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57938Re: [SCRUMDEVELOPMENT] Re: Scrum in regulated environemnt

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  • Cass Dalton
    Aug 18, 2014
      My experience is in a different type of regulation, but I work at a defense contractor and waterfall is heavily entrenched in the DoD.  Many contracts require specific waterfall-like milestones such as an SRR (Software Requirements Review), PDR (Preliminary Design Review), and a CDR (Critical Design Review).  We have requirements to track Earned Value (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earned_value_management) which is the epitome of build-to-plan.  I have spent the last 4 years working to change the culture in our software organization and I'll describe my experiences.

      When you are trying to change an entrenched waterfall culture, it is imperative that you truly understand why both sides (your traditional waterfall culture and agile) do the things that they do.  Most processes don't happen by accident.  There is a reason that the gov't requires us to have an SRR early in the process.  There is a reason that agile wants short iterations.  And remember, agile is not a process.  Scrum is a process.  DSDM is a process.  Agile is a set of values and principals.  You are going to have to find compromises between the agile process you pick (most likely a combination of Scrum and XP) and the culture built around your regulatory processes.  If you don't truly understand why your culture does what it does, then it will be virtually impossible to show the skeptics how you can achieve the same results through agile.  If you don't truly understand why agile does what it does, then you might easily "tweak" your agile process to suit your culture in a way that destroys some of the value of the agile process.  My inward journey took me through all of the Poppendieck books all the way to "The Toyota Way" by Jeffery Liker.  Lean and Agile share many of the same core beliefs and an understanding of Lean philosophies gives you a deeper understanding of Agile philosophies.  But even more important, the story of how GM tried to implement the lean processes of the Toyota Production System in the 80s without making the necessary culture change was enlightening.  This hammers home the concept that it's the values and the principals that's important, not the actual process.  The process and facilitate or hinder the culture, but process change without culture change will not help you (and will often make things worse).  Often you can get the most benefits out of culture change without ever changing a word of your process.

      I also had to learn quickly that your culture doesn't change overnight.  I've been pushing culture change for 4 years, and for the most part, everyone is on board, but I have yet to find a set of developers that actually want to try pair programming.  I have suggested it several times, but there are still more pressing hurdles to overcome.  But if you really get to know the concerns of the skeptics and figure out how to address them, change will happen.  It is important in the early stages to make changes that are practically guaranteed to be successful.  A few early successes will ease the change.  A few early failures can be fatal to culture change.

      It's also important to have at least one executive advocate.  No matter how powerful a grass-roots campaign is, having no executive support for agile or culture change will make your life very difficult.

      Regarding fixed requirements, we stared working with our customers to understand what their real requirements were.  There are a core set of high level requirements that are essentially fixed (i.e. the contract would be considered a "failure" if you didn't achieve them).  Sometimes all the high level requirements are fixed.  Sometimes you get a set of goals.  But it's important to specify these "must haves" at the highest level possible conceptually.  We use the term "epics" for these. We prioritize these epics based on need/risk/etc.. When we decompose these epics into stories, the stories relating to the minimal/simplest solution that satisfies these epics are put in the backlog at the priority of the epic.  And the epics don't describe the solution, the describe the need.  The epics are tracked by the PM and stakeholders like fixed requirements.  The user stories under these epics are tracked by the team per Scrum.  This is our compromise between the fixed requirements and tracking to plan of the defense contracting world and the flexible scope and emergent design of agile.

      Hope this helps.


      On Sun, Aug 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM, j.c.yip@... [SCRUMDEVELOPMENT] <SCRUMDEVELOPMENT@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      You may also want to look up Cochlear

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