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Struggling to Scale Agile? | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #Agile #DigitalTransformation
Ensuring better adoption and sustenance

From slow and rigid to fast and flexible. That was the promise of Agile to IT. What it meant was that ideas coming from business would be converted into working software rapidly. It meant that IT will be more responsive to what business wants and needs and will not spend an eternity analysing the requirements, writing detailed specifications and then sending them back to business to review. Some of that has happened. Product backlogs are more informal and easier to maintain and update than formal specifications. IT pushes business to prioritize and tries to break the requirements down so that they are both manageable and valuable and can be delivered in short sprints of 2~3 weeks. So far so good. However, what happens after that is a bit complicated.

In the recent past, as I observe agile projects in organization after organization, sometimes as a consultant, sometimes as a Scrum Master and sometimes just as an invisible fly on the wall, I notice organizations struggling to scale. There is a high degree of awareness and obsession with the mechanics of agile but without an equivalent grounding on the fundamentals. Yes, there is SAFE, LeSS, etc., but frameworks are good when you know how to apply them in your context. Otherwise, you get drowned under new rules and terminology. Here is a summary of my recommendations for organizations trying to scale Agile:

1. Architecture
Agile discourages grand upfront design. Recommendation is to do a design which is sufficient for the prioritized user stories and then iteratively improve it so that it is able to accommodate newer stories. The overall architecture thus evolves and emerges. This approach is fine when you have a single scrum team working on a set of stories. The moment more scrum teams come into the picture, the concept of emergent design becomes a bit fuzzy. Two or more scrum teams working on a set of user stories without a bare minimum architectural skeleton as a reference will pose huge integration and collaboration challenges. In these scenarios, it is wise to invest some upfront effort in creating an architectural framework which all the teams agree to and will collectively evolve as the software grows. I see this explicit guideline / practice missing in many instances.

2. Work Allocation
One of the basic premise of agile was to break functional silos and align people to what the customer wants. By advocating the practice of having cross functional scrum teams, agile has solved this problem. But in many organizations I've seen functional silos giving way to scope silos - individual scrum teams too focussed only on their features or themes or scope of work at the cost of the overall system. Scrum masters need to be wary of this. This goes back to how work is allocated or pulled by individual scrum teams. If scrum teams pull items from the product backlog strictly by features assigned to them, risks of scope silos are higher. There are no easy answers. There is a dependency on the overall architecture of the product (if there is one and in a multi scrum team scenario there should be atleast a skeletal version) and the extent to which there are dependencies and modularity. In my view, to the extent possible, teams should have the freedom to pull items from the entire product backlog and not restricted to selected features or themes / epics.

3. Ownership
The Product Owner owns the system and is responsible that the right product is built. In my view, he/she owns the behaviour of the system and controls its destiny. But who owns the architecture, design and other internals of the system? You can alter the internals and yet get the same behaviour - who controls what can be changed and what cannot be?. In a multi scrum team structure it is very important to fix that ownership clearly. Related to the issue of work allocation explained above, there has to be a team who is responsible for the overall system internals and not just a set of themes or features. Projects in real life have a finite end date and products have a future state, post which only incremental changes are made to it. This means development effort over the life of the product will peak and then plateau. Extra capacity has to be released for other productive work and hence fixing system ownership early on is very important.

4. Communication and Noise
Agile gives importance to individuals and the interactions between them. Popular literature recommends an optimal team size of 7 and so does Scrum. At the same time multi scrum teams are a reality because they can provide higher throughput. To be effective a team should be shielded from external interference and be allowed to focus on the job at hand. I've seen instances where 2 scrum teams have so many dependencies between them, they are constantly talking to each other. In a way, they are then actually not separate teams. The benefit of higher throughput should be weighed against the cost of higher interference and communication overhead between multiple teams. In my view, while interactions within the team should be encouraged, that between the teams should be controlled lest it leads to chaos.

5. Nurturing Excellence
Today, the word 'waterfall' has almost taken on evil connotations. We're so paranoid about the term 'functional silos' that we assume than any 'functional' team is necessarily a 'silo'. That is far from true. Technical excellence is necessary to live upto the promise of Agile. How do you nurture that? Smart developers learn from smart developers and challenge each other to reach higher levels of expertise. Same is true for architects, testers and other members of a product team. Organizations should provide forums or structures where professionals practising the same craft can learn and interact with each other. It is perfectly normal for a developer to have strong affiliations towards his / her scrum team as well as the developer community inside or outside organizations. Organizations should provide the opportunity to maintain and nourish these multiple identities. They strengthen our collaborative capabilities in a cross functional forum, not diminish them.

6. Integration
This is one of the basic best practices which is not adhered to very consistently. In a multi scrum team scenario continuous (preferably automated and daily) integration needs to happen not just within but between scrum teams. Many organizations have this concept of an integration sprint at the end of 2~3 sprints which is basically a recipe for disaster and very watefallish in approach as it is delaying the discovery of the inevitable bugs and thereby the cost of resolving them. It is better that everybody stops working and resolve any integration problem when it happens rather than keeping them in a backlog and allowing technical debt to accumulate. I agree that in some context there would be technical limitations to integration but let those not be by design. Multiple teams feeding from a single gold version and collectively merging their versions might seem messy but if done regularly and with discipline, makes integration a non-event.

About Sujoy Sen
Sujoy is a TOGAF Certified Enterprise Architect, a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and Manager of Organizational Excellence from American Society for Quality, a PMP, a CISA, an Agile Coach, a Devops Evangelist and lately, a Digital enthusiast. With over 20 years of professional experience now, he has led multiple consulting engagements with Fortune 500 customers across the globe. He has a Masters Degree in Quality Management and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering. He is based out of New Jersey.

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WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers Include

MATTHIEU
Octoblu

MAHADEV
Cisco

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

FELICIANO
AMDG

PAUL
VenueNext

SMITH
Eviot

BEAMER
goTraverse

GETTENS
goTraverse

CHAMBLISS
ReadyTalk

HERBERTS
Cityzen Data

REITBAUER
Dynatrace

WILLIAM-
SON

Cloud
Computing

SCHMARZO
EMC

WOOD
VeloCloud

WALLGREN
Electric Cloud

VARAN-
NATH

GE

SRIDHARA-
BALAN

Pulzze

METRIC
Linux

MONTES
Iced

ARIOLA
Parasoft

HOLT
Daitan

CUNNING-
HAM

ReadyTalk

BEDRO-
SIAN

Cypress

NAMIE
Cisco

NAKA-
GAWA

Transparent
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SHIBATA
Transparent
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BOYD
Neo4j

WARD
DWE

MILLER
Covisint

EVAVOLD
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MEINER
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MEEHAN
Esri

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ROWE
IBM Cloud

SKILLERN
Intel

SMITH
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WebRTC Summit New York All-Star Speakers Include

CLELAND
HGST

VASILIOU
Catchpoint

WALLGREN
Electric Cloud

HINCH-
CLIFFE

7Summits

DE SOUZA
Cisco

RANDALL
Gartner

ARM-
STRONG

AppNeta

SMALL-
TREE

Cazena

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

DELOACH
Infobright

QUINT
Ontegrity

MALAU-
CHLAN

Buddy Platform

PALIOTTA
Vector

MITRA
Cognizant

KOCHER
Grey Heron

PAPDO
POULOS

Cloud9

HARLAN
Two Bulls

GOLO
SHUBIN

Bit6

PROIETTI
Location
Smart

MARTIN
nfrastructure

MOULINE
Everbridge

MARSH
Blue Pillar

PARKS
SecureRF

PEROTTI
Plantronics

HOFFMAN
EastBanc

WATSON
Trendalyze

BENSON-
OFF

Unigma

SHAN
CTS

MATTELA
Redpine

GILLEN
Spark
Coginition

SOLT
Netvibes

BERN-
ARDO

GE Digital

ROMAN-
SKY

TrustPoint

BEAMER
GoTransverse

LESTER
LogMeIn

PONO
-MAREVA

Google

SINGH
Sencha

CALKINS
Amadeus

KLEIN
Rachio

HOASIN
Aeris

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PHEMI

SPROULE
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SNELL
Intel

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CytexOne

ALLEN
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LUM

Falconstor

HYEDT
Seamless

WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers Include

SCHULZ
Luxoft

TAM-
BURINI

Autodesk

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

THURAI
SaneIoT

TURNER
Cloudian

ENDO
Intrepid

NAKAGAWA
Transparent

SHIBATA
Transparent

LEVANT-LEVI
testRTC

VARAN NATH
GE

COOPER
M2Mi

SENAY
Teletax

SKEEN
Vitria

KOCHER
Grey Heron

GREENE
PubNub

MAGUIRE
HP

MATTHIEU
Octoblu

STEINER-
JOVIC

AweSense

LYNN
AgilData

HEDGES
Cloudata

DUFOUR
Webroot

ROBERTS
Platform

JONES
Deep

PFEIFFER
NICTA

NIELSEN
Redis

PAOLAL-
ANTORIO

DataArchon

KAHN
Solgenia

LOPEZ
Kurento

KIM
MapR

BROMHEAD
Instaclustr

LEVINE
CytexOne

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

GORBA-
CHEV

Intelligent
Systems

THYKAT-
TIL

Navisite

TRELOAR
Bebaio

SIVARAMA-
KRISHNAN

Red Hat
Cloud Expo New York All-Star Speakers Included

DE SOUZA
Cisco

POTTER
SafeLogic

ROBINSON
CompTIA

WARUSA
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WSO2 Inc

MEINER
Oracle

CHOU
Microsoft

HARRISON
Tufin

BRUNOZZI
VMware

KIM
MapR

KANE
Dyn

SICULAR
Basho

TURNER
Cloudian

KUMAR
Liaison

ADAMIAK
Liaison

KHAN
Solgenia

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

SUSSMAN
Coalfire

ISAACSON
RMS

LYNN
CodeFutures

HEABERLIN
Windstream

RAMA
MURTHY

Virtusa

BOSTOCK
IndependenceIT

DE MENO
CommVault

GRILLI
Adobe

WILLIAMS
Rancher Labs

CRISWELL
Alert Logic

COTY
Alert Logic

JACOBS
SingleHop

MARAVEI
Cisco

JACKSON
Softlayer

SINGH
IBM

HAZARD
Softlayer

GALLO
Softlayer

TAMASKAR
GENBAND

SUBRA
-MANIAN

Emcien

LEVESQUE
Windstream

IVANOV
StorPool

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BERG

Intellyx

BUDHANI
Soha

HATHAWAY
IBM Watson

TOLL
ProfitBricks

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Microsoft

BEARFIELD
Blue Box

HERITAGE
Akana

PILUSO
SIASMSP

HOLT
IBM Cloudant

SHAN
CTS

PICCIN-
INNI

EMC

BRON-
GERSMA

Modulus

PAIGE
CenturyLink

SABHIKHI
Cognitive Scale

MILLS
Green House Data

KATZEN
CenturyLink

SLOPER
CenturyLink

SRINIVAS
EMC

TALREJA
Cisco

GORBACHEV
Systems Services Inc.

COLLISON
Apcera

PRABHU
OpenCrowd

LYNN
CodeFutures

SWARTZ
Ericsson

MOSHENKO
CoreOS

BERMING-
HAM

SIOS

WILLIS
Stateless Networks

MURPHY
Gridstore

KHABE
Vicom

NIKOLOV
GetClouder

DIETZE
Windstream

DALRY-
MPLE

EnterpriseDB

MAZZUCCO
TierPoint

RIVERA
WHOA.com

HERITAGE
Akana

SEYMOUR
6fusion

GIANNETTO
Author

CARTER
IBM

ROGERS
Virtustream
Cloud Expo Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers

TESAR
Microsoft

MICKOS
HP

BHARGAVA
Intel

RILEY
Riverbed

DEVINE
IBM

ISAACSON
CodeFutures

LYNN
HP

HINKLE
Citrix

KHAN
Solgenia

SINGH
Bigdata

BEACH
SendGrid

BOSTOCK
IndependenceIT

DE SOUZA
Cisco

PATTATHIL
Harbinger

O'BRIEN
Aria Systems

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

BIANCO
Solgenia

PROCTOR
NuoDB

DUGGAL
EnterpriseWeb

TEGETHOFF
Appcore

BRUNOZZI
VMware

HICKENS
Parasoft

KLEBANOV
Cisco

PETERS
Esri

GOLDBERG
Vormetric

CUMBER-
LAND

Dimension

ROSENDAHL
Quantum

LOOMIS
Cloudant

BRUNO
StackIQ

HANNON
SoftLayer

JACKSON
SoftLayer

HOCH
Virtustream

KAPADIA
Seagate

PAQUIN
OnLive

TSAI
Innodisk

BARRALL
Connected Data

SHIAH
AgilePoint

SEGIL
Verizon

PODURI
Citrix

COWIE
Dyn

RITTEN-
HOUSE

Cisco

FALLOWS
Kaazing

THYKATTIL
TimeWarner

LEIDUCK
SAP

LYNN
HP

WAGSTAFF
BSQUARE

POLLACK
AOL

KAMARAJU
Vormetric

BARRY
Catbird

MENDEN-
HALL

SUPERNAP

SHAN
KEANE

PLESE
Verizon

BARNUM
Voxox

TURNER
Cloudian

CALDERON
Advanced Systems

AGARWAL
SOA Software

LEE
Quantum

OBEROI
Concurrent, Inc.

HATEM
Verizon

GALEY
Autodesk

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NIMBOXX

BARSOUM
IBM

GORDON
1Plug

LEWIS
Verizon

YEO
OrionVM

NAKAGAWA
Transparent Cloud Computing

SHIBATA
Transparent Cloud Computing

NATH
GE

GOKCEN
GE

STOICA
Databricks

TANKEL
Pivotal Software


Testimonials
This week I had the pleasure of delivering the opening keynote at Cloud Expo New York. It was amazing to be back in the great city of New York with thousands of cloud enthusiasts eager to learn about the next step on their journey to embracing a cloud-first worldl."
@SteveMar_Msft
General Manager of Window Azure
 
How does Cloud Expo do it every year? Another INCREDIBLE show - our heads are spinning - so fun and informative."
@SOASoftwareInc
 
Thank you @ThingsExpo for such a great event. All of the people we met over the past three days makes us confident IoT has a bright future."
Yasser Khan
CEO of @Cnnct2me
 
One of the best conferences we have attended in a while. Great job, Cloud Expo team! Keep it going."

@Peak_Ten


Who Should Attend?
Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs & Vps of Technology, Chief Systems Engineers, IT Directors and Managers, Network and Storage Managers, Enterprise Architects, Communications and Networking Specialists, Directors of Infrastructure.

Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, & CIOs , Presidents & SVPs, Directors of Business Development , Directors of IT Operations, Product and Purchasing Managers, IT Managers.

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SYS-CON Media has a flourishing Media Partner program in which mutually beneficial promotion and benefits are arranged between our own leading Enterprise IT portals and events and those of our partners.

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To get involved, email Patricia Henderson at patricia@sys-con.com.

Digital Transformation Blogs
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-centric compute for the most data-intensive applications. Hyperconverged systems already in place can...