Tag Archives: DevOps

How Agile is your Organization?

Maximum flexibility requires maximum responsibility!

Being Agile as an organization and Agile application delivery has been on the radar of many CIO’s and CTO’s trying to reduce the time to market of systems under their control.  Often I see agility being interpreted by the other C-levels as a methodology for maximum project flexibility. However maximum flexibility requires maximum responsibility to achieve business value and that is not a solely technical issue, on the contrary!

Being effective in Agile delivery requires a lot of maturity in different areas during project delivery. We will be looking at six axes besides the typical technical one:

  1. Technical Environment
  2. Quality Management
  3. User Experience
  4. Team Dynamics
  5. Ownership Management
  6. Project Management
  7. Company’s Eco-System

To generate maximum value, the Agile methodology has guiding principles and these have to be translated in operating procedures. Based on earlier work of M. Balbes, we propose a model to quantify this operational effectiveness by scoring a list of required capabilities according to maturity going from no capabilities to innovating and leading capabilities.

An Excel version to score your organization can be downloaded here:

Before we try to measure something, what are the Agile principles companies should adhere to?

  1. Delivery Value: Focus on continuously delivery value to the customer, key-users …
  2. Embrace Change: Change is good and inevitable. Change avoids waste by adapting before it is too late.
  3. Business + ICT: Avoid Chinese walls between teams. Work closely together every day.
  4. Simplicity: Focusing on what is good enough to avoid gold-plating. Work smarter not harder.
  5. Frequent Delivery: Delivery version frequently to have short feedback cycles.
  6. Self-Organizing Teams: Motivated individuals will be able to identify how to organize the work and what they need.
  7. Communication: Transparent, open and face-to-face communication helps insights and clear understanding.
  8. Self-Emerging: Avoid analysis-paralysis and big design up-front. Design for what is needed now and adapt.
  9. Progress Monitoring: Measure progress as delivered software i.e. potential shippable product increments.
  10. Constant Pace: The team should work according at a pace they can keep up without feeling pressured.
  11. Technical Excellence: Focus on the quality of artefacts and development process.
  12. Continuous Improvement: Be self-reflective and make incremental improvements to the development process.

For the different axes an organization needs to have some capabilities in place and below some examples of these capabilities. The detailed list can be found in the attached Excel model.

Technical Environment capabilities check if the principles of extreme programming are enabled. What is the company’s maturity for following capabilities:

  • Unit testing, test driven development and technical testing approaches
  • Continuous integration methods
  • Pair programming – Spikes experimentation
  • Source control – Branching strategy approaches
  • Release management
  • Coding standards usage
  • Development process – Software Development Life Cycle
  • Shared code ownership
  • Software changeability enablement

Quality Management validates if quality assurance is taken in favor of quality measurement. What is the company’ maturity for following capabilities:

  • Quality management process
  • Code Quality – Internal – External Quality impact analysis
  • Team’s  ownership of quality
  • Defect management
  • User acceptance testing – Exploratory testing

User Experience looks at the application of multi-disciplinary teams since developers are not designers. What is the company’s maturity for following capabilities:

  • Graphical Design – UX selection process
  • Embedded usability testing

Team Dynamics focuses how people collaborate and how self-reflective they are. What is the company’s maturity for following capabilities:

  • Team Structure – Charter agreements
  • Team discussion – Conflict resolution processes
  • Retrospectives – Stand-Ups organizations
  • Information radiators availability
  • Continuous improvements
  • Change acceptance process

Ownership Management goal is to see how well the link between business and IT is managed to enhance a project’s business value. What is the company’ maturity for following capabilities:

  • Identified stakeholders management
  • User stories – Story sizing principles
  • Acceptance criteria – Owner acceptance process
  • Delivering value – User feedback management
  • Prioritization – Backlog – Release Cadence organization
  • Backlog – Change management

Project Management looks for transparency in reporting and collaboration enhancement. What is the company’s maturity for following capabilities:

  • Kaban – Milestones overview
  • Decisions – Meeting minutes creation
  • Staffing alignment

Finally we have the company’s Eco-System or the environment. What is the company’s maturity for following capabilities:

  • Risk Identification – Monitoring – Mitigation
  • Embedded learning culture
  • Change – Champions creation and management
  • Governance – Internal Change – External Change management

An overview presentation can be downloaded here:

Building Evolutionary Architectures

Controlling the Fitness of Your Software Architecture!

In their book “Building Evolutionary Architectures”, N. Ford, R. Parsons and P. Kua introduce a new way to look at software architecture where changes to requirements become part of the business as usual. These concepts were already set in motion by Agile, DevOps and CI/CD but the authors add a refreshing concept to the mix.

How are we going to measure the suitability of our architecture compared to the every changing requirements?

The proposed solution lays in measuring how far or how close the characteristic of the current architecture are from the ideal or expected characteristics. The solution was inspired by statistical models were we want to fit a curve to a set of data points by fitting a function. An expression of the suitability of the curve’s function is called the fitness of such a function.

The same concept can be applied to software architectures. Required architectural characteristics a.k.a. as the technical *-abilities can be measured by fitness functions. When the architecture changes the impact is measured by these fitness functions and as a result the changes become quantifiable and controllable.

An architectural fitness function provides an objective integrity assessment of some architectural characteristic. Combining the outcomes of the collection of fitness functions gives a view on the overall architecture.

Making architecture capable of evolving requires 3 things:

  • An architecture that supports incremental change
  • An architecture that can be measured so the changes can be guided
  • An architecture with the appropriate level of coupling to allow for an optimal change process

More details on the topic can be found in:

Managing the Unmanageable

“When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers”. In managing the unmanageable, Mantle and Lichty, explain how to run a software development team from hiring and firing to project inception and delivery. Interesting read for every project manager.

The book covers eight topics:

  1. Software Development is difficult
  2. Understanding Software Developers
  3. Finding and Hiring Great Programmers
  4. Getting New Programmers Started Off Right
  5. Effective Programming Manager
  6. Motivating Programmers
  7. Creating a Successful Programming Culture
  8. Successful Software Delivery

Microsoft’s view on Apps and DevOps. MS Build 2018

Keynote by Joe Belfore focused on the two major platforms of Microsoft i.e. Office 365 and Azure.

O365 next step is the focus on multiple devices and multi-sense. The basis for interconnecting devices is the MS Graph. It is an Azure backed data store that holds information provided by Microsoft Apps and it is used to transfer information between apps to get a better overall user experience. Microsoft wants developers to integrate every App they write with MS Graph as the more data the merrier. Good user experience is driven by rich user context. Continue reading

Tearing Down the Application Development Fortress

A plea for multi-disciplined development teams


Creating applications is a multi-skill effort that comes with a set of challenges. For an average sized application there are 5 skills involved:

  • Graphical design
  • Business analysis
  • Application development
  • Software testing
  • System operations

… not even taken into account other stakeholders like end-users, DBA’s, enterprise architects, security officers, project and program managers, change management, user experience design …

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