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Tangible Strategies for Aligning Your Processes with Agile

SECOND EDITION

By Kim Hobson

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge, TN, USA


ABSTRACT

This paper describes a victory: how a highly functioning project team adapted a traditional software development methodology while staying true to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, converging the two to meet both process maturity requirements and the project’s needs. The project has been an overwhelming success. The resulting software has aided customers in not only meeting but exceeding their mission goals, and the project team has remained cohesive, happy, and productive.

Introduction

In the software development world, “process” is a dirty word. Process implies stale unnecessary rigor that bogs down creativity and the swiftness with which products can be delivered, potentially impairing momentum. Mention process to a software development team and watch the resulting eye rolling. Using an Agile approach seems so much better – the antithesis of following a cumbersome process.

Here’s something you may already know. “The Agile Manifesto” includes 12 principles, one of which is At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly (Agile Alliance, 2001). The trick, in terms of processes, is determining how the secret synergy of processes can work best; how a project team can employ necessary rigor while letting team members stay in the flow.

G2

Victory over the process conundrum came by way of a project funded by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Its name is a mouthful: the NNSA Program Management Information System Generation 2, called simply “G2.”

In February 2007, G2 was the brain child of a meeting wherein the G2 system’s initial functions, design assumptions, budget, and schedule were agreed upon by a federal NNSA sponsor in Washington, DC, and an IT project manager based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee. The goal was to have a functioning G2 system by September 2007. At the time, G2 was a program information and performance management system that integrated DOE headquarters and national laboratory scope, schedule, and budget information at the project level, creating a single repository of data. It also integrated financial data for budgeting and cost reporting in addition to providing geographic information systems (GIS) visualization to monitor work progress worldwide. One of the fundamental requirements of the system was to provide DOE with a “common truth” for reporting at a time when the program office was experiencing budget increases at a 70–80% rate. The visibility and expectation of the program to achieve its mission, “to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites worldwide,” (National Nuclear Security Administration) was increasing, and the G2 system was integral to the process, both for planning and progress reporting. To have data integrity issues was unthinkable. To miss the September deadline was also unthinkable. Imagine the pressure.

The G2 project was then, and still is today, a project that moves at breakneck speed. Don’t be fooled though. G2 is also all about excellence. The expectation for every member of the project from the executive sponsor through the ranks of team leads and down through the entire project team can be put into one word: Excellence. A desire for excellence drives the team. Retaining that excellence and staying on deadline is tough.

More…

To read entire paper, click here

 

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 3rd annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium in College Park, Maryland, USA in May 2016.  It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.

 


 

About the Author

pmwj48-Jul2016-Hobson-PHOTO
Kim Hobson

Tennessee, USA

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Kim Hobson
is an award-winning PMP with nearly 30 years of project management and business operations experience. Kim has used her strategic insight and clear communication style to help numerous diverse organizations define their business processes, build relationships, and actuate performance. Kim is a currently a Project Manager at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, USA, where she leads a software development project for the intelligence community and provides operational business analysis for a number of National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) initiatives homed at ORNL. Kim received her B.S. in Business Administration from The University of Tennessee, earned an MBA from Trident University, and is a certified SAFe Agilist. Email: [email protected]