1. I would like to understand Agile methods, where can I go and what should I read?
I recommend reading the first 165 pages of Manager’s guide to Agile and Iterative development. This book provides an understanding of the various flavors of Agile, but also an understanding of why these methods are more effective at delivering projects.
A classic overview on Agile is Martin Fowler’s The New Methodology. Fowler is an expert on software development practices and patterns.
The most popular Agile method is Scrum, it is a project management framework that can be used in both IT and non-IT projects. I recommend taking an Agile Project Management course or the Certified Scrum Master course, it will provide an understanding of how to implement Scrum on a project, and the differences between Agile and waterfall methods. Our web site Scrum Training lists public classes we are offering across the country.
2. I understand that Agile is a very different way of working from our current waterfall environment. What are the training options for my company?
Training is key to success with Agile and Lean work styles. We recommend to all our clients a training plan that includes training for all levels in the organization.
- Team members: Introduction to Lean and Agile training (1-2 days) for new teams or team members who will be working on an Agile project.
- PMs and Team Leads: Agile Project Management or Certified Scrum Master training for Agile project leaders and key stakeholders
- Customers, Sponsors: Product Owner Training for customers, sponsors and key business stakeholders
- Directors, Functional managers and Program managers who will manage multiple Agile projects: Lean and Agile Management training.
For staff in process definition roles we also recommend:
- Process engineers and managers building Lean processes: Introduction to Lean training.
- Process engineers and managers leading process improvement projects: Lean Belt Certification
This is baseline training. In addition some excellent training courses that drive improvement in productivity are:
- The Secrets of Agile teamwork
- Agile User Stories, Estimation, and Planning
- Kaizen and KaiKaKu – Lean event facilitation
Innovel can provide all of these training services through our senior training/consulting staff and relationships with experts in the field.
3. How should Agile methods could be prescribed for new projects in my organization that want to go Agile? What projects should we start with?
There is no quick answer for this topic, it is best served by a management consulting engagement where we can work through the unique issues in your corporate environment and develop a strategy that best works for your business. Innovel’s staff have helped a Fortune 200 financial services company transition over 50% of a $1 Billion IT portfolio to Lean and Agile. This includes very complex projects with multiple teams on shore and off shore, to defect and enhancement projects that with 1 team serviced customer changes on multiple systems. Other considerations include how can we maintain regulatory compliance? What about Sarbanes-Oxley and Agile?
4. How about Lean and Six Sigma? How do they fit?
Lean, Six Sigma, and Agile are related. Agile is project centric principles and practices, Lean and Six Sigma are process and organization centric. We recommend adopting Lean at the same time as Agile to avoid local optimization at just the project level and improve organizational effectiveness. We do not recommend Six Sigma in the early stages because it is designed for repeatable manufacturing-like processes as opposed to dynamic product development systems. Six sigma can be used after Lean tools have been applied to production and operational processes.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions or require any additional information on Lean and Agile. We passionately believe in these methods and would be excited to help you and your colleagues discover Lean and Agile.