Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Craig Lowell, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Mark Ross-Smith, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Machine Learning , Agile Computing

Microservices Expo: Article

The Odd Couple: Marrying Agile and Waterfall

Interfacing between Linear Waterfall and Agile Approaches

This article depicts the best practice approach for integrating Agile approaches and specifically Scrum development with traditional overarching linear approaches, specifically waterfall methodology. The agile PMO, properly defined, can be positioned to secure Agile-Scrum benefits while maintaining the necessary overarching control.

The challenge
Over the last two decades, various Agile approaches have been introduced and practiced. Of these, in last 5 to 7 years, Scrum has gained the most popularity resulting from a combination of simplicity, ease of use, and effective public relations. Scrum success in software development organizations has been a powerful driver for roll outs across products, industries and businesses. As described, this was exacerbated by a focused marketing effort from Scrum evangelists. Unfortunately, most of these organizations were not structured in a way that supports the Agile-Scrum approach and methods. Even more so, scrum in its raw and pure form is not suitable for the majority of organizations.

The first wave of failed Agile-Scrum implementations brought about an even stricter admonition, based on an unwavering belief from Scrum zealots. The main assertion has been that failed implementations are a result of partial embracing of the true scrum spirit and the full benefits of the approach can only be attained if the entire organization is reengineered. This fanatical attitude left many project teams across organizations big and small, struggling with their already idealistic implementations. Some have been figuring out on their own, how to combine the contemporary and traditional worlds. Other teams have completely abandoned the Agile-Scrum concepts reverting back to the traditional linear waterfall approach and method. Yet other teams, ridden with guilt, manage Scrum by name only, and hiss vehemently at any project management proponent who is unfortunate enough to advise on re-embracing Agile in a more cognizant approach.

The concepts which are presented and embodied in Agile-Scrum are too good to be ignored; however implementing it outside pure software development requires adaptation.

Complex scenarios for Agile
The main hurdle in achieving the benefits of Agile- Scrum outside software development is integrating it with existing control mechanisms. These control mechanisms are stipulated due to various organizational prerequisites and are normally actualized by using the Linear Waterfall approach and methodology. Four of these typical organizational prerequisites are depicted below:

  • Big global corporates: in these hierarchical matrix organizations, top down portfolio control is the rule of the day. The free spirited agile approach has a tough time adjusting to the rigorous controls. Specifically the inherent Agile plan-free concepts, make Agile-Scrum difficult for the organization to swallow.
  • Highly regulated industries: some industries are required by compliance and governance bodies to have a strict binding control mechanism. These can be for example medical equipment, aircraft, and pharmaceuticals research and product development business units. While individual teams might operate Agile-Scrum, the development process must follow a rigid Linear Waterfall approach method for traceability and governance.
  • Complex predefined products: some integrated products which include both hardware, software, imbedded and more are developed as a contract with an end customer under a predefined set of requirements. In these cases the degree of requirement flexibility is small, though larger than what is anticipated initially. The concept of a fully flexible backlog of Agile-Scrum suffers considerably in these cases.
  • Generic IT departments: much of the daily and weekly activities in maintenance driven IT departments is ad hoc. Changes to the daily schedules are numerous and immediate. Constant interferences in the teams work are the norm. The concept of time boxing and no interference is difficult to maintain in these situations.

Naturally - many times the four discrete categories detailed above, actually mix; so it is common to find a complex product in a global big corporate which is required to comply with firm regulation.

Based on practical experience, the recommended method to tackle these scenarios and others is by empowering the Agile PMO to act as an enabler, driver and translator between the emerging Agile-Scrum teams and the Linear Waterfall elements.

Refer to the table below for specific guidelines

The Agile PMO - leading the hybrid organization - guidelines

Scenario

Challenge

Possible solution

Comments

Insights

Big global corporates

Strict controls manifested in Linear Waterfall

The Agile PMO is the buffer between Agile-Scrum teams and the Linear view

Burn down charts are translated to phases for control;

Requirement traceability done by PMO architect;

Agile PMO maintains the dictionary between sprint planning, execution and the phase gating mechanism

Product owners can be part of the Agile PMO;

Project initiating and closing managed by the PMO

Scenario

Challenge

Possible solution

Comments

Insights

Highly regulated industries

Strict compliance and paper trail requirement including product risk analysis

The Agile PMO is also resourced by administrative staff to ensure compliance with regulations

Product risk is managed on a lifecycle view with members of the Scrum-Agile team;

Backlog populated by Non-functional yet critical requirement and owned by the Agile PMO

Agile PMO staff maintains traceability of these requirements.

Necessary documentation is part of the backlog

The added administrative effort handled by the PMO is compensated by the increased velocity of the Agile teams.

Administrative PMO staff can also be non-functional product owners to ensure compliance aspects

Scenario

Challenge

Possible solution

Comments

Insights

Complex predefined products

Limited flexibility in product scope tends to deteriorate  Agile implementations to Agile by name only; Also, hardware elements of product can't be performed in an Agile approach

The Agile PMO owns the backlog interfacing with the various components of product development - managing a hybrid Agile-Linear project

This is probably the most difficult and tricky scenario to tackle;

It requires technical as well as leadership propensity and know-how.

Experience shows that by investigating creatively - Agile concepts can be implemented in rigid hardware development environments

Also - rigid product requirements still allow usually 20% flexibility

the most value added can be reaped in this scenario by developing a customized mixed approach;

Agile stage deliveries can be used to increase flexibility.

Concepts of incremental deliveries may sometimes not be achievable in all product aspects

Scenario

Challenge

Possible solution

Comments

Insights

Generic IT departments

Constant changes to team's work, inability to see the big picture due to ad-hoc work interfering;

missing a true product owner

The Agile PMO substitutes the product owner role in acting as a buffer to oncoming requests also protecting effort to reasonable levels

Many disheartened IT departments have become bitter when trying to use Agile to their development and ongoing work; the result has been fatigue laden team, viewing Agile as a vicious manipulation to increase output without genuine management support; more than a single project management approach can be practiced

Noticeably, Kanban works better for these environments;

Time boxing still makes sense, however a certain predefined buffer for ad-hoc work should be built into each sprint; Sprint durations should be flexible

 

 

Important best practices to remember that go hand in hand with the Agile PMO:

  • Implementing Agile-Scrum as a restricting admonition is exploiting the adaptive nature of Agile
  • There is no one right way - no one size fits them all;
  • There is no silver bullet - you can create what works for you;
  • Being agile and adaptive also allows being flexible with how one uses the methods, process and Methodology;
  • Time boxing is great as long as you are flexible to change the durations of the time box if necessary;
  • Sometimes the client isn't directly available, in these cases marketing and product management are a proper alternate;
  • Arbitrary rules don't complete projects, people do! Empower your team and yourself to choose the appropriate mix of approaches that enable product delivery.

Summary
In my book about the Agile PMO I describe how PMOs can succeed only if they create and enhance value through smart portfolio selection (more about that in a future white paper). With the emerging of Agile approaches and specifically Scrum methods new opportunities have become apparent. Integrating them into an existing control structure - typically presented by a waterfall lifecycle - can be frustrating. We have defined a new key player - the Agile PMO which can be positioned to create a transformation / translation layer between the approached and methods, contributing to higher success levels of these integrations.

 

The Agile PMO Michael Nir

More Stories By Michael Nir

Michael Nir - President of Sapir Consulting - (M.Sc. Engineering) has been providing operational, organizational and management consulting and training for over 15 years. He is passionate about Gestalt theory and practice, which complements his engineering background and contributes to his understanding of individual and team dynamics in business. Michael authored 8 Bestsellers in the fields of Influencing, Agile, Teams, Leadership and others. Michael's experience includes significant expertise in the telecoms, hi-tech, software development, R&D environments and petrochemical & infrastructure industries. He develops creative and innovative solutions in project and product management, process improvement, leadership, and team building programs. Michael's professional background is analytical and technical; however, he has a keen interest in human interactions and behaviors. He holds two engineering degrees from the prestigious Technion Institute of Technology: a Bachelor of civil engineering and Masters of Industrial engineering. He has balanced his technical side with the extensive study and practice of Gestalt Therapy and "Instrumental Enrichment," a philosophy of mediated learning. In his consulting and training engagements, Michael combines both the analytical and technical world with his focus on people, delivering unique and meaningful solutions, and addressing whole systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, introduced the technologies required for implementing these idea...
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...