stand-up mechanism, we get a really crisp, robust view of the project, so we can understand what’s going on in real-time. We understand it early, and we understand it often. And two, by adopting some of the best practices that the CMMI provides, we get more value out of the Daily Stand-up than we would have without CMMI.

This is just a glimpse of all you can do with agile and CMMI, Susan. For more information on using CMMI to guide your agile transformation, I encourage you to check out the highly popular Webinar in our “Everything You Need to Know” Series: “Agile Transformation!”

What: “Everything You Need to Know. Agile Transformation!”
When: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at noon EDT
Cost: FREE!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

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