Make Your Mainframe Systems and Technology More Agile: An Interview with Jay McFarling and Danielle Roecker


Jay and Danielle talk about their presentation at Agile Development and Better Software Conference West 2014, why teams should care about their mainframe systems going agile, the role of legacy tech in an agile world, and some ways that teams can modernize their development practices.


Jay McFarling and Danielle Roecker will be presenting a presentation titled "Make Your Mainframe Systems and Technology More Agile" at Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference West 2014, which will take place June 1–6, 2014.


Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Today we have Jay McFarling and Danielle Roecker, and they will be speaking at the Agile Development Conference and Better Software Conference West 2014, which is June 1 through June 6. They are giving a presentation titled "Make You Mainframe Systems a Technology More Agile".

A Director in Applications Development with Nationwide Insurance, Jay McFarling, partners with Internal IT Organizations to deliver new software development for the applications and provides transformational coaching for agile and lean adoption. Jay has been creating and managing software development projects since the days of Pascal and COBOL. His career spans all IT professions and includes many critical transformational projects, from Y2K to platform consolidations and applications redesigns.

Passionate about agile, Danielle Roecker manages a group of developers at Nationwide Insurance, where they are successfully blending agile methodologies with cutting edge development. Danielle uses her background as a software developer, project manager, and Scrum master to help teams fully embrace agile development. Her understanding of the human and business interactions has helped her lead Nationwide's organizational change. She is a certified Scrum Master, PMI-Agile certified practitioner, and project management professional.

All right, Jay and Danielle, did we cover everything?

Jay McFarling: Yeah.

Danielle Roecker: Yep.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Because you guys are doing a session titled "Make Your Mainframe Systems and Technology More Agile", I'd like to ask you some questions about adopting and staying with the decision to go agile. My first question is why should teams care about their mainframe systems becoming more agile?

Jay McFarling: I would say one of the fondest topics for Danielle and I is that when it comes to agile transformation, the mainframe world really needs it. We see that there's a few trends that need to be changed in the mainframe development world. One of these is the spirit of, "We've always done it this way before," and what agile management does is it forces you to engage your brain in your work again, rather than defaulting to the status quo of tools and processes and such that we've become accustomed to in legacy systems in mainframe technologies.

It also kind of challenges the thought that nobody is learning mainframe technologies anymore. As we know, mainframe technologies are so prevalent in our industry that they're going to live on long beyond the people who are developing now. What we found is that agile software development brings a more interactive approach, which helps appeal to newer developers as well as providing a natural environment, so we can learn those technologies better.

I would just say, finally, there's this other trend where in mainframe technologies we tend to like to do it alone, kind of developing on ourselves, but what agile does is it kind of takes us back to our roots as mainframe developers and it kind of comes full circle. In the early days of COBOL development developers worked on team structures. We kind of did all IT professions, and agile kind of brings us full circle and helps us do that again.

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Sarah Nelson's picture

Agile certifications are a very good way to gauge an individual’s knowledge of what Agile really is and how Agile Principles are implemented across different scenarios. It is very important for an individual to participate in a good training session ahead of any Agile certification e.g. PMI-ACP™ by PMI, Scrum Master Certification (SMC™)by SCRUMstudy, The <a href="/%3Ca%20href%3D"" rel="nofollow">">Agile Project Management™</a> (AgilePM®) certification by APMG etc.

May 29, 2014 - 3:17am

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