Recently I attended a passionate meeting which revolved around ICT demands of rapidly expanding agile project teams.
Interesting point was made by a new colleague that agile teams are strained by tools and technology and “we should discuss about our “technical items” laundry list (change management tool, virtual platform, DevOps tools, etc) with product owner to show cost-benefit analysis and push for prioritising on ICT investment for agile projects.
Undoubtedly it was lauded by all scrum masters and tech leads with one voice however as a coach I disagreed with it and I was shouted down with majority voice.
For couple of weeks scrum master consistently discussed their technical laundry list with product owners / business representatives. Most of the Product Owners (PO) didn’t understand about majority of technical stuff but agreed that few agile project guys are doing late nights during release management activities.
PO’s were pressurized by scrum masters for large share of project budget on technology however PO’s with limited ICT knowledge were not sure of technology challenges and focused on their business product features list and reshaped their backlog accordingly resulting in frustration building up with scrum master and development leads and developing wider gap of distrust between IT and Business.
What will you do in such situation?
The above scenario clearly shows how people stretch agile without any rational. With all due respect product owners with their rich business knowledge can contribute in identifying and generating business value (with few exceptions who are experienced in ICT solutions definition). In-house technical experts, vendor and partner subject matter experts and industry experts are best identified resources to define strategic and tactical technology roadmap for organisation with company culture, existing technology strengths and weakness besides supporting existing maintained platforms.
Meanwhile following one of my all-time favorite management guru Peter Drucker “doing right thing” I discussed and coached architect leaders, security leaders, maintenance and support team leaders and head of technology to define strategic IT governance investment roadmap with accountability for next 3, 6, 9 and 12 months tenure.
Technology leaders pushed executives’ decision makers to decide in investing for in-house ICT software development and support services and outsourcing it to vendor partners with pros and cons of both.
Clarification on executive decision to go with hybrid model of 40% in-house and 60% outsourced helped technology leaders to focus on defining technology group strategic vision, roadmap for 3,6,9 months, define light weight processes for operating mechanism and support services and developing limited core competencies in-house versus leveraging on vendor partners.
Business executives were clear about in-house technology competency development as core competency development for ICT governance, managing vendors for delivery and experimenting and validating new hypothesis ideas with technology and using vendors and partners in IT solutions development, support and maintenance activities.
Again they were clear about not to define stone carved roadmap for 5 to 10 years. Using agile approach of inspect and adopt they decided to review roadmap periodically and modify/update it as company changed its strategic and tactical direction depending on responding to market needs and resources availability.
Often mid-size companies initiating with agile journey and agile software delivery approach end up investing huge budgets in ICT as they get carried away in seeing visual delivery (MVP) quickly after few iterations without investing in release, support and maintenance backbone platform development.
Remember every successful MVP comes with ongoing support and maintenance responsibilities.
Finally pragmatically decide your ICT governance strategy for your outcome goal and invest your resources accordingly. Nothing wrong in using vendor partner as core IT solutions, services and support provider with your agile governance model to partner with your vendor in quick MVP development, delivery and maintenance.
Your thoughts on tackling above scenario?