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Disciplined Agile

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This blog contains details about various aspects of PMI's Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, including new and upcoming topics.

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Scott Ambler
Glen Little
Mark Lines
Daniel Gagnon
Valentin Mocanu
Joshua Barnes
Michael Richardson
Klaus Boedker
Kashmir Birk
Mike Griffiths

Recent Posts

Disciplined Agile: An Executive's Starting Point

Using Lean Agile Procurement (LAP) in complex procurement situations

Vendor Management in the Disciplined Agile Enterprise

Asset Management: What Types of Assets Might You Manage?

PMI and Disciplined Agile at Agile20Reflect

Disciplined Agile: An Executive's Starting Point

Start

We used to say that software is eating the world, but the fact is today software is the world. Gone are the days where IT could be treated like a utility, one that more often than not was outsourced in the belief that you needed to focus on your core competencies and IT didn’t make it onto that list. These days being competent at IT is mere table stakes at best, you need to excel at IT if you hope to become an industry leader. Today business executives must focus on disruptors, new competitors entering their market space using technologies in new ways. Becoming an agile business – an adaptive, responsive, and learning organization – is the true goal. Business agility requires true agility across all of your organization, not just software development, not just DevOps, and not just IT. There isn’t a single industry now that either isn’t dominated by agile businesses or isn’t under threat of disruption by new agile competitors.   

The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit was created to apply agile in complex enterprise agile implementations. DA has been well received and implemented in organizations around the world. According to Gartner, Disciplined Agile is also the only available agile process explicitly allowing enterprises to customise agile for their unique enterprise challenges at both the organization and project levels.  In their research report, Adopt Disciplined Agile Delivery for a Comprehensive and Scalable Agile IT Approach, Gartner reported: 

Success with agile development is important, but comes in different forms across enterprises. Technical professionals responsible for application development can use Disciplined Agile Delivery to tune agile processes and practices, including SAFe, to their specific needs."

In this article, we address several common questions executives have about Disciplined Agile (DA):

  1. What is DA?
  2. Why should I consider DA?
  3. Where is DA being used?
  4. Are there any DA success stories?
  5. How can we get started?

 

What is Disciplined Agile (DA)?

The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit provides straightforward guidance to help organizations streamline their processes in a context-sensitive manner, providing a solid foundation for business agility. The figure below provides a high-level overview of the scope of DA (click on the diagram to zoom in).

The scope of Disciplined Agile

DA provides a foundation for business agility does this by showing how the various activities such as Finance, Portfolio Management, Solution Delivery (software development), IT Operations, Enterprise Architecture, Vendor Management and many others work together. DA also describes what these activities should address, provides a range of options for doing so, and describes the trade-offs associated with each option.

DA also provides a straightforward strategy for implementing value streams, overviewed in the following diagram (click on it to zoom in).

Value stream workflow

You can read more about DA in Introduction to Disciplined Agile.

 

Why should I consider Disciplined Agile (DA)?

There are several reasons why your organization should adopt the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit:

  1. DA enables you to become a learning organization. Rather than helping you to adopt the “best practices” of a specific agile framework, the DA tool kit instead gives your team the tools they need to learn and to improve their ways of working (WoW). 
  2. DA enables you to increase your rate of process improvement. The DA tool kit provides straightforward guidance for identifying potential improvements that are likely to work in the context that you face, enabling your teams to reduce the number of failed experiments and thereby increase their rate of improvement.
  3. DA supports the entire range of complexities faced by your teams, not just team size. Every person, every team, and every organization is unique. The implication is that you need a tool kit that provides you with choices so that you can tailor, and later evolve, an approach to address the situation that you face in practice. 
  4. DA is agnostic and hybrid. DA adopts pragmatic techniques from a wide range of sources – agile sources, lean sources, and even traditional sources – and does the work of putting them into context so that you don’t have to. 
  5. Support all types of teams, not just software teams. As you saw earlier, there are over twenty process blades/areas within the DA tool kit. Only one of them, Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), is focused on software development teams.  
  6. Consistent governance across disparate teams. Luckily, it’s not only possible but highly desirable to have a light-weight, lean governance strategy in place. In fact, the DA tool kit builds lean governance strategies into most process blades and has an overarching, enterprise-level process blade called Governance. 
  7. DA is the foundation for business agility. We’ve been talking about teams a lot, but it’s not just about teams. It’s really about how your organization can become more competitive, how it can regularly delight your customers, and how it can continue to evolve and improve over time. It’s really about business agility, and the DA tool kit shows how it all fits together.

You can read more about why you should consider DA at Why Disciplined Agile?

 

Where is Disciplined Agile (DA) being used?

DA is being used in numerous organizations, in a wide range of industries, around the world.  You can see a list of a subset of the organizations using Disciplined Agile.

 

Are there any Disciplined Agile (DA) success stories?

Yes. We have published several Disciplined Agile success stories with more on the way.

 

How can we get started with Disciplined Agile (DA)?

The answer to this question depends on what you're trying to achieve:

 

Getting personally started with Disciplined Agile

There are several ways that you can learn more about DA, and we recommend following the one(s) that seem best for you:

  1. Online reading. If you want to start with some online reading, then our Start Here article is a great option.
  2. Online eLearning. If you prefer eLearning options, our Basics of DA online course is a nice overview to get you going.
  3. Read a book. If you're looking for a quick read, the Introduction to Disciplined Agile Delivery 2nd Edition is it.  If you'd like a more in-depth understanding of the tool kit, then Choose Your WoW! is recommend (and it's free to PMI members). 
  4. Take some training. We have a variety of instructor led training (ILT) as well as online learning options to choose from, which are important parts of an agile certification journey.

 

Getting a team started with Disciplined Agile

There are also several options for getting a team going with Disciplined Agile, we recommend considering all three:

  1. Get a few individuals started with DA.  The easiest strategy would be to point them to the options for individuals above. Your goal is to have several people be sufficiently informed about DA so that you can determine if it's right for you.
  2. Get some training. PMI's agile certification journey includes training options for all team members at all levels of agile expertise. 
  3. Hire one or more Disciplined Agile Coach (DAC) or Disciplined Agile Value Stream Consultant (DAVSC). DACs can help you learn how to apply the DA tool kit with teams and across teams to improve their effectiveness.  DAVSCs help you to streamline your value streams so as to enable you to effectively delight your customers.  You can search for people who have earned their DAC accreditation here.

 

Getting your organization started with Disciplined Agile

Our fundamental advice is to start where you are, do the best that you can given the situation that you face, and always strive to get better.  To succeed, there are three key concepts to understand:

  1. Context counts. Your strategy to get started will vary based on your context - an organization that is new to agile will take a different path than one that has already (mis)adopted an agile framework.  An organization that has successfully adopted agile within their IT department and is now focusing on other parts of their organization will need a different strategy than one that is focusing on the entire organization at once.  As you can see in the following diagram, there are multiple paths that you can take to become a learning organization.
  2. The goal is to become a learning organization. Many organizations hope that adopting an agile framework such as Scrum or SAFe is what they need to do. That may be a good start, but it isn't your real end goal, instead you want to become a learning organization that is capable of evolving and improving beyond the confines of an agile framework/method. When you successfully adopt a framework, you typically find that the framework doesn't address all of the situations that you face. Nor do frameworks offer more than platitudes about how to evolve your WoW beyond what they prescribe, The aim of the DA tool kit is to teach you how to improve effectively, not prescribe one set of "best practices."
  3. There is no quick, easy fix. Improvement is a life-long journey, not a short-term project. To become a learning organization you must adopt a mindset and some tools that enable your people to experiment, learn, and improve.

Although every organization's journey is unique, we have found that at a high-level they all follow a similar 3-step transformation path:

Disciplined Agile Transformation

 

  1. Align. Fundamentally, you always start where you are. Because every organization is different, you must assess your situation, identify your challenges that you need to overcome, and then select an appropriate improvement path and strategy to journey on that path.
  2. Improve. Follow an improvement strategy that is fit-for-purpose, tailored to address the challenges that your organization faces.  This strategy will evolve over time as challenges are overcome and new challenges appear. The DA strategy is to improve in place, addressing your immediate needs while teaching you the skills and providing the tools to help you evolve into a true learning organization.
  3. Thrive. You will thrive when you've become a learning organization, one that is able to learn from and evolve with their changing environment. One that is focused on improving their way of working (WoW) so that they delight their customers.
Posted by Scott Ambler on: March 26, 2021 05:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Using Lean Agile Procurement (LAP) in complex procurement situations

In the Vendor management in the Disciplined Agile enterprise blog post, we overviewed a Disciplined Agile (DA) approach to vendor management, including procurement. In this post, we look closer at how to use lean and agile techniques to procure goods and services in complex situations.

Context counts, also in procurement

One of the DA principles is that context counts. This principle is also applicable to the area of vendor management. Table 1 overviews three common types of procurement situations.

Table 1. Common procurement situations

Figure 1 depicts the goal diagram for Vendor management (click here to view a larger version of the diagram) and table 2 maps the situations summarized in table 1 to the choices and strategies from the goal diagram. How we work matters and it has a dramatic impact on the result of our work. Matching our way of working to the context we face is the cornerstone of success at work.

Figure 1. The vendor management goal diagram

Table 2. Mapping common procurement situations to potential procurement strategies

When it comes to developing a complex product or service, we have learned that working in an agile and lean way brings better results faster, more reliably, and with higher quality. The agile and lean way of working (WoW) takes an incremental approach with short feedback loops. The short loops act as learning points where we can adjust to new information and changes that inherently are a part of doing complex work. 

It turns out that the same is true for procuring goods and services. When we set out to procure complex goods or services, or are faced with a complex situation, applying agile and lean techniques is more successful than using traditional procurement approaches. 

How do you apply agile and lean practices to procurement?

Generically speaking, procurement follows the flow of: Initialize, Analyze & prepare, Select & sign, and Execute & beyond as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2. Generic procurement flow

Lean Agile Procurement (LAP) follows the same flow and takes advantage of agile and lean practices along the way to deliver more successful results in a complex procurement situation. Table 3 summarizes some of the agile and lean techniques that LAP applies in procurement.

Table 3. Lean Agile Procurement Flow Steps

In summary, context counts and the DA tool kit for vendor management guide you in tailoring your WoW (way of working) to better match your situation increasing your chances of success. When faced with a complex procurement situation, Lean Agile Procurement (LAP) is a more successful approach. 

Authors: Klaus Boedker and Mirko Kleiner

Posted by Klaus Boedker on: March 18, 2021 03:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Vendor Management in the Disciplined Agile Enterprise

The overarching goal of the Disciplined Agile (DA) is to guide organizations on their path to business agility, sometimes called organizational agility. When organizations increase their overall agility, they are able to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways. This enables organizations to deliver more value in a shorter amount of time, predictably, sustainably, and with high quality.

Looking at the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit in figure 1, we get an idea of the organizational areas that are involved in pursuing business agility.

Figure 1: The Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit

The DA tool kit shows us that it is not enough to focus on delivery-level agility represented by the Disciplined DevOps layer. To achieve business agility, the organization must pursue agile and lean ways of working at the Disciplined Agile Enterprise layer; like legal, finance, and vendor management.

In this post, we focus on the role of vendor management and how it can contribute to the overall agility in the DA enterprise.

The mindset of vendor management: partnerships are key

Vendor management is a process blade in the DA tool kit. In other words, it represents a functional area inside the organization that serves a specific purpose. The purpose of vendor management is to help obtain products and services from other organizations. 

To do that successfully in a disciplined agile way, vendor management follows a set of philosophies that extend the DA mindset:

Figure 2: A Disciplined Agile mindset for vendor management

1. Value through partnerships. We increase value through partnerships with other organizations. 

2. Collaborative partnerships. We seek to build collaborative partnerships with other organizations, even when those organizations are our competitors or competitors to each other.

3. Mutually beneficial partnerships. We seek to build, maintain, and evolve mutually beneficial relationships with our suppliers and partners.

4. We co-create with our partners. We co-create throughout the entire vendor management life cycle, including procurement. This means that we may even have both our own experts and vendor experts actively involved in the procurement process. 

5. We are trusted advisors. We are a trusted advisor inside the organization to present and guide both supplier and partnering options.

6. Organizational outcomes come first. We pursue organizational outcomes over local process conveniences, working in an enterprise aware manner.

7. We protect our organization. We have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the organization.

8. We address risk holistically. We address risk in an appropriate, proactive, and holistic manner. 

The flow of Vendor management: context counts

One of the DA principles is that "context counts". This principle is also applicable to the area of vendor management. Table 1 lists three different types of procurement situations.

Table 1: Different procurement situations

Each of the situations requires a different flow or approach to successfully find the right partners that can deliver the good or service to the organization. 

The practices of vendor management: choice is good

Another DA principle states that “choice is good”. In vendor management, we see this manifested in its goal diagram. Click here to see a larger version of the goal diagram.

Figure 3: Vendor management goal diagram

The diagram covers the key decision points of vendor management: from how to manage intake requests, and how to select a procurement strategy, to ways of governing partnerships. Most of the decision points’ options are non-ordered, meaning they are equally preferrable. It is worth noting the two areas that have ordered options: select procurement strategy, and capture working agreements. The ordered options are called out with an upwards arrow, meaning the choices at the top are more desirable than the choices at the bottom from an agility standpoint.

With the goal diagram, you have access to a suite of options, choices and strategies that are presented in architected way for easy access and navigation. The suite of options, choices and strategies allows you first of all to find your baseline today: what is our existing way of working (WoW) in procurement? Secondly, the suite of options, choices and strategies allows you to find areas where you can improve and tailor your way of procuring to better match the given context. 

Let’s look at an example. One of the vendor management decision points is to select potential partners.

Figure 4: Decision point for "select potential partners"

The decision point offers a suite of options, ranging from short-listing potential partners, comparing submitted proposals, and holding a big-room event for multiple vendors.

 In our example, you are part of the company’s procurement team. Up until this point, your team has solely been relying on the option of “compare submitted proposals” to select vendors regardless of what you are procuring. That is your baseline way of working (WoW). If your team procures goods or services that less straightforward than, say printer paper and toner, you have likely come across some challenges in finding the right vendor. Taking advantage of the information in the vendor management goal diagram, you can now pick a more tailored WoW depending on your procurement context. 

For example, procuring a commodity (new paper and toner for the office printers), a straightforward comparison of submitted proposals will likely be sufficient. In fact, you may even go so far as to automate the buying decision completely, such as with printers placing an order for toner when it runs low. But faced with a more complicated context, such as procuring a new fleet of delivery trucks, you have the option to employ additional strategies to increase your chances of success. These strategies could be: shortlisting potential partners, interviewing potential partners, and then comparing submitted proposals. You may even hold a vendor bake off where the shortlisted vendors demonstrate their vehicles.

In summary, context counts. The DA tool kit guides you in tailoring your WoW for vendor management to better match your context increasing your chances of success. 

Posted by Klaus Boedker on: March 15, 2021 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Asset Management: What Types of Assets Might You Manage?

Categories: Asset Management

Library shelving

When we think about assets we often think "financial assets" such as money, stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. But of course there are many more types of assets than just financial ones, particularly when we consider it from the point of view of our organization. 

We are currently in the process of evolve Disciplined Agile (DA)'s Reuse Engineering process blade, which had a very clear software focus to it, into a more robust Asset Management blade.  Part of that effort is to rework the reuse categories, which we had originally adopted from the Enterprise Unified Process (EUP), depicted in Figure 1 into the asset categories of Figure 2.  

Figure 1. Categories of reuse.

Disciplined Agile Reuse Types

Figure 2. Categories of assets.

Asset types - Disciplined Agile

As you can see, we've made several interesting changes:

  1. We've gone far beyond software. There are many different types of assets that can be made available for reuse, not just software.  To be fair, as you can see in Figure 1 we did in fact go beyond software reuse but the focus was still on IT/software-oriented assets.
  2. Introduced the concept of tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets are things that you can touch, things that are made from atoms.  Intangible assets are concept, made from bits or in some cases stored in neurons.  Asset management needs to address both of these asset classes.
  3. Reduced the number of categories. We went from seven to five categories so as to simplify the overall approach.
  4. Adopted flexible categorizations. We realized that the definition of the categories, in some cases, would vary given your context.  For example, we've indicated that a vehicle might be both a component and a large-scale component. If you're a car rental agency then a vehicle is a  component of your overall fleet.  If you build cars then a vehicle is a large-scale component built from smaller components.

We'd love to hear your feedback, particularly if you have ideas to improve Figure 2.  Looking forward to reading your comments below.

Posted by Scott Ambler on: February 02, 2021 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

PMI and Disciplined Agile at Agile20Reflect

Categories: Agile20Reflect

Agile20Reflect

This month, February 2021, marks the 20th Anniversary of the meeting from which the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, or more colloquially the Agile Manifesto, emerged.  To celebrate this, the Agile20Reflect Festival is being held and PMI Chapters around the world are involved.  

Here's what PMI chapters and individual members are doing:

When

Chapter/Member

Event

January 31 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm GMT

I'm part of the opening ceremony

The Official Agile20Reflect Opening Party

February 2 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST

PMIWDC Fair Lakes

Agile Transformation – People & Culture over everything else

February 3 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EST

PMI Montreal

Accompagner au bon niveau (Communauté de pratique Disciplined Agile)

February 4 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST

PMI Montreal

Progression de carrière en GP – Les certifications Agile et la valeur de la certification DASM

February 4 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm EAT

PMI Kenya

Disciplined Agile- Choose your Wow

February 8 @ 6:00 am - 7:30 am WAT

I'm a panel member

Disciplined Agile; the Evolution of PMI

February 12 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm GMT

PMI's Mark Lines is a panel member

An Agile Manifesto Futurespective

February 12 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm CET

PMI's Mark Lines and myself are in Q&A about DA and business agility

Disciplined Agile Apertif

February 13 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm SAST  

PMI Zambia

Disciplined Agile – Agile Approach to Project Management

February 13 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm PKT 

PMP holder, Ручанова Надежда, is presenter

Design Thinking step by step

February 15 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST 

PMI Montreal

L’agilité et son influence des 20 dernières années depuis le Manifeste Agile, où en serons-nous dans 20 ans?​

February 16 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm SMT 

PMI Singapore

“You Had Me At Agile” – An Open Space Event for the Agile20Festival

February 18 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm EST

PMI North Carolina

Disciplined Agile- Agile 20 Celebration North Carolina PMI February Chapter Meeting

February 18 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm CST

PMI Nuevo Leon

Agilidad Empresarial al Estilo WoW​

February 18 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST 

PMI Lakeshore, Ontario and PMI Toronto

What is Disciplined Agile and how is PMI bringing this exciting new offering to its PMI Chapter members?

February 20 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm CMT 

 

 

Ayudando al crecimiento del equipo con Disciplined Agile​

February 22 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST PMI Toronto

Using Disciplined Agile to fill potholes along the highway to Greater Agility

February 22 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EST PMI Montreal

Accélérer le time-to-value avec DA​

February 24 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm PST PMI Silicon Valley

Lead an Innovative Organization

February 24 @ 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm EST PMI Baltimore

Flash Forward To The Future Using Disciplined Agile

February 25 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm -03 PMI-ACP holder, Cezar Meriguetti, is presenting

Gestão de Portfólio de Projetos multi abordagens

February 25 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm CET PMI Netherlands

Creating Psychological Safety with Disciplined Agile: a Google Case Study

February 25 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm GMT 

PMI certification holders, Dr. Gail Ferreira and Dr. Stefanie Puckett

New Ways of Working the Human Component

February 26 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm CST 

PMI Authorize Training Partner, Ditrats

Disciplined agile y arquitectura empresarial ágil una combinación única​

 

I've likely missed a couple of events so please add a comment and I'll update as soon as I can.  I hope you're able to attend some of these great sessions.

Also, I checked with the organizers and they've agreed to keep the ability to add an event to Agile20Reflect open until February 28th, so it's not too late!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Scott Ambler on: January 30, 2021 07:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
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