Detecting Agile BS in the Department of Defense (And What to Do About It)
I am currently the Scrum Master at the Software Engineering Center (SEC) of the U.S. Army. Since 2013, I have helped the Army Research Lab (ARL) and the SEC implement Agile/Scrum at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). This session will give participants a window into real world Agile contracting in the Department of Defense (DoD) using language from the current Request for Proposal (RFP) for our contract.
If you work in a "highly matrixed," command and control organization driven by deadlines where contract language matters, then this session is for you.
Update 8/23: Our contract has just been awarded to General Dynamics (GDIT). I will be part of the transition team to bring them onboard, giving background on the Agile implementation at SEC. This is why I have proposed this as an experience report. The incoming contractor often has no idea what they've just signed up for in Government Contracting. Often called the "winner's problem," successfully executing against a poorly written RFP, including an "Agile" one, is common in the federal space.
Outline/Structure of the Experience Report
1. Detecting Agile BS and the reasons for Agile BS.
2. Patterns and Anti-Patterns in the current SEC contract language and it possible origins. Agilists, please update your Agile/Scrum information!
3. Possible mitigation strategies for Agile BS.
Let me quote one section from our current RFP:
C.22.214.171.124 STEP 10 RETROSPECTIVE: After the Sprint is complete, the team looks back on how the Sprint went. This typically includes all Sprint team members, including the PO. This process often involves discussion on what went well, what went poorly, and areas of improvement. If a Sprint goal fails during the demo phase, the Sprint team will collectively determine during retrospective step 10 if the Sprint goal failure is contractor caused or Government caused. The review results of the Sprint goal failure will be documented (IAW E008 Software Development Plan) and signed by the PL and SM. Sprint goals not completed in a Sprint will be pushed to future Sprint(s). In accordance with C.14.13.8 below, if the Sprint goal failure was the contractor’s fault, any re-work costs paid to the contractor will result in a reduction in fixed fee by the corresponding amount.
Read the above again. The Retrospective is supposed to be used to assign blame for "missed" Sprint Goals.
Note: The RFP above assumes matrixed, mixed teams with both Organic (Government) and Contract Labor.
In my experience report, I will show how the Army Contracting Command (ACC) has cherry picked wording from a previous Scrum Guide, using the Sprint Review as a "Report Card" that leads to assigning a "grade" and "punishment" in the Retrospective.
Participants will be able to:
* Better detect Agile BS in Government RFPs.
* Identify several common reasons why RFPs have Agile BS.
* Describe several "plays" you can use to nudge the Federal Government to become more Agile.
Contractors, Contracting Officers, Civilians, Military, Enterprise, Agile Transformation Coaches, Scaled Agile
Prerequisites for Attendees
Read the following:
C.14.1.3 Note: SEC utilizes industry standard Agile Scrum methodologies and terminology which can be found at Attachment 0015 in Section J of this document.
C.14.2.1 Project Lead (PL): Government; Project Lead will provide sign-off for entrance and exit criteria for Sprints. Ensures that Government standards are being met (e.g., development standards, backlog /Sprint tracking, testing standards, etc.).
C.14.2.2 Scrum Master (SM): Contractor or Government; Keeps the team on task, has strategy for how to remove impediments, ensures Agile milestones are being performed. Focus on Process Improvement.
C.14.2.3 Product Owner (PO): Government; Prioritizes work in the backlog, works directly with the team.
C.14.2.4 Technical Lead (TL): Contractor or Government; Leads a small programming team to design features and prioritize tasks. Supports team by answering questions and solving problems.
C.14.2.5 Sprint Team: Mix of Contractor & Government technical staff carrying out the software development. When referring to the Sprint Team, one can often include the PO, PL, and SM.
Attachment 0015 is the Scrum Guide that * I * got them to use as part of the RFP. Who can point out all the Scrum "roles" that are "Industry Standards" that are not part of the Scrum Guide?
Dealing with anti-patterns like the above as part of your daily work is the primary prerequisite for all attendees.
schedule Submitted 1 year ago
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