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


Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Both of you have coached teams on agile adoption and helped create organizational changes. What about your ability and experiences doing that has been the most rewarding for you guys?

Jay McFarling: I would say, for me, I'm a relationships, I am a people person, and so the most rewarding thing for me has been to see how agile transformation has engaged our workforce, particularly in the area of legacy systems and legacy technologies. In our case, developers in our teams that do COBOL development, for example, have felt empowered because we allow them to make choices and make decisions on the fly, if you will, when in the past they haven't necessarily been able to do that. So that newfound freedom and that empowerment to kind of define the destiny of their system has really been engaging for them.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: And Danielle?

Danielle Roecker: Yeah. From my aspect, I just really love working with every one of the teams. Each team tends to find a little different way of accomplishing their work. They all learn from each other, so we'll sometimes have a team learn from a more experienced team and after a while, the experienced team is also learning from them. I really enjoy seeing them evolve and challenge them to create new ways of accomplishing their work and impact others.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Is there anything else you guys would like to say to the attendees of Agile Development and Better Software Conference West before they attend the conference and before they attend your session?

Jay McFarling: I guess it would be more of a repeat of what I said before, is you can be agile regardless of your technology, but don't let the technology dictate whether or not you transform the software development to being agile.

Danielle Roecker: I'd love to see everyone think of mainframe in a different light, that anything is possible with agile.

Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Thank you so much. Once again, this was 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, and their presentation is title "Make Your Mainframe Systems and Technology More Agile." Thank you so much, Jay and Danielle.

Jay McFarling: Thank you.

Danielle Roecker: Thanks.


About "Make Your Mainframe Systems and Technology More Agile":

As the technology industry increasingly shifts to agile development, we’re faced with the challenge of maintaining our mainframe technologies and legacy systems. We must face the challenges of employee engagement and the problems of fitting procedural/linear technologies into the fluid world of agile, but successfully navigating these issues will allow IT leaders to breathe new life into the development of aging technologies. Together, Jay McFarling and Danielle Roecker share their experiences of the past two years as they successfully moved the waterfall development activities of their mainframe legacy systems into the new world of agile. Now Jay and Danielle are not just delivering applications but finding ways to modernize their development practices. This interactive session provides a glimpse into the top five blockers they faced―agile mindset, tools, sizing, communication, and team improvements―and provides a venue for you to explore your issues. Leave with real world examples and the motivation to tackle your biggest agile challenges.



A director in applications development with Nationwide Insurance, Jay McFarling partners with internal IT organizations to deliver new software development for their 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 application 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 ScrumMaster 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 ScrumMaster, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, and Project Management Professional.


Podcast Music: "Han Solo" (Captain Stu) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

User Comments

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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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