IBM Innovate Comes to You – Toronto
Agile’s Role at IBM’s Software Development Conference
IBM Canada recently invited Web Financial Solutions (WFS) to participate at an IBM Conference called Innovate Comes to You. This conference is a smaller local one-day version of a much larger five-day conference that occurs once a year in Florida called “Innovate.” It’s IBM’s way to bring some of the larger conference’s content to localized markets. The conference had over 150 people registered and about half of that number attended.
It’s been a while since I have been at a manufactures’ conference – usually these conferences are ‘stuffed’ with a great deal of product information. This conference had a good deal of product and tool information but it also had a valuable theme. That theme was using an Agile-based approach to help improve software development. IBM is now using Agile (Scrum) in the development of their tools. The keynote speaker showed slide after slide of improvement metrics used to measure the improvement of Agile based projects. Each slide showed about a 50% improvement over a two year improvement process. I found that particularly interesting because that mirrors almost exactly what we are seeing.
Overall, Agile is playing a big role in IBM’s approach to software development both in tools and internal approaches.
What was on the minds of people at the conference?
About a dozen people stopped by our display to discuss their situation. The number one issue on people’s mind: How does the technical team get buy-in from the executive team on trying Agile as an approach to software development? The second issue on people’s mind was how to implement Agile in an environment that was currently producing software.
Connecting Agile improvement to the Business?
Connecting the software delivery process to the business priorities was the number one area of discussion at our table. We believe that it’s important to clarify one point – Agile is not only for software delivery and it’s not a new ‘technology.’ Rather it’s a learning framework for improvement. WFS have developed an approach to communicate Agile to the business executive with a tool called the SDLC Assessment and Improvement Roadmap. One of the deliverables of the Assessment is a Radar map showing key business dimensions and how they connect to key Agile Best Practices. We believe this helps to close the gap for business leaders to better understand where to start.
How to Implement Agile into an existing process?
Last week I had the opportunity to talk to two different companies, each had a similar story about going head-on into an SDLC improvement with a software manufacturer. One company was a financial services company and the other was a manufacturer. The results were almost identical – failure. Why did that happen and how do we prevent it? We believe it important to have focused improvement that is done incrementally. The improvement is measured with meaningful metrics so it’s self-funding. We only discuss tools after the process has been internalized by the team. We believe this is the best approach.
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