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The Importance of Practice-based Development for Sustaining Agile Change

Most software development teams rarely lack access to defined techniques or processes, but information can

quickly build to become unwieldy, providing teams with too much information, and often with far too much “friction”

and “noise” – with people using different terminology for similar ideas, or indeed the same terminology for different

ideas, causing unnecessary debate and confusion and distracting everyone from the primary goal of adding value

to the software product.

Often the most valuable nuggets of professional practice become buried and lost inside other larger descriptions

of apparently highly prescriptive processes, which considered as a whole are heavy-weight, impractical for many

purposes, and become unpopular and discredited over time.

While it is critical that local empowerment of teams are able to adopt the practices that will work best for their team,

at the organisational level there are many drivers and benefits that require commonality of language and approach.

These include effective communication with stakeholders, transparency of project status and progress for the purpose

of governance, as well as project continuity and sustained improvement — despite change-overs in suppliers,

contractors and employees over time.

Many organisations struggle with recognizing and implementing cohesive delivery cultures and approaches across

many types of projects that have their own internal challenges and structures.

Effective work practices can be lost to faddism. Dr. Ivar Jacobson, chairman of Ivar Jacobson International and a

father of modern business engineering, is often quoted as saying that software development is as trendy as the

fashion industry.

“Instead of a true engineering discipline for software, what we see today is a tendency to adopt

new ideas based on popular fashion rather than appropriateness; a lack of a sound, widely accepted

theoretical basis; a huge number of methods, whose differences are little understood; a

lack of credible experimental evaluation and validation; and a split between industry practice and

academic research.” Real Software Engineering by Ivar Jacobson and Ed Seidewitz


There must be a better way

What if we had some common ground — a common terminology that describes the things that are fundamentally

true and critically important for all software development? A way to share and combine good ideas and practices

from many sources within this shared common framework? An improved way would drive a consistent approach and

delivery across an organisation and enable flexibility of use across teams.

The above content was taken from Part 2 of Ivar Jacobson International's Creating Sustainable Change epub series. To read the full piece, register for the series here.

Creating Sustainable Agile Change

Creating Sustainable Agile ChangeIn 2011, Marc Andreesson, founder of Netscape and investor in many Silicon Valley start-ups penned an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Software is Eating the World”, which outlined how all companies now rely on software to drive their business. Whether software is at the core of a business such as Google, or an integral part of an organisation’s go-to-market strategy such as Walmart or critical for a government agency to communicate to millions of citizens, software is changing the world. Organisations are increasingly reliant on software to differentiate from their competitors, respond to regulatory or legislative requirements, improve legacy systems, get to market faster, deliver new and innovative services or products to customers, and the list goes on.

Software has now become core to any business and many change initiatives are driven out of the need to deliver better, faster, cheaper solutions. Those organisations that can introduce change, adopt it and sustain it will have competitive advantage while those unable to embrace change will fall behind.

In this fast-paced, responsive world, software development teams are adopting agile techniques to speed up development times and reduce risks, while simultaneously becoming more responsive to the needs of their customers. Many organisations have kick-started their agile journey and many have successfully introduced agile on a team basis; however, the real challenge is ensuring that agile can scale and is sustainable as corporate plans and personnel evolve over time.  Different people will have varying views and ideas of applying and scaling agile and often good corporate practices become lost as a change initiative matures.  Helping organizations embed, sustain and scale agile ways of working is at the heart of Ivar Jacobson International’s (IJI) expertise, skillset and intellectual property.

We have produced a multi-part epub series to share with readers our approach to creating sustainable change. You can register for the series here.

700 Engineers, 72 Teams, 3 Continents and Self-Sufficiency in less than 9 months

700 Engineers, 72 Teams, 3 Continents and Self Sufficiency in less than 9 monthsCell phones, smart phones and tablets are pervasive. We live in a mobile world of wirelessly connected devices that have transformed the way we live, work and play.  The internet is now becoming so ubiquitous that half of the world’s population will be connected to the Internet by 2017.1 In 2012, 26% of Internet traffic originated with non-PC devices, but by 2017 the non-PC share of Internet traffic will grow to 49%.2

Behind the scenes of the services and technology that we often now take for granted are large equipment vendors who produce the software and equipment for mobile and fixed network operators around the globe.

Ivar Jacobson International provided its consulting services to one particular business unit at a large telecommunications equipment vendor, which had approximately 1500 employees, based in Europe and Asia with approximately half of these people involved in software development.

Business Drivers for Change

In 2013, due to intensely competitive pressures in a fierce global market, the telecommunications vendor decided it needed to change the way it organized its software teams in a particular division and the way it went about delivering software. They urgently needed to create competitive advantage by:

  • Improving responsiveness (delivering what customers really needed)
  • Increasing delivery precision (delivering product when customers needed it)
  • Building greater quality into the finished product.

The root cause of the issues lay in the existing, very traditional, stove-piped, development process, with many different handovers between teams. An agile approach was decided as the best way of meeting the improvement needs and transforming their software development operation.  However, simply adopting Scrum would not be enough due to the sheer scale of the organization. What was needed was an approach that could scale, both to the numbers of people involved, and to the large programs of work being undertaken. Based on previous positive experience of working with Ivar Jacobson International (IJI), in mid-2013, IJI was selected to advise on the way forward and assist with the agile adoption.

Read the full Case Study

SAFe 3.0

Ivar Jacobson International remains committed to the Scaled Agile Framework – delivering Leading SAFe (SAFe Agilist) and SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) Certifications as well as providing SAFe consulting services.

We are currently putting together our 2015 SAFe training schedule and plan to expand our geographic reach as well as the number of classes that will be available. Watch for dates and times coming soon!

On July 28, 2014, a new version of SAFe was released. This release included extensive refinements to many elements of the methodology infrastructure, updates to most articles, as well as new content and guidance that helps enterprises better organize around value delivery, and improve coordination of large value streams.

IJI’s upcoming courses: SAFe Program Consultant on October 6, 2014, and our Leading SAFe course on November 17, 2014, will both teach the new release of the Scaled Agile Framework – SAFe 3.0.

Ivar Jacobson International is the only European SAFe partner with two SPCT  instructors. Our SAFe program consultants have years of experience of guiding large enterprises through successful agile implementations.