Published on February 18, 2013
Agile at the Financial TimesAn Overview of Agile Development Practices Jagdeep Singh Bhambra, PhD Head of Software Development Financial Times, London 23rd January 2013
…AND TODAY’S SPECIAL IS…• Prologue• The Dynamic Landscape• Cooperation is the Key• Promoting the Agile Lifestyle• Are We Done Yet?• In Debt• The Toy Shop• The Advert Break• This is Africa – Premium• Some Challenges• EpilogueJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
PROLOGUE“..and (they) should bring about the commencement of what is not done, the carrying out of what iscommenced, the improvement of what is being carried out, and the excellence of (the execution of)orders, in the case of works..” - Chanakya, 3 BCModern businesses such as the Financial Times require software development technologies andprocesses that are:• global• adaptable• evolving• measurable• supportable• in line with consumer technology trendsJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
THE DYNAMIC LANDSCAPE“..during the remaining parts of the day and night, he should learn new things and familiarise himself withthose already learnt, and listen repeatedly to things not learnt..” - Chanakya, 3 BC• Software development is highly accessible• Increasing change cycles• Feedback and analytics are faster• Collaboration is fuelling innovation• Social media and social CRM is altering behaviour at many levels• Exponential adaption of new technologies• Windows of opportunities are shortening• Consumption and exchange of information is becoming more rapid• Workforce is global, multi-skilled and multi-disciplined• Governance, compliance, certifications and standards are changing• Delivery frameworks are diverseJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
COOPERATION IS THE KEY“..let us two, build a fort..” - Chanakya, 3 BCKeeping things visible:• between teams and individuals• measuring progress and status• processes and methodologies• within software• utilising engineering principles• through communicating• across disciplinesJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
PROMOTING THE AGILE LIFESTYLE“..in war there are losses, expenses, marches away from home, and hindrances..” - Chanakya, 3 BCThe key is to adapt rapidly to changes in an efficient manner. This is a lifestyle – not just a process, tool or policy.The need to maintain agility requires:• focus on the entire lifespan• defining and measuring current delivery capabilities• determining the end (realised) benefits• developing and evolving the frameworks to support such a lifestyleAccording to Gartner (2012), “Agile is still seen as an issue for Governance”. The research continues to highlight keyareas where agility should be addressed: application and portfolio management. staffing, skills and sourcing, financialanalysis and budgets, vendor management, architecture management, software processes, service delivery, operationsand support, security frameworks, compliance and standards..Jagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
PROMOTING THE AGILE LIFESTYLE CONT’D“..the king, the minister, the country, the fortified city, the treasury, the army, and the ally are theconstituent elements of the state..” - Chanakya, 3 BCWhat do we need to promote such a lifestyle?• advocates championing the cause• self-management and self-organisation• managing dependencies• cross-skilling and training• simplifying team / organisational structure• short iteration cycles• frequent communication and collaboration• enabling adaptability and rapid change, and feedback mechanisms• the right tools, technologies, processes, principles and governance structuresJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
ARE WE DONE YET?“..he should declare, without loss of time, what is in the King’s interest..” - Chanakya, 3 BCWhen defining ‘done’, we should consider:• the lifecycle• the code• unit tests• functional, integration, and acceptance tests• demos and retrospectives• documentationJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
IN DEBT“..a (king) without a treasury should collect a treasury, when difficulties concerning money have arisen..” - Chanakya, 3 BCThe development process generates code and technical debt, the aim is to determine:• the quantity• minimising the quantity and its impact• addressing it at a given pointHow can we minimise it:• use of good design patterns• maintaining high quality coding standards• encouraging peer-reviewing• code refactoring• use of automated acceptance test suitesJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
THE ADVERT BREAK“..just as elephants are needed to catch elephants, so does one need wealth to capture more wealth..” - Chanakya, 3 BCObjective: To enable changes to the online advertising proposition the FT is able to offerLifespan: estimated, end 2013Team size: 7, and 2 staff from OperationsMethodology: Mixture of Scrum and KanbanReporting / Sprint Cycle: 2 weeksWhat is ‘done’: in reviewKanban allows for: removal of waste, visualising the work,managing the entire flow through to the delivery of business valueScrum allows for regular reviews and progress updatesJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
SOME CHALLENGES“..there is no country without people, and no kingdom without a country..” - Chanakya, 3 BCStyle has encouraged the business to think flexibly and to review their priorities - which in the world of Advertisingchange rapidly.• High dependency on third parties, so timescales can often be impacted• Other teams need to implement changes to the site to enable functionality, e.g. Advert sizes, positions, etc. – which means jousting for position in the priority queue• Being geographically diverse, integration of team members can prove difficult especially due to time zones, limitations of collaboration software and logistics (availability of meeting rooms)• Limitations of software (Rally) where it is difficult to identify which initiative a story belongs to in Kanban or Iteration view, and AntHill Pro (primarily due to the amount of FT-specific customisation)Some positives:• Retrospectives (once a month)• Switching from Skype to Google+ proven to be more reliableJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
THIS IS AFRICA - PREMIUM“..never attempt a long journey alone..” - Chanakya, 3 BCObjective: TIA Premium is a database of Information on Africa, aimed at bringing transparency to emerging AfricanMarketsLifespan: estimated, Phase I (6 months)Team size: 16Methodology: Scrum ‘Hybrid’ (dependent on multiple data sources being in place before user stories can be fully defined)Reporting / Sprint Cycle: monthly (reporting), 2 weeks (sprint)What is ‘done’: When positive and negative tests are applied against the epic and user stories. At project level, it refers toa completed a shippable project. Definition of done per sprint includes feasible analysis, code completion, performancetesting and user acceptance (wherever possible)Scrum allows for regular reviews and progress updates, and the ability to estimate changes to stories and delivery timesSome challenges:The remits of Business Analysts and Product Owners often gets blurredWorking with third party developers based in Ukraine proves difficult on occasion – utilisation of collaboration tools helpsRestrictions on network security means workarounds are in place, e.g. for code repositories (Gitblit and GitHub)Jagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
EPILOGUE“..time comes but once to a man waiting for an opportunity; that time is difficult for that man to get againwhen he wants to do his work..” - Chanakya, 3 BCEnabling agility depends on key areas:• communication and collaboration• self-empowering and self-organisation• technology choices• architecture, development, and testing principles• resourcing and training• teams and communities• analytics and metrics• processes, policies, frameworks and standardsJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
THANK YOUJagdeep Singh Bhambra Agile at the Financial Times
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