Thursday Aug 23, 2012

Reflections on the Agile2012 Conference

Last week, I had the great fortune to attend the Agile2012 conference at the lovely Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, TX, just a short drive (at least by Texas standards) from where I live.  Overall, the conference was a great experience and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to participate.   I picked up a number of ideas for tools and techniques that will most likely find their way into OUM at some point.   It was encouraging to hear real-world agile success stories described at a number of the sessions and to see the passion and energy from the conference attendees.  Discussions with fellow agile practitioners were extremely valuable, as is usually the case at such conferences.  I plan to include some of these topics in future blogs.

I found that many of the ideas we promote in OUM about balancing agility and discipline are now becoming increasingly in vogue within the agile community.  Teams are finding it valuable to produce plans and documentation at the appropriate level depending on the particular project situation.   Keeping an eye on enterprise architecture and establishing a solid technical architecture was a common theme in several of the sessions I attended.  Whether people use the term iteration or sprint, there was a true appreciation of how the agile approach to managing projects drives out risks and identifies possible errors early on in the project.  To sum it up, I got the impression from the conference that there is a growing recognition of the benefits of flexible and scalable methods like OUM.

I heard several people mention that the Wild West days of agile are coming to an end.  It is my theory that the wider approval of agile techniques, coupled with the growing practice among agile teams to apply a certain amount of discipline, is probably leading to the Wild West impression fading away into the sunset.  In any case, I thought the phrase was rather appropriate given the venue.

What do you think?  Are the Wild West days of agile coming to an end?  Are those days a perception, reality or both?

Tuesday May 01, 2012

OUM and PMI's Pulse of the Profession: The Fourth In a Series

Welcome to the fourth blog entry of the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession .  The previous blog entry focused on Key Finding #3: As organizations continue to strive for agility, change management and project risk management will become even more important.   That entry discussed how change management and risk management s are documented in the OUM Manage Focus Area, as well as woven into the fabric of the Envision and Implement Focus Areas.

In this blog entry we will look at PMI’s Key Finding #4: Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets.  This finding shows a continued awareness that as we look at improving the project management maturity and capabilities of an organization, we must take a three pronged approach of people, processes, and tools.  We know that even with the best tools in place to support our projects, it is still just as important to have proven processes, and a well-trained and informed project team. 

Previous blog entries focused on how OUM supports organizational development by providing processes and tools in the form of content, guidance, templates, and samples.  Since we are focusing on the people part of the equation in the form of talent development, I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about the OUM Training Program.

OUM Training Program

The OUM Training Program helps to ensure that individuals in various roles have the level of delivery knowledge required for them to competently perform their job.  The OUM training program takes an incremental approach in which the courses are arranged in a series of levels.  This approach allows students to build on their knowledge of OUM in manageable increments by progressing from the foundation level courses to those that cover more in-depth material.  You are probably not surprised that we take an iterative and incremental approach to OUM training!

Where to Find OUM Training

Each level of OUM training is available as a self-service, self-paced training course online, except for the Level 3 course which is delivered in the classroom for a fee.  The OUM training can be accessed as follows:

Oracle OPN Partners at the level of Diamond, Platinum or Gold can access the online training through the secure OUM Training Page on Oracle University.

Oracle Customers enrolled in the OUM Customer Program may obtain access to the OUM online training by sending an email to oum-training_us@oracle.com.

Oracle Employees can find the links to the training through the Global Methods internal MyOracle site on the ‘Training’ tab.

Partners and Customers are able to take the Level 3 – Gathering Requirements with OUM course from our partner DevelopMentor.  DevelopMentor has broad training experience and extensive knowledge of the Unified Process, use case practices, and agile development techniques.  For more information and class schedule, please visit their website.

OUM Specialization

We recently launched an OUM Specialization through the Oracle Partner Network.  The OUM Specialization recognizes partner organizations that have proven their extensive understanding of OUM.  Partners who are interested in finding out more about the OUM Specialization can go to the OUM Knowledge Zone on the Oracle Partner Network and click on the ‘Specialize’ tab.

If you have not had an opportunity to take the OUM training, I encourage you to take a look at the various courses and begin your learning with the Level 1 – Overview and Awareness course.  If you have any questions about the OUM Training Program, feel free to email us at oum-training_us@oracle.com.

Stay tuned for the next entry in the series which will address Key Finding #5: Despite tight economic conditions, organizations have been and will continue to increase their focus on benefits realization success metrics.

Tuesday Apr 24, 2012

OUM and PMI's Pulse of the Profession: The Third in a Series

Welcome to the third blog entry of the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession .  The previous blog entry focused on Key Finding #2: The desire for organizational agility will also lead to increased use of iterative and/or incremental project management methods such as agile and extreme.   That entry discussed how agile methodologies, such as OUM, help to enable agility because they are designed to significantly reduce project risk and deliver value much earlier in the lifecycle than traditional waterfall methodologies.

In this blog entry we will jump into a look at PMI’s Key Finding #3:  As organizations continue to strive for agility, change management and project risk management will become even more important.  It is apparent from the survey results that even with a move to more agile approaches, project management fundamentals are still important in managing a project to a successful conclusion.   In OUM, both change management and risk management are specifically addressed from the perspective of the project manager’s role in the Manage Focus Area.  Since change management and risk management are vital to the success of a project, the concepts are also intertwined into many of the principles and guidance in the in the Implement and Envision Focus Areas.

First up is a look at change management, which is a key aspect of agile methodologies like OUM, because such methodologies recognize the reality that requirements will evolve throughout the life cycle of a software project.  This does not mean the project should succumb to project killers like scope creep or gold plating.  It does mean that the necessary change management controls need to be in place that so we can be proactive in identifying potential changes, analyzing the impact of the change , and determining the appropriate trade-offs and alternatives. 

In OUM, the change management controls and procedures are established in Project Start Up (the first phase of the Manage Focus Area) as part of the [SM] Scope Management process.  This means the scope change management procedures for the project are established early in the project lifecycle.  These procedures then serve as the basis for responding to possible scope changes throughout the life of the project.

The heart of OUM, as with any agile method, is the iterative and incremental approach.  The iterative and incremental approach helps to allow scope changes to be proactively managed because it breaks the development cycle into shorter durations and allows for more frequent customer feedback.  Potential changes are identified early on in the development cycle, when there is still time and budget to make corrections.  When potential changes are identified, the project manager and team can be proactive in following the scope change management procedures established in Project Start Up to evaluate and deal with the scope change.

Risk management is also inherent in the iterative and incremental approach.  We talk about OUM being risk-focused because a key goal of each iteration is to identify and reduce the most significant project risks.  This helps ensure that the project team addresses the most critical risks as early as possible in the project lifecycle.

Risk management in OUM can start at the enterprise level in the [ER] Envision Roadmap process in Envision.  This process contains the ER.120 – Identify and Mitigate Future State Risks task in which possible technology and business risks related to the future state are identified. This may be a list of identified architectural improvement options or a list of candidate projects identified to realize the future state.  Also as part of this task, a recommendation for each risk is developed which provides for a future state that represents the lowest risk path to a lower cost infrastructure that improves the ability of IT to support the key business and technical requirements. 

Risk management for a given project starts during Project Start Up in the [RKM] Risk Management process.  In the beginning of the project, the project manager is responsible for documenting, gaining agreement on, and communicating a structured Risk Management Plan as well as developing a Risk Management System for identifying, documenting and mitigating project risks throughout the lifecycle of the project.  The list of risks developed during the Envision Roadmap can serve as a starting point for identifying the risks specific to the project.

During the project lifecycle, OUM recommends first starting to work on the most complex requirements or use cases, or those use cases that are the least well defined, or by creating prototypes to find out if specific technical solutions are feasible.  As the project progresses, each iteration should be planned and executed to reduce and/or eliminate specific project risks.  In this manner, the project’s overall risk will be systematically drawn down to zero by the end of the project.

There have been numerous studies and stories in the recent press that show that a lack of change management and/or risk management is a major factor in project failure.  Therefore, both change management and risk management guidance is documented in the Manage Focus Area, as well as being woven into the fabric of the Envision and Implement Focus Areas.   Also, the OUM Level 3 Gathering Requirements course contains in-depth coverage of scope definition and risk management from an OUM perspective.

Stay tuned for the next entry in the series which will address Key Finding #4: Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets.    In the meantime, you may want to look at the Project Management in OUM and Tips for Project Managers documents, which contain practical tips and advice on using OUM from experienced project managers.  Both of these documents are found in the References section of the Manage Focus Area. 

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