Tuesday, 25 February 2014

How I Fell in Love With Impact Mapping...

12 months ago my team was engaged to provide a very rough estimate for a large new reporting and analytics program.  Over the next 5 months we cycled back and forth until eventually the sponsor decided to proceed and nominated a “business lead” to work with us. Excited by the problem, I quickly reached out and invited the nominee to visit our site, meet the development team and understand the work in progress.  From this meeting we established that the program had a number of senior stakeholders with competing priorities, so I offered to help facilitate a workshop with the stakeholders to clarify the scope and priorities.  The offer was accepted and the workshop was held a few weeks later.

I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when the workshop attendees turned out to be external consultants, rather than the actual senior business stakeholders we had expected.  Surprises aside, the consultants were credible enough proxies for us to feel we were making good progress cobbling together high level scope and priorities.  Good enough, in fact, that we moved roughly the top priority scope items forward into a discovery phase, enabling us to produce a long and expensive plan to deliver about half the scope!

As the proverb says every cloud has a silver lining. Our unappealing plan led to an invitation to present (“explain”) to the senior business stakeholders at the program governance meeting. The presentation sparked a lively conversation about timing, priorities and scope. The program lead, responsible for getting the business case approved and funding released, requested a “deep dive” to understand who had requested each feature and associated benefit. Empathising with him as I recalled harrowingly similar situations in my past life as a business sponsor, I offered to facilitate the “deep dive” he requested.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Can You Be SAFe Without PI Planning?

The concept of a PI (Program Increment), is generally considered the corner stone of cadence in SAFe. In simple terms, +Dean recommends that a PI consists of between 4 and 6 two week sprints including a IP sprint (Innovation & Planning.) and each PI commences with a two day "all hands" release planning event during which a high level delivery plan is produced for the PI. As readers of this blog would already be aware, when we launched our first release train, we did not have enough funded development work in the pipeline to justify a full blown release planning event, so we invented Unity Day.

Given we could not use the PSI cadence initially we adopted a rolling wave planning approach. Late last year demand started to exceed supply for the first time in the brief history of the EDW Release Train. Our first response was to add an additional team to our Release Train. When a couple of months later we found we were still feeling severely capacity constrained, the concept of implementing PI Planning as per textbook SAFe became a regular topic of conversation at our leadership team lean coffee.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Scaling Agile Data Warehousing

Use this link to download a free copy of my article on Scaling Agile Data Warehousing from the January 2014 issue of the Cutter IT Journal.