Converting a successful, ongoing project with 2M lines of code to agile presents unique challenges that are not covered in most books and courses on agile; this talk describes successful strategies used on the FBI CODIS project. This is an up-to-the-minute account of our (continuing) experiences instituting agile practices, paying down technical debt, and addressing the concerns of skeptical governance and oversight groups.
We have heard the reports of unsuccessful programs "rebooted" and rescued through the use of agile software development models. And there is a wealth of information available on how to institute agile practices such as test automation and refactoring into Greenfield projects. But what about a highly successful, longstanding, waterfall-based government program with over 2 million lines of code and 15 years of history? How do you institute DevOps practices on a project that uses 100% Microsoft platforms? How do you write automate tests and refactor mercilessly on a project where the majority of the business logic is written in SQL? How do you deliver valuable software when the oversight framework requires you to maintain over 50 separate documents? How can we institute Scrum while simultaneously undergoing CMMI level 3 certification?
  This experience report describes specific practices that we adopted during our two year (and counting) experience transforming the FBI CODIS project to Agile. Many topics will be discussed including sprint length, technical/testing sprints, technical user stories, story point budgeting, paying down technical debt, instituting agile practices such as pair programming, responding to unexpected events, and others. Each practice will be analyzed in terms of the cost versus benefits and when and how it may be most beneficial. This talk attempts to provide context and insight into when and how specific approaches might provide the most benefit for legacy modernization projects or projects answering to skeptical oversight groups.

 
 

Outline/Structure of the Talk

Outline/Structure of your session:

  1. What is CODIS?
  2. How did the project evolve over time?
  3. What are the biggest differences between the previous waterfall lifecycle and the new Scrum lifecycle?
  4. Discuss ramifications of key up-front decisions
    1. Staffing an automation team
    2. Quantifying everything we do: technical user stories
    3. Technical / testing sprints.  Why have them?
    4. When do we start sprint 1?  What is sprint “zero,” anyway ?
  5. Challenges we faced and how we met them
    1. Poor automated testing coverage, implications for manual testing
    2. Working in a time box, within a fixed price contract—what if we don’t finish all our “must do” items?
  6. Benefits we observed
    1. Ability to adjust to unforeseen circumstances: 4 months of extra unplanned effort!
    2. Customer can reset priorities
  7. Transition: Base year to option year one
  8. New Challenges in year two
    1. Meeting definition of done
    2. Maintaining technical documentation
    3. What about DevOps?
    4. Jump-starting automated testing within a legacy environment
    5. Producing an RTM: Can we create an “Agile RTM”?  How do we maintain traceability in an agile context?
  9. Looking ahead to year three: next steps
  10. Lessons learned

Learning Outcome

Sharing Lessons Learned:

  1. Agile benefits can be realized even on successful waterfall projects
  2. Understand that there is no silver bullet when it comes to Migrating legacy projects to Agile.
  3. Legacy projects need a planned, incremental adoption of agile practices
  4. Get an expert tool smith
  5. Start scrum even without everything in place
  6. Feel free to experiment, but some scrum practices are better done by the book
  7. Adopt a systems thinking approach to addressing technical debt

Specific topics will be discussed including BDD, DevOps, lightweight documentation and Continuous Delivery

Target Audience

Federal managers, project managers, contract officers, vendor managers, technical leaders, QA practitioners, software engineers

schedule Submitted 5 years ago

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