Agile practitioners who seek to improve their skills have a new training option available to them. At Agile2012 this week, Emergn announced its launch of Value Flow Quality (VFQ) Education, a work-based learning program that enables project managers, developers, testers and other team members to complete self-driven training, immediately applying skills while working on their current projects.
Paul Dolman-Darrall, EVP for strategy at Emergn, explained that the business benefits this system offers are encompassed in the name: it delivers more value, improves flow and team cooperation and enhances quality and productivity. The VFQ course uses a modular system that enables students to study within a time frame that works for them, whether it’s a couple of months or up to a year.
He described the three levels of certification currently available, explaining that “the first level is about finding something that is suitable for your particular role or for a particular methodology that you are implementing, say Scrum or Kanban, for example.”
The highest level is known as the deployment level, which is a very comprehensive course. The choices allow participants to go as far as they would like to go, choosing from 60 topics. The setup is also flexible, so students can study at work, at home or from anywhere.
The course has been designed for all the major roles within IT, and recently the course is expanding to business analysts and other business roles. “IT is not a silo; it’s not by itself within a business. It has to become part of the business. So what we’ve discovered through our early pilots is that some people in the business are working quite heavily with IT and have also started to pick up the materials,” said Dolman-Darrall.
Companies can invest in the amount of content that they feel is appropriate for their organization, either by purchasing modules by themselves or registering for a monthly subscription that enables access to all the learning content. In addition, Emergn offers a two-day corporate training course for those organizations that are looking for a one-time training opportunity.
Customers who have tried VFQ have provided positive feedback so far, vouching that they are really learning and that the program explains both the “how” and the “why.” They have been able to immediately apply skills on the job and proactively prevent and resolve issues.
How can Lean-Agile principles help guide teams in successfully adopting Agile in the enterprise? Alan Shalloway, founder and CEO of NetObjectives, is presenting “Scaling Agile with Multiple Teams: Using Lean to Drive Business Value” at Agile2012 on Aug. 14. He offered a preview of his presentation, which highlights effective principles as well as case studies that demonstrate successful implementations.
He has found through his work that smaller teams using Agile report success, while teams using Agile at the enterprise level rarely report success. Shalloway and his colleagues have found that Lean management and coaching offer many benefits to enterprise agility efforts.
He explained, “We’ve created a framework called the Lean-Agile roadmap that doesn’t tell people what to do per se– nothing is ever prescriptive, or shouldn’t be– but it tells people what they need to accomplish.” It is based on Lean flow principles, and has proven to be a successful approach.
The presentation focuses on the goals teams need to accomplish in order to achieve enterprise agility, which center around optimizing the time spent from the conception of the idea to project completion. When there are multiple teams, the general approach has been that they will work on their respective projects and then communicate with each other through Scrum of Scrums.
Shalloway noted, however, that as teams tend to be “tribal” and focus on their own objectives, this approach is not always effective. He recommends creating a bigger context for all involved, which he says begins with identifying the business value of the project.
Implementing Lean flow ideas requires that teams in very large organizations introduce a new role, the business product owner, or project manager, who liaises between the stakeholders and the teams. This individual can help manage projects with the big picture in mind. They help the teams take a holistic view.
“Most practitioners have a holistic mindset,” he commented. “Most people who are trying to adopt Agile understand that the need for this holistic view is important, but it’s not a command and control thing; it’s just a way to create a bigger picture.”
Shalloway advocates that teams self-organize and experience the effectiveness of these principles themselves. He doesn’t believe in telling people how they should go about their projects. He explained that teams can take advantage of the experience and knowledge they already have: “They can validate it on their own past experience if it will work or not.”
He continued, “They don’t have to abandon their old roles. They can actually start where they are and make changes based on these new insights that have been provided to them.”
Structured conversations enable team members to communicate more effectively and meet delivery expectations, according to Ellen Gottesdiener, principal consultant and Mary Gorman, VP of quality and delivery at EBG Consulting. They are co-presenting “The Product Partnership: Using Structured Conversations to Deliver Value” at Agile2012 on Monday, August 13.
They cited experiences with clients, those who are currently using Agile and those who are transitioning to Agile, where stakeholder conversations had been less than optimal. One of the main issues Gorman noted is that planning meetings can be unproductive, lacking the focus, detail and attention to complexity that is really necessary. Often the right people are not involved in the project.
Gottesdiener added that team members often come to the meeting with requirements that are not ready for planning.
She explained that there is an “art and science of making requirements ready to pull into the team’s work for a particular delivery cycle, whether it’s a release, or whether it’s an iteration, or, using Scrum terminology, a sprint.” She emphasized, “‘Making ready’ is a really big issue.”
Other challenges with stakeholder conversations are the siloes that form, in which Agile team members are adhering to particular “roles” rather than working together towards the same goal—delivering value. Furthermore, the value is not well-defined; it is not transparent or explicit for team members.
In terms of explicit value, Gorman explained that it’s important to look at what the value is for each of the product partners—the customers, the business people and the technology stakeholders. “What’s their value, and what’s their perspective on the value of the product that they’re going to use? Be very explicit about that, really get inside their head, and sometimes their heart.”
She continued, “Being able to explore the value and then use that for our decisions as we move along has been really critical.”
Gottesdiener added that everyone needs to understand the definition of value. She said, “Value is fair return or equivalent in exchange for something—goods, services, money, time… Value is in the eyes of the beholder.”
During the tutorial the participants will learn how to apply the structured conversation pattern “Explore-Evaluate-Confirm” to identify high-value product options.
Gottesdiener and Gorman are also presenting the following at Agile2012:
That Settles It! Techniques for Transparent and Trusted Decision-Making on Your Agile Team Wednesday morning, August 15, 2012 with Ellen Gottesdiener.
The Contracting Two-Step: Patterns for Successful Collaborations, Wednesday afternoon, August 15, 2012 with Mary Gorman.
At Agile2012 in Dallas next week, Mike Cottmeyer, Enterprise Agile Coach at LeadingAgile, LLC, will be giving two presentations. He gave a preview of what to expect from both. His Wednesday talk, “Patterns for Agile Adoption and Transformation” and his Thursday talk, “Understanding Agile Program and Portfolio Management,” both offer strategies for managers to adopt Agile and change the structure of project management within the organization.
“How do you enact the cultural shift that inevitably has to happen? That falls into the category of non-trivial problems,” says Cottmeyer. Sometimes completing a total transformation takes months or even years, depending on the organization. Fortunately, Agile has evolved to the point now that there are several success stories out there, as well as failures that provide current practitioners with a basis of what not to do, so Agile adoption can prove highly beneficial despite the complex changes involved.
Senior leadership teams can make a total Agile project management transformation. “Where it really works best is when you’ve got an engaged senior leadership team that understands the problem and is able to make the changes organizationally, enterprise-wide, that are necessary to make Agile work.” It goes beyond just a development process, extending into the other team members’ functions as well.
Agile transformation, the focus of Wednesday’s talk, requires attention to organizational structure, practices and culture, Cottmeyer explains. Furthermore, he emphasizes the importance of the inter-relationship between those three factors. Organizations can achieve success with systematic, incremental steps that consider each of these dimensions.
Thursday’s presentation on program and portfolio management will focus mainly on practices, techniques and tools that teams can use to efficiently accomplish their goals.
Cottmeyer hopes participants will leave with a different view on what is possible with Agile. “As Agile moves into its second decade, there are a lot of us out there dealing with the real, corporate realities that these managers are facing, and there are strategies beginning to emerge that can help them be effective as long as they’re willing to look beyond the traditional boundaries of Agile that people have been talking about for the last ten years. And really focus on business-level agility. There’s some good ideas out there that people are having success with.”
For other recent SSQ articles on enterprise Agile, see:
Traditional and cloud computing environments are becoming more complex, at the same time that companies feel pressure to deliver more services and efficiently manage IT performance. For the cloud, particularly, application configuration can be a bottleneck. To try to meet the emerging needs, HP recently rolled out a new configuration management system that provides visibility into software and infrastructure while offering new automated capabilities.
HP Configuration Management System (CMS) 10 includes HP Universal Discovery software, which offers automated discovery capabilities to support the deployment and management of physical, virtual and cloud projects. HP CMS 10 forms an essential part of the HP IT Performance Suite, an enterprise performance software platform.
Jimmy Augustine, product marketing manager, HP Software explained that “just-in-time discovery allows us to run in very different environments.” Additionally, automated discovery lowers costs resulting from service disruption and reduces time spent on manual discovery. Basically, the HP software can go out and map complex configurations, including applications and infrastructure. It provides a map of dependencies too.
“We come back with a rich picture of the software they have. And it supports business services,” said Augustine.
A prime selling point for cloud computing is that the machines can be up and running immediately, not in months. “It’s great for users, but on the backend it is a challenge,” said Augustine. The goal for CMS 10 is to fill in the gap.
Public cloud is a promising class of cloud, but it does not come without some familiar stubborn details for operations to address. The HP software is intended to help here as well. The software is helpful when operations people must oversee such details as license compliance, added Augustine. On another note, the HP software can help testers by making available a more accurate map of the running system.
Contributions to this article by Jack Vaughan
Organizations are more concerned about application security than ever and have a growing awareness of security concerns. SearchSoftwareQuality.com’s newest expert, Dan Cornell, principal of software consulting company Denim Group, discusses mobile security, what organizations can do to build security requirements into software and security challenges in cloud ALM.
He views the most serious concerns with mobile software security as falling into two major areas: 1) how organizations expose their users to risk, and 2) how applications expose the companies themselves to risk.
In regards to user risk, he explains, “Mobile apps have impact on security of your customers and their data and most folks would agree that a forward-thinking enterprise is going to take into account the security situation of their users and they’re not going to want to expose their users to risk because of these applications they’re developing. It’s bad business.”
As far as company risk, he explains that potentially sensitive algorithms are put in mobile applications that are then run on mobile devices that are vulnerable to attackers who can disassemble them, and “more importantly, organizations are exposing Web services to support these mobile applications.” The Web services that run in a company’s data centers are vulnerable to risk in online customer support scenarios, for example.
He recommends that organizations examine whether their Web services can remain resilient against malicious attacks, and offers suggestions for including security in the requirements management process. He says, “If the developers know going in that they need to implement these different controls, then they know to build them.”
Cornell continues, “We often use a technique called threat modeling, to in a structured way to lay out the different assets and parts of the system and where data flows, and use that to identify potential weaknesses during the design stage, so you can identify those up front and plan to mitigate those risks, rather than rolling them out and try to retrofit the security controls later.”
When it comes to cloud application security, Cornell explains:
Software as a Service applications and their APIs are being incorporated into mobile apps to implement some functionality of the system. It’s important for developers to understand if you’re getting data feeds from Twitter or from Facebook or from Salesforce, especially systems where content is being generated by third parties, you have to be very careful when you bring that data into your system to make sure that it conforms to whatever rules you expect it to conform to. You shouldn’t trust things that are coming from these cloud applications necessarily.
On the other hand, the availability of SaaS and PaaS platforms is appealing to developers. It can be very convenient and beneficial for many companies to rely on cloud services, but from a security standpoint, there are potential risks as well.
Cornell emphasizes that “you need to be judicious in where you elect to give up control,” and this tradeoff is different for every organization.
To read some of Cornell’s SSQ Ask the Expert responses, see:
In a recent conversation with Shlomo Swidler, prominent consultant and founder of Orchestratus, he discussed the merits of strong project leaders and team builders in the DevOps environment.
Swidler offered a historical perspective on DevOps and said that it is another step in the continuing evolution of the IT service delivery model. In the past teams were divided, operations was typically only involved in hardware and developers were typically only involved in software.
“As the two roles started to converge, because software began to take on more and more responsibility for high availability, those roles also merged. That’s really what DevOps is. The closer alignment of development and operations, or the functions within the organization that know how to build the software and the functions that know how to deliver the software,” he explained. This alignment is more and more common in companies today, and there is more awareness of this convergence.
“In and of itself, DevOps does not help organizations build software that is more in tune with what the users want…What DevOps can do is help, once you understand what the users’ needs are, to develop applications more quickly, and in such a way that once they are deployed, they will be more reliable,” he said.
In any environment, the role of the project manager is to make sure the team has all the skills it needs to develop an application that is correct and serviceable in the field to meet desired reliability, according to Swidler. He explained that in DevOps, the project manager must ensure that both the development and operations sides understand what the other side needs, and make sure that interactions and “cross-functional germination” take place.
There is a cultural gap between developers and operations—as developers push through change readily, and operations people tend to want to minimize risk, he explained. Their performance is measured by two very different criteria. However, good team builders and project managers create a “team-wide incentive alignment” so that the two sides can work together effectively.
“Culture is created by leaders. Whatever the leader’s behavior expresses, that is what the organization is going to rally around,” Swidler explained.
He went on to say, “It’s the leader’s responsibility to make sure that the team is managed or structured or governed in such a way that everybody’s success or failure is mutually dependent.” Ultimately, this is how to go about aligning IT teams with business objectives.
For other recent SSQ stories on DevOps, see:
As more IT organizations opt for management and collaboration through hybrid development processes, companies such as CollabNet respond with offerings that integrate updated tools and functionality. CollabNet recently announced the summer release of their TeamForge 6.2 ALM platform, which is unique in providing a combined platform for Git and Subversion management.
Senior Director of Product Marketing Lothar Schubert discussed some of the new features and explained that this release “delivers on integration, visibility and reporting, especially for Agile application lifecycle management and enterprise cloud development.”
He continued, “The whole notion of integration—integration across tools, integration across clouds—is something that we take very seriously and deliver on in 6.2.” He then explained the new features of TeamForge 6.2:
- Orchestration across tools and clouds, including Git, Gerrit, ReviewBoard, Black Duck Code Sight.
- Planning, measurement and reporting, using a datamart “built specifically to manage site activity, to measure software commits and any kind of tracker artifacts,” providing visibility into quality, according to Schubert.
- Code quality, re-use and governance that builds on CollabNet’s strong heritage in source code and source code management.
- Enterprise grade Git and Subversion management that encompasses security and hybrid SCM.
For webinars detailing these new tools, click below:
For a previous post on CollabNet TeamForge, see:
Employees are bringing more and more mobile devices to the enterprise, requiring companies to determine how they can best satisfy employees’ business needs while encountering varying operating systems.
Marcio Cyrillo, head of mobile strategy at Ci&T, explains that companies view the influx of mobile devices in the workplace as an opportunity to increase productivity and also to communicate to employees that the company is on the cutting edge of technology, encouraging employees to work remotely as well as on site. They want to embrace mobile because they know it is here to stay.
While we will still need a desktop for certain tasks, mobile increasingly provides businesses with useful tools and enhances productivity. “This is where we are headed: integration with legacy systems and corporate systems providing me the right information wherever I am, in the right context. This is how mobility can really transform the industry, making companies more competitive and very targeted. Our teams are more efficient because they have the right information in the right context,” says Cyrillo.
Clients started approaching Ci&T saying they no longer wanted to develop for iOS only; they wanted something that could be deployed to both iOS and Android. While it was sometimes challenging at first to develop on non-native platforms— they used PhoneGap and Titanium, which they were already familiar with—they were able to overcome them and carry out successful hybrid development.
Hybrid development is a useful approach for companies wanting to streamline their mobile development practices, though it doesn’t allow for applications to perform exactly the same way as when they are developed on native platforms. “But for companies, it’s a fantastic thing because now you have one source code and then two tweaks, or two implementations, just a small part of it, to make the source code deployable on different platforms. For companies, it’s the best approach right now because you don’t need two teams working on the same application.”
Now HTML5 is the standard for hybrid development, according to Cyrillo. It does have some limitations, but some of those will change with iOS 6. Still, Cyrillo sees HTML5 as being more important for mobile Web applications in the future, “millions of people will be coding with it and not even realize what is behind it.”
For related articles, see:
Pre-deployment testing has always been important, but now we are much more aware of it, as many high-profile failures are related to performance, according to Theresa Lanowitz, founder of voke, inc. She discussed the importance of performance testing, the distinction between “apps” and “applications” and mobile testing trends.
Careful testing of software is critical because “the software that runs your company is now inextricably linked to your brand. So your brand is reflected through the software you are putting out there; your brand is reflected through the software that your customers are using,” said Lanowitz.
Testing tools and approaches must meet numerous performance testing standards in both pre-deployment testing as well as infrastructure testing. In a recent voke press release announcing the voke Market Mover Array™ Report: Testing Platforms, Lanowitz stated, “Organizations can no longer dictate where, when, or how software is used. Workers are mobile, customers are global and every individual has a preference as to how they want to consume software. As a result, the testing market of the future will not have one dominant vendor; rather the market will be defined by software from testing vendors that is open and integrated with a wide variety of tooling options.” In response to this need, voke offers analysis of a number of vendor tools.
Companies must thoroughly test both apps and applications, as both are critical to business functions and company branding. Lanowitz explained the differences between these two categories: “The term app has evolved into our daily lexicon to mean something that is really small, consumable, easy to use, lives on our smartphone—and you’re certainly not going to run your entire company from a mobile app, whereas you’re going to have everything you need on these applications that are inside your organization.” Yet, businesses are using apps to become more competitive and appeal to their customers in new and varied ways.
Testing across various devices, operating systems and networks presents complex challenges for testers. And the market is responding. “We’re seeing this proliferation of mobile test vendors come about, and it’s great to see that. These mobile testing vendors are doing a really great job of building out that incredibly complex matrix and helping people figure out: when you’re doing your development, which devices do you test on? Which operating systems are you going to test on? What do you build for? Once you start to expand your testing, you go a little bit further. And then once you put it into production, here are the devices and operating systems we’re going to support. And that’s something enterprises really need to have a strategy for.”
“Performance is really central to the success of every app and application—performance and security.” Lanowitz concluded. “A lot of these newer types of technologies, these newer platforms that we have to be concerned about that are adding another layer of complexity, bring about the need for performance and security in a bigger way.”