June 16, 2022

The Fusion – Agile/DevOps & PMO Methods To Maximize ROI Part 1

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The Challenge

Industry traditionally developed information technology (IT) systems using the waterfall process. We documented requirements before moving to the design phase. We earned customer approval for the system design before moving into the development stage and so on until the system was released into production. As many Government agencies move to Agile and DevOps environments, the linear path Government used to follow has turned into a figure eight.

New Agile and DevOps frameworks challenge Government to modify the way they manage portfolio, programs, and projects and conduct development projects to maximize their return on investment (ROI). To meet these challenges, AMDEX fused best practices from Agile/ DevOps program/project management and Agile/Dev/Ops development and operations to optimize ROI.

Five Recommendations For Management Improvements

(1) Increase Development Efficiency by Providing a Unified Vision of Customer Objectives   We train our staff in Government agency objectives and goals, so Product Owners can accurately express the voice of customer and Development Teams understand more about the context of the project. We use the information about the customer to inform our planning and minimize risk and re-work.

(2) Maintain Control Using Light Weight Yet Effective Performance Measures and Reporting Processes  We encourage Portfolio Managers to use standard measurements to oversee portfolio progress such as progress against the schedule and budget, risk, and customer satisfaction. Our Program Managers roll the data up to Portfolio Managers using information they collect at the program and project levels. The collect information on estimates vs. actuals to track time and schedule status and use progress data gleaned from velocity and burndown charts to verify progress against the plan. They also collect information on the number of groomed and ungroomed requests in the product backlog, unplanned work added to a sprint, and cumulative flow across projects to identify potential risks, issues or trends.
We also encourage our managers to implement standard and light weight reporting requirements that can automatically rolled up at the project, program or portfolio levels to satisfy customer information requirements.

(3) Adapt IT Life Cycle Governance Frameworks to Promote Efficiency Yet Ensure Compliance  Help Government tailor and streamline the IT life cycle phases and reduce documentation needs. We customize agency templates to accommodate Agile/DevOps needs and create links to agile roadmaps, release plans, sprint libraries, and product backlogs for sharing and re-use. We also built a single template that leverages historical baseline system information and captures specific components for each build. These efficiencies have eliminated redundant documentation and minimized unneeded Governance reviews and approval processes.

(4) Support Rapid Development and Operations and Setup Governance Structures to Support IT -We encourage customers to adapt DevOps governance to facilitate more frequent releases, interaction with key decision makers, and tighter feedback loops. In addition to using ad-hoc assessments of project progress outside the formal milestone or stage gate review schedule to support early risk identification. and assessment.

(5) Use Pilots to Minimize Risks and Expedite Future Projects  Before launching into a new Agile/DevOps effort, we encourage customers to conduct a pilot starting with Sprint Zero. During Sprint Zero they can finalize the project vision, conduct training, purchase and configure hardware or software, decide on the sprint duration, and develop a plan for releasing software. We also encourage customers to release a small amount of software during Sprint Zero and perform a retrospective. The lessons learned will expedite the management of new Agile/DevOps projects.

~ Paul T., AMDEX Project Manager CONNECT Program