February 24, 2015

Getting Ready for Your Agile Technical Transformation

Written by Leslie Lowman

As your organization prepares to transition to an Agile one, you will most likely want to know all that the transformation entails.  One of these things will be transforming your technical practices to better align with the Agile Engineering Practices…so how can you make it a success?

Plan For It 
Organizations typically will look at the process, the teams, and the projects they will transform in their move to Agile.  However, they often forget a key piece of the puzzle: the technical ‘stuff’.

In the scheme of things, it is fairly easy to change the process that one is doing from process A to process B.  It’s also relatively easy to choose the projects that will move to Agile and the teams that will work on them.  The hiccup is that they almost always forget about the changes that must be made to the technical architecture they have in order to ensure the complete transformation.

Identifying the technical changes that need to be made and ensuring they are part of the transformation plan are keys to making your agile transformation a success!

Architecture on the Brain
In most organizations, the technical architecture is one that is usually aligned with projects or, sometimes, aligned with what was pushed and when.  The architecture is most likely not aligned with the various applications or features that the organization produces.

When this is the case, the teams most likely will have a difficult time aligning themselves in a way that they can concentrate on any specific application or feature.  This concept produces issues for teams’ ability to work on a defined backlog, and even worse, creates barriers to them completing anything of value during a sprint.  This type of architecture is steeped in dependencies and blurry lines.

In order to ensure the architecture is set up to allow for the Agile Engineering Practices, it is imperative that the architecture be examined and plans be made to make the necessary shifts in the alignment of the architecture to match.

What About Environments?
Environments are another aspect that can cause issues when attempting to institute Agile Engineering Practices.

There are usually multiple environments, like DEV, QA, SIT, UAT, and PROD, that the team will move their completed increments through.  The biggest concern with this is that most of the time, the environments do not match up and they have varying states of the application and data.  This poses numerous obstacles to the team being able to produce effectively.

To deliver value effectively, teams need to be able to accurately test the stuff they are producing.  In order to accurately test, they need to have a “clean” environment to move their increments into.  When environments are not in sync and/or are not aligned correctly, teams will have issues creating successful builds and testing them.

When the environments are not correctly aligned and/or they are not working properly, there are major consequences that can result.  These consequences can range anywhere from not completing a sprint’s increments to producing low quality results to ending up with unwanted value.

A Couple Things to Think About
If an organization doesn’t identify and plan for the technical architecture changes they will need to support their Agile transformation, they will most likely cause more delays and, more importantly, pose more barriers to the team’s effectiveness.

Examine what your team has in its way when it comes to developing, testing, and deploying code.  What kinds of measures do you feel your team needs to take in order to deliver value on an incremental, consistent basis?

Stay tuned for the next installment where we will look at ways to make the technical transformation a reality…

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    agile engineering practices
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