Planning For and Delivering Quality in Large Scale Enterprise Agile Development

Success in large enterprise software development depends on delivering capability and Qualities as much as functionality. In larger programs, given that Agile makes it easy to develop functionality quickly, building Qualities like performance and resilience in enterprise Agile needs deliberate and focused effort and planning. 

Traditionally, Agile development tended to be smaller, contained (geographically as well as in size), allowing for Quality to be in built and monitored every iteration in the delivery of Agile projects. As Agile goes mainstream and more enterprise programs and IT development is Agile, more attention needs to be paid to the –ilities that will determine success or failure in the Enterprise. 

Based on experiences from a geographically distributed, multi-year, multi-vendor 30+ million USD Agile product development that the author program manages, this session highlights the vulnerable areas that impact Agile Quality in large enterprise programs:

-          'We'll figure it out as we go along' Architecture;

-          Evolution in corporate security and IT governance guidelines;

-          The Agency problem between the needs of the business and the representatives of the business;

-          The temptation to build functionality quickly to demonstrate progress.

For each area of vulnerability, the session will provide guidance and ways and means to manage the risk of lowered Quality.

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Outline/structure of the Session

This session presents lessons from a large outsourced product development program, with 200 people at its peak in over a dozen scrum teams working in a multi location multi vendor structure. The product size was > 10000 MkII Function Points, and was delivered over 2 years.

The session is divided into 3 parts, each covered in around a third of the 45 minutes availble for the session.

The first part covers the impact of the various factors that are described in the abstract that impact Quality, along with real life examples.

The second part covers mitigation strategies that can be used, along with examples where they were used successfully. These include:

-          Using a highly skilled Planning team to oversee Scrum development and ensure that each Scrum team develops to the required standard of Quality.

-          Scrum teams (while they continue to be autonomous) need to adhere to development and technical guidelines in every iteration, else they do not release.

-          Planning team permits or withholds components from development depending discussions and approvals from enterprise standards and security groups.

-          Using Tiger teams outside the regular scrum teams to develop Proof Of Concepts (POCs) to demonstrate the scalability of key components and technologies.

The third part covers the management oversight and intervention needed in order to ensure success.

- Once a component is developed incorrectly, it is impossible to avoid expensive rework, scrappage and accusations of waste; we will share the challenges faced in this area.

- Managing Agents for the Business: A laser like focus needs to maintained on the priorities for the business; while business is primarily interested in the Qualities like performance that will sell the product, it is very easy to have the business representatives distract development with polishing what has been development rather than move the product forward. Managing this needs an alignment with business priorities, and change control even with the nominal product owners.

- Managing integration and taking an overall product view to take the program to completion.


Learning Outcome

Enterprise Agile looks different from traditional or pure Agile in several ways, and planning and building in Quality is one of these. Session attendees will be able to understand our experience of planning and architecture needs as well as the management discipline needed to ensure a Quality deliverable. The session will be useful to understand the pressures that can compromise Quality in enterprise Agile as well as potential solutions to ensure the Qualities needed by the business are delivered.


Target Audience

We expect the session to be relevant and useful to anyone involved in scaling Agile for enterprise IT development.

schedule Submitted 5 years ago

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  • Naveen Indusekhar
    By Naveen Indusekhar  ~  5 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Avinash,

    While the topic is interesting and complex, will you be able to pick top 3-4 areas where your presentation can make an impact? The discussion can otherwise go into an orbit with no significant throughput from the 45 min spent.



    • Avinash Rao
      By Avinash Rao  ~  5 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Naveen,

      I plan to keep the presentation focused on the enterprise environment, and the areas of impact will be:

      - Need for Planning teams to manage transaction costs in an enterprise environment.

      - Using Tiger teams outside the planned Scrum teams to develop prove key technology and design components.

      - Managing agents and keeping the focus on succeeding for the Business.

  • Vijayanand Nagaraj
    By Vijayanand Nagaraj  ~  5 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hello Avinash Rao,
    Your topic is an important one for many organizations. However, before getting into the topic I see that an Introduction is missing in the Process section. Introduction about the organization, how big was the implementation or how many agile teams were involved etc etc.
    Also you start your abstract with a statement "Large Agile projects have a Quality problem, and the problem is only getter bigger" -my question is - Does this mean that there are limitations in agile methodologies, hence the Quality problem or is it due to a problem of bad implementation?

    • Avinash Rao
      By Avinash Rao  ~  5 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hello Vijayanand, I've added an introduction to the product and team sizes.

      The other point you make is well made - I've reworked the opening to focus on the specific issues of size and the Enterprise environment. My essential argument is that (even more than traditional software development) it is very easy to build code incrementally in the name of Agile without the Qualities needed for success (and retrofitting Quality is very expensive!).

  • Ellen Grove
    By Ellen Grove  ~  5 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Avinash

    Your proposal touches on many areas that will be of interest to orgs looking to scale Agile within the enterprise.  Can you tell me a little bit more about what you intend to address on the subject of Agency (that really piqued my interest in the abstract, but I didn't catch where you intend to address it in the outline).

    Also, would you be able to provide links to video or slides of ether this presentation or of previous presentations you've done? 



    • Avinash Rao
      By Avinash Rao  ~  5 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hello Ellen, I have updated the outline with more details on managing the Agency problem. I propose to address this in the third part of my session, about the management oversight needed for success.

      I've also provided a link to slides I used for my talk recently at the 2013 Regional Scrum Gathering at Pune.

      thanks! Avinash

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