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Showing posts from 2013

Using (Agile) planning poker for risk assessment of IT changes

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Introduction to (Agile) planning pokerIn Agile software development, work (new features, maintenance tasks, etc) is timed boxed into sprints or iterations of a fixed time period, usually somewhere between 1 - 4 weeks. Before each iteration begins, the product manager, iteration manager and the team meets in an iteration planning meeting. This meeting aims to determine what work will be pulled from the team's backlog (prioritized list of work awaiting delivery) and delivered in the upcoming iteration. 

As part of this iteration planning meeting, the team will either revise or initially score each story card (piece of work) with points. Points are whatever the team decides them to be but usually points are used to gauge how big a story card is to complete. Story cards can be sized using Fibonacci (1,2,4,8) or t shirt sizes (S, M, L, XL). The team usually knows how many points they can deliver in an iteration so assessing each story card, assigning them with their respective points an…

What Crossfit has taught me about IT Service Management

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Since the start of 2013 I've been regularly undertaking training in Crossfit.




During this period I've learnt various lessons on topics such as warming-up, stretching, basic weight lifting techniques, nutrition and muscle recovery. There are numerous articles in magazines and the web on the risks of Crossfit, particularly for new or inexperienced participants. From my experience, I enjoyed benefits of sustained weight loss and improved body composition and these have outweighed the two injuries I've sustained in the same period.

Recently, I reflected on my fitness progress and came to the realisation that I had unconsciously applied some of my lessons learnt from Crossfit into my work (Information Technology Service Management (ITSM)). This article covers some of the lessons learnt and to reduce confusion, I'll refer to training in Crossfit and working in ITSM as simply 'working'.

Working without a goal is valueless work.
If you turn up to work without plan, then yo…

Applying Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to IT Service Management and IT Operations

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As an IT Service Management (ITSM) leader with a strong preference to leveraging Agile, Scrum and Lean (including LeanIT) to effectively and efficiently deliver IT operations, I became quite interested in the concept of the Scaled Agile Framework by Dean Leffingwell and his associates. The Scaled Agile Framework® (pronounced SAFe™) is “an interactive knowledge base for implementing agile practices at enterprise scale”.
In the SAFe website, Leffingwell states that “this model of agile adoption has been elaborated primarily in my books Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements for Teams Programs and the Enterprise (2011) and Scaling Software Agility: Best Practices for Large Enterprises, (2007) and my scalingsoftwareagilityblog.com. It has been successfully applied in programs of only 50-100 people, and in enterprises employing thousands of software developers.”
SAFe has four (4) core values: 1. Code Quality (because you can’t scale crappy code); 2. Program Execution (self organising t…

Pets vs Cattle (and ITSM)

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With the advent of cloud computing (regardless whether it is private, public like AWS, Rackspace, etc, or hybrid) a popular meme has arisen to "treat your servers like cattle, not as pets".

This meme suggests that IT organisations should change their views (and therefore behaviors) with servers in the cloud by not treating servers as their favourite pets, but rather act like farmers and view their servers as cattle. There are several blog posts already on this topic by authors like Mark Needham, Greg Ferro, Massino, Simon Sharwood.

The slide below from Gavin McCance from CERN provides a great, single image of the meme. His presentation titled “CERN Data Centre Evolution” detailed the scientific organisation's 12,000-odd servers and plans to manage them more efficiently.

From this slide, you probably now understand the meme:
If pets are sick, we nurse them back to health. If cattle are sick, we destroy them (sounds harsh, but we can spin up new servers and drop sick servers i…

Delivering Problem Management with Kanban

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I previously led an IT Service Management team provided Incident, Problem, Change and Configuration Management services in line withITIL. Our work was highly variable and ranged in complexity since we primarily supported other IT professionals in their IT operations. The whole team used Agile Scrum to manage our work and the problem analysts used Lean Kanban for (ITIL) Problem Management. This blog post will outline how Kanban was applied to effectively deliver our Problem Management service.
Our organisation used Agile as the main delivery method for projects, and Lean (based on the Toyota Production System) for operations. Bell and Ozen (2011, p8) suggest Lean aims to empower teams to simplify, then when appropriate, automate routine tasks. Process improvement frees up capacity, providing individuals with more time and better information to exercise problem solving, creativity and innovation in situations that are not routine.
What is Kanban? Kanban means sign, signboard, billboard, c…

Using Scrum for IT Service Management

My TFT13 experience with Google Hangouts

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On 18 June 2013, I was one of twenty four honoured speakers to present at TFT13, the world's biggest online IT Service Management conference. My topic was Leading IT Service Management using Agile and this was my first presentation at an online conference.



"TFT, Tomorrow’s Future Today, is the world’s first 24-hour, global, follow-the-sun virtual conference. It has a size and level of innovation that has never been seen before. Speakers areselected by their peersand elevated to a global stage overnight. All content is accessible,without registration, pushed to Kindle and Evernote, available on iTunes, Vimeo, YouTube, BrightTALK and SoundCloud."

Shortly after the conference had finished, #tft13 had generated 7.6 million social media impressions.

I was humbled to be selected for this event, and I enjoyed the opportunity to work with other IT Service Management thought leaders and to learn Google Hangouts. Using my Google+ account, I found information and assistance easily ava…

Full steam ahead but who is steering the ship?

One of the key roles for an agile team is the Scrum Master (or otherwise known as the Iteration Manager). Hartman (2009) summaries the Scrum Master's responsibilities as: "The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the Team adheres to Scrum values, practices, and rules. The Scrum Master helps the Scrum Team and the organization adopt Scrum. The Scrum Master teaches the Team by coaching and by leading it to be more productive and produce higher quality products. The Scrum Master helps the Team understand and use self-management and cross-functionality. However, the Scrum Master does not manage the team; the team is self-managing."
But who should be a Scrum Master, when the team may already have a team leader or manager? I'll briefly explore the opportunities and challenges of two main approaches.
Team leader as scrum master: Opportunity: As Hartman stated above, the team should be self managing but when disputes arise, the team leader has the authority to give dire…