While many industries have adopted agile, the medical device industry, which develops products for life-critical applications-where quality and reliability are clearly a top-priority, remains largely stuck under the “waterfall.” Medical device firms must comply with FDA regulations that overwhelmingly suggest a controlled, phase-gated approach to software development. Unfortunately, many companies and development organizations interpret FDA regulations to require a steep waterfall. Many industry long-timers incorrectly see agile as an undisciplined style of software development. Neeraj Mainkar demonstrates how those in regulated industries can overcome these and other hurdles. At Neuronetics, he helped implement key elements of agile while fully complying with FDA regulations.
To deliver high-value products, your agile team must reach a shared understanding of prioritized stakeholder needs. Collaborative techniques are best for this type of work, but not all agile teams use them or use them efficiently. Some rely too heavily on written user stories or story maps and fail to address complex topics or resolve requirements conflicts among stakeholders. Ellen Gottesdiener outlines how you can systematically collaborate about the product backlog in nimble, timely workshops that give your team an open venue for working together to make complicated decisions. Ellen explores collaborative techniques for backlog discovery and preparation. She teaches you to use the Seven Dimensions technique to make sure you capture all product needs.
Knowing the rules of chess doesn’t equip you with strategies to win the game-much less make you a chess master. In the same way, many Scrum teams and their organizations know the rules but never consider longer-term strategies for getting the most out of Scrum. Sadly, of the thousands of organizations using Scrum, only a small fraction realizes Scrum’s true potential. To help address this epidemic and offer teams and companies ways to get more out of Scrum, the Scrum Framework has been codified in the Scrum Guide 2011. Rob Maher explains what elements of Scrum were revised and why, and offers practical guidance on avoiding common missteps that plague failing Scrum teams and organizations. Rob describes the extension model which allows the Scrum Guide to be expanded to support related strategies and practices.
Traditional performance evaluations, which focus solely on individual performance, create a “chasm of disconnect” for agile team members. Because agile is all about team performance and trust, the typical HR performance evaluation system is not congruent with agile development. Based on his practical experience leading agile teams, Michael Hall explores how measurements drive behavior, why team measurement is important, what to measure, and what not to measure. Michael introduces tangible techniques for measuring agile team performance-end of sprint retrospectives, sprint and project report cards, peer reviews, and annual team performance reviews. To demonstrate what he’s describing, Michael uses role plays to contrast traditional, dysfunctional annual reviews with agile-focused performance reviews.
In large financial institutions, treasury departments-specialized teams of traders and experts in liquidity, risk, accounting, financial forecasting, and quantitative analysis-manage the organization’s wealth and financial risk. These departments require large, complex, third-party software products that must change often to support the treasury’s complicated business processes. Matt Callanan describes how a team of developers and operations staff-the DevOps team-applied agile principles to the “last mile” and reduced software deployment from one week to one day. He discusses how their DevOps team collaborated to develop automation solutions to support ongoing deployment activities and solve many issues in the operational environment.
Product owners create stories they believe are ready for development. Developers accept and then estimate stories that are not really ready to be started. This disconnect between being “ready” and “really ready” results in miscommunication and frustration. For example, story development can take much longer than original estimates because of the details and “sad paths” that were not expressed in the story. Ken Pugh describes how to turn vague acceptance criteria into specific acceptance tests. He explains how levels of detail in acceptance tests can help to more closely estimate the effort required by stories and shows how acceptance tests determine when stories are complete. With Ken, you’ll go through creating a “really really ready” story and examine when it should be created and who should participate.
Software development organizations adopting Scrum have struggled to apply it to big projects with multiple teams. Dan Rawsthorne is frequently asked, “What does ‘big’ Scrum look like?” Because no two organizations are alike, this simple question does not have a simple answer. However, Dan has discovered patterns that are common in organizations that successfully implement “big” scrum. The first pattern he explores-Product Owner Team-allows the organization to handle agility up and down the hierarchy. Dan also discusses the Cross-cutting Teams pattern that handles issues-architecture, usability, integration, performance, and evaluation-that the formal hierarchy can’t resolve. Finally, Dan discusses the BuddyUp pattern to describe the best way to work with subject matter experts from dispersed parts of the organization.
Now that agile has gone mainstream, team-level development is not the only way organizations are implementing agile. Some senior management teams are trying to understand how they can implement agile-and lean-principles and practices from the top down. Jon Stahl demonstrates agile and lean techniques applied in a new way with certain constraints. With these techniques, your organization can begin its journey toward becoming an agile enterprise. However, before beginning, it is important that management “see the whole”-customers, projects, applications, people, leadership, financials, and standard work products-and start implementing and practicing the culture they wish to create. To help PMOs support this journey, Jon shares some guiding principles that can be applied to both agile and waterfall approaches.
Jeremy Leach shares Pitney Bowes’ agile development experience implementing a cloud-based application with a large, globally-distributed team. Jeremy’s story recounts challenges working with the very specific delivery cycles required by third-party contractors and hardware vendors. He describes the interactions and complexities that a global engineering team face when multiple project and products must come together into a single release. Learn how outside elements can stress the development rhythm that a team needs, how to mitigate these challenges, and how Pitney Bowes eventually came to embrace them. Jeremy explores how their management evolved and the focus of their communications structure changed from key individuals to group collaboration. In conclusion, Jeremy shares lessons learned and how Pitney Bowes is structuring similar projects for the future.
Specification by Example is a collaborative approach for constructing executable requirements. Examples demonstrate how the system should operate through the eyes of its users and shows understanding of the application’s functions. Michael Connolly demonstrates the practical and easy-to-implement Specification by Example method which he uses to write user stories and acceptance criteria. This direct approach, in which requirements are elaborated via executable code, creates a solid communication bridge between non-technical and technical staff and managers within the organization. Eventually, these executable requirements become the basis for the system’s acceptance test suite. As a take away, Michael provides participants with a lightweight requirements document format and an acceptance criteria framework to help you translate written specifications into automation.