An Introduction to SAFe 4.0

SAFe 4.0 White PaperThe Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) is a proven method for implementing Agile across an enterprise. Many organizations may use Agile for some of their teams, but they don’t know how to scale their implementations without losing the benefits. SAFe enables an organization to efficiently and effectively scale Agile.

DCG Software Value is a Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) certified partner, and we've helped a number of organizations successfully use SAFe. Of course, when introducing any new framework or concept, it's easy to get caught up in and confused by the details. We've all been there. 

Luckily, Scaled Agile, Inc., the governing body for the framework, has published a clear overview all about the latest version: "SAFe 4.0 Introduction: Overview of the Scaled Agile Framework for Lean Software and Systems Engineering." 

This white paper provides a high-level overview of the framework, including its values, principles, practices, and strategy for implementation. Here's how it may be of use to you:

  • Learn how to apply SAFe for enterprise-class Lean-Agile software and systems development.
  • Learn the basics of SAFe prior to taking a course (e.g. Implementing SAFe 4.0 with SPC4 certification, Leading SAFe 4.0, etc.).
  • Understand SAFe 4.0 in greater detail, especially for those who haven’t taken a 4.0 SAFe class.

Whether you're currently using SAFe, you plan to use it soon, or you're just curious about what it is, the white paper is worth your time. Check it out and let us know what you think - and if you have any questions!

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Written by Default at 05:00
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Function Points in the Philippines?

David LambertI know what you are thinking – and I was thinking the same thing. Is there really a company using function points in the Philippines? Yes, there is. In fact, I recently traveled to the Philippines to train a lean development team on the use of function points as a measure for their metrics program.

I’d never been to the Philippines before, so it was an interesting experience to be in a new place, but it was also interesting to see how function points are being used around the world.

This particular team is way above the curve as far as their processes and documentation is concerned. They were looking for a standardized process to size their change requests in order to measure productivity and quality and help forecast future projects. Their intent is to start sizing those small change requests and establish some benchmarks for their applications. Once those benchmarks are in place and they have gathered some valuable data, the team intends to start using the data to help size their larger projects. The sizing for those projects will allow them to better manage staffing, cost, and quality related to those projects.

This, of course, is something we encourage and espouse as a best practice for development teams. So, it was great to see that this mentality has really taken hold in this organization, and that they truly understand the benefits of sizing.

I also learned while I was there that several larger technology companies are starting to use the Philippines as a source to locate their infrastructure and development teams. So you may not think of the Philippines when it comes to the IT domain, but the country is starting to make some strides towards closing the gap on the rest of IT world. I know for sure that one lean development team has closed the gap and function points have allowed them to standardize their process even further.

I look forward to seeing how the use of function points continues to develop in the country – and beyond. Is your organization using function points? If not, it’s time to catch up!

 

David Lambert
Managing Consultant

Written by David Lambert at 05:00

Agile and Test-Driven Development: A Path to Improved Software Quality

AgileTDD

Agile is growing in popularity - we all know this to be true. And honestly, we're happy about it. When implemented properly, Agile offers great benefits to organizations. However, even with those benefits, there is one major drawback to the framework: it does not offer a strict definition of testing. 

With no definition, it's up to the individual organization to decide how to proceed with testing. The problem with this is that most organizations tend not to prioritize testing the way that they should. Instead of early detection and prevention, they leave testing until the end of a project, or even the end of a sprint, so it's more time consuming and costly to address. 

The answer lies in Test-Driven Development (TDD). TDD naturally complements the Agile framework, and it directly leads to software that is higher in quality. It also increases communication between the developers and testers, and ultimately between IT and the business (who are writing the requirements). 

To learn more about what TDD is and how it can work in tandem with Agile, read our latest publication, "Test-Driven Development and Agile."

Questions? Comments? Let us know!

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Written by Default at 05:00
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IT Digitization

Michael D. HarrisAs you all know, I like to share interesting bits and pieces from the reading that I do. Like many of you out there, I subscribe to a number of industry publications, which help me get a sense of current trends, new tools, etc. in the software industry.

Today I wanted to share some takeaways from “Raising Your Digital IQ,” an article from the February 2016 issue of Strategy+Business. The article was written based on a global survey of business leaders, which showcased how the smartest companies are using technology.

The fact is – and this should not be news to anyone – that digital technology is becoming a key part of any IT strategy. The gap between traditional and digital IT is widening, and companies who are not adapting to the change will be left behind.

I suggest checking out the article for the findings, but I’d like to focus on some key points here.

This article quotes GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who has had this position since 2001. One particular thing I found interesting was Immelt’s comment that every industrial company will soon be a software and analytics company. Of course I find this interesting, given that our mission here at DCG is all about making software value visible.  I’m hoping that all these new software and analytics companies will take a hard-headed view towards their software investments and go for software value instead of “me too.”

For GE, a focus on analytics means a single, technology-enabled platform that supports innovation, operations, and customer support. What this looks like at any given organization will vary, but the future is using data to improve business.

Next? The effect of this transformation on budgeting. Traditional IT costs are now transforming too; for instance, cloud-based services are often cheaper to run and support. But, digitization also likely means an increased use of tools to manage the work – and not just in IT. This democratization of technology means that IT spending is now widespread in organizations – in fact, the article notes that in 2015 68 percent of technology spending was outside of IT. But, this too brings new considerations; when other departments are making their own IT choices, it can lead to incompatible systems, security risks, and off-strategy investments.

How is your organization planning its digital strategy?

Read, “Raising Your Digital IQ,” here.


Mike Harris
CEO

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
Categories :

Focused on One Goal: Business Value Delivery

Scrum Alliance

This past week, the Scrum Alliance published an article I wrote, “What is Productivity in Agile?.” Productivity can be a painstaking conversation for Agile teams, who are dedicated to following the principles in the Agile Manifesto, aimed at improving productivity, but they are often pulled in the opposite direction by management to achieve a higher velocity.

In my article, I discuss how everyone (IT and the business units) needs to focus on the same end goal – business value delivery. To do this, they must jointly define value metrics and ensure all team members, both in IT and the business side, understand those metrics and are held accountable for achieving them.

I have seen my clients successfully use metrics for Cost of Delay (CoD) and Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) to help prioritize their projects based on business value. I believe that having the IT team and business unit collaborate to create relative metrics in these two areas is a good starting point, but it is also critical that everyone is held accountable for improving value. 

Organizations need to put standard processes in place to ensure the appropriate parties (this includes the business unit) are involved in the entire software development process and that the metrics are not being decided on by one individual, such as the product owner. The business units may push back on being so involved in the process as they will expect the IT department to simply do what they have asked. However, if they realize that the collaboration with IT is more than just about efficiency, but also about enabling them to justify the expenditure to management, they may be less resistant to being involved in the process.

Check out the complete article on the Scrum Alliance website. I welcome your feedback on how your team prioritizes your projects.


Mike Harris
CEO

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00

"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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