Is Your Company Ready for an Agile Process?

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is the Practice Director for Slalom’s Delivery Effectiveness solutions. He is based in Chicago and enjoys bringing actionable, tactical solutions to his clients to help them improve their delivery.

Co-written by Phil Hampel

We can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.
–Daniel Millman, author, and lecturer

What is Agile?
Many development shops are looking to move to Agile. Agile offers new approaches for many old school shops, and promises greater results. However, moving into this performance culture takes more than desire. Agile methodologies are not about getting things done faster or cheaper–they are about doing the right thing at the right time and maintaining a high degree of quality while doing it.

Once everyone is committed to the new way of working together, one can be more certain that the organization is ready for the change.  One of the largest misconceptions about Agile is that there is no project plan and that there is an associated open checkbook. These assumptions are false. While the planning approach is different, there is a plan. And while there is an expectation of change, it is important to remember that change does not come without a cost. Requests for work will be prioritized from 1 to n based on business value, and may subsequently be re-ordered. But since the team will play  part in this ordering of work, the team becomes accountable. For this new level of team accountability, new expectations are required. Read more of this post

Managing a “Real” Review Process

Slalom Consultant Carl Manello

Carl Manello is a Solution Lead for Program & Project Management based in Chicago who enjoys exploring how to tightly couple the art and science of project delivery with business operations.

Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.”
–John Steinbeck

I have seen the program review process in many companies reduced to no more than a “dog and pony show.” These so-called Gate Reviews are nothing more than the equivalent of Mr. Steinbeck’s unqualified praise. With little substance offered–such as true metrics that help to predict delivery–the reviews are reduced to nothing more than a chance for management to attend another meeting.

The intent of a program process life cycle is to ensure quality and cost effective delivery by flexibly applying a rigorous process for major business initiatives. The process consists of sequential milestone gates configured around standard program life cycle phases. Reviews should be used at each quality gate to gauge the progress and direction of the initiative (not just to supply unqualified praise!).  In addition, the gates may be tightly coupled to a financial approval or appropriation process. Additional interim quality gates may also be added within a phase to enhance program success and minimize risk, but the key gates can be viewed as a minimum set for effective governance. Read more of this post

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