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Governing Agile Delivery

Governing Agile Delivery

Agile development starts with small teams tackling small problems. After some initial successes the organisation gets more ambitious, and tries to get more teams tackling bigger problems. At some point these endeavours run headlong into finance and governance structures from a different era, designed with huge projects in mind, and it usually doesn’t end well. In this talk Dan explains where our existing governance and funding models came from, why they aren’t a good fit for agile delivery methods, and what we can do about it. There will be maths.

Daniel Terhorst-North

September 28, 2017
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  1. Governing Agile Delivery
    Dan North
    @tastapod

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  2. What do we need governance for?
    1. To understand what we are spending our money on.
    2. To understand how we are doing.
    Governance is about managing risk.
    @tastapod

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  3. How does delivery usually work?
    Initiation
    •Definition and Scoping
    •Tendering and
    Procurement
    •Budget approval
    Planning
    •Work breakdown
    •Resourcing
    •Scheduling
    Execution
    •Analysis
    •Design
    •Development
    •Testing
    Release
    •Deployment
    •User acceptance
    •Transition to Live
    @tastapod

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  4. How do we govern this?
    Initiation
    •Proposition review
    •ITT
    •Contracts
    •Budget review
    •Payment schedules
    Planning
    •Project review board
    •PMO sign-off
    •Financial controls
    •Review schedule
    Execution
    •Steering group(s)
    •Stage gate reviews
    •Documentation
    •Sign-offs
    •Hand-overs
    Release
    •Change Advisory Board
    •Release documentation
    •Implementation plan
    •Go/No-go
    •User sign-off
    @tastapod

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  5. Why do we do it like this?
    Each stage gate is supposed to give us assurance
    - because there is usually a lot at stake!
    We make big investments
    - or as some may say, big bets.
    We plan and budget on an annual basis
    We often make multi-year commitments
    @tastapod

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  6. Multi-year commitments are risky!
    We fear things going wrong:
    - Cost overruns
    - Schedule overruns
    - Delivering the wrong thing
    - Operational instability
    - Supplier instability
    We believe we can front-load the risk.
    We just need to plan in enough detail. What could possibly go wrong?
    @tastapod

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  7. Governance models are designed “top down”
    Portfolio
    • Steering group
    • Exec committee
    Programmes
    • PMO
    • Programme board
    Projects
    • Project manager
    • Programme board
    @tastapod

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  8. Agile methods are “bottom up”
    Team-scale: 7 ± 2 people™
    Interdisciplinary, or
    cross-functional
    Working in small time boxes
    Releasing software frequently
    Collaborating closely with the user
    Planning in small time boxes,
    based on feedback
    Funding is usually incremental
    Agile is about teams delivering small slices and acting on feedback
    @tastapod

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  9. Agile methods are “bottom up”
    CEO
    ?
    Team Team Team Team Team Team Team Team ...
    @tastapod

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  10. Agile* Adoption* Patterns* – Richard Durnall
    * Not agile, not adoption, not patterns, but still…
    1. The people break
    2. The tools break
    3. The governance breaks
    4. The customer breaks
    5. The money breaks
    6. The organisation breaks
    @tastapod

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  11. Agile doesn’t have an opinion about
    large programmes
    Agile methods emerged to address delivery in the small.
    Delivery at scale is a substantively different problem.
    80 ≠ 8 x 10
    Multiple agile teams can collaborate on the same programme of work.
    - Needs strong technical direction
    - Needs strong product management
    - Needs strong (Lean) programme management
    Guiding principles: “Freedom within a framework”
    @tastapod

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  12. Governance is about managing investment risk
    @tastapod

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  13. Return on Investment is a blunt instrument
    It says nothing about when the return occurs, or how much is at risk.
    Risk-Adjusted Return on Capital (RARoC) is more useful.
    Agile delivery has (initially) worse RoI, but much better RARoC.
    @tastapod

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  14. Risk profile of traditional delivery
    @tastapod
    £
    Value at Risk
    (VAR)
    Uncertainty
    Release

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  15. Risk profile of agile delivery
    @tastapod
    VAR
    Frequent
    Small
    Releases
    Self-funding!
    £

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  16. Governing agile delivery
    We need to rethink our underlying assumptions:
    - Flow of value is more important than utilisation of workers.
    - Busyness is not an indicator of progress, results are.
    - Feedback is vital to reducing uncertainty.
    Lead time is the only game in town!
    @tastapod

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  17. How can we reduce lead time?
    1. Reduce batch size
    - which reduces variability to boot!
    2. Keep work within the team
    - including inspections and reviews
    - including specialist knowledge and skills
    3. Identify information you need to govern, then
    - Eliminate, Simplify, Automate
    - until your process becomes self-evidencing
    @tastapod
    FedRAMP by 18F

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  18. Wrapping up
    Governance is about managing risk.
    Iterative delivery methods reduce risk and uncertainty
    But your governance needs to change to benefit from this.
    All software development carries uncertainty.
    You can’t eliminate uncertainty, but you can surface it early.
    @tastapod

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  19. Thank you
    [email protected]
    https://dannorth.net
    https://twitter.com/tastapod
    @tastapod

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