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Flint Brenton

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Agile2016 Discussions: Scaling, Point Tools, and the Enterprise

#Agile Lessons from Agile 2016

I recently participated in several discussions at the Agile Alliance conference called Agile 2016 held in Atlanta and wanted to share what I learned with you because this year the topics were more concrete than ever before. Instead of putting forth open-ended concepts, Agile practitioners were articulating what works well and what doesn’t.

One popular topic over the last few years has been Agile scaling. Many people who visited our booth praised Scrum use by small teams but expressed frustration with how it fails to address all of the visibility and coordination needs of an enterprise.

I see Lean resonating more. There’s a clear transition ongoing from time-boxed processes towards flow-based development models. Lean puts a strong emphasis on validated learning, and continuous delivery/deployment enables fast feedback loops helping in seek of optimal product/market fit. My interactions with conference attendees and presenters left the impression that Lean is extremely well received within the design community and by the business side of operations.

Another topic that was discussed a lot at the conference is the continued adoption of point solutions and tools—some with features that ultimately harm successful Agile adoption. My conversations with practitioners at the conference confirmed that having fully bought into the Agile process, many organizations have a wide range of disconnected tools along the software development lifecycle without any visibility into involved dependencies and processes.

The community realizes that disparate state of multiple point solutions and tools will not enable the scaling and efficiency enterprises need.  Because of that I found that the community is discussing and searching for an overarching solution that provides end-to-end visibility, one that let’s teams use tools they like, but can collect and combine information from various tools and systems. That is a major trend. This kind of traceability is mandatory in regulated industries, but also greatly benefits those without strict regulatory liabilities – having all related information linked together significantly helps with the quality assurance, code re-use, and reporting efforts, just to name a few.

There’s always a bit of tension when it comes to focusing on process vs. tooling. However, we’re past the tipping point for broad Agile adoption, and the industry is realizing that you can’t succeed without sound technical practices and tooling. This is especially true when compliance, governance, or audit trails are imperative.

Getting back from the conference, and having had a little time to reflect, I expect all of us in the Agile community will be discussing  scaling, the use of point tools, and overarching solutions that enable Agile at scale while allowing for the use of popular tools, and the concepts of Lean as well.  Being from CollabNet, these discussions resonate strongly with me. Agile is reaching new depths and is getting management level attention for the beneficial possibilities it offers at scale. As professionals in the field we are in a position to expand the discussion.

Please contact me if you want to discuss the topics in this blog or other related topics. You can email me or start a conversation via CollabNet Twitter. Also, what did you hear at the conference that you’d like to share with our community?  We would love to hear from you. Also, I invite you to join me on LinkedIn to discuss anything about Agile, ALM, and DevOps.

I’m looking forward to seeing where all of this takes us by Agile2017. Hope to see you there!

More Stories By Flint Brenton

Mr. Flint Brenton has extensive experience building successful software companies, with a proven track record of accelerating growth through innovation and sales execution. He is currently CEO of CollabNet, a Vector Capital-owned leader in open Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). He also serves as an operating partner at Vector, advancing its position as a transformational partner to technology businesses. Mr. Brenton is a member of the Software & Services Division (SSD), and is on the board of directors for the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). Previously, Mr. Brenton served as president and CEO of AccelOps, a provider of IT operations analytics for cloud and virtualized infrastructures. Prior to that, he served as president and CEO of Tidal Software, a leader in application automation software. At both AccelOps and Tidal Software, Mr. Brenton more than tripled sales under his leadership while focusing both companies on disruptive product introductions. Tidal Software was later acquired by Cisco and Mr. Brenton served in follow-on capacities there, including vice president of advanced services, and senior vice president of engineering for Cisco's cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings. He also has held leadership positions at NetIQ, Compaq Computer Corporation, BMC Software and IBM. He received a master's in business and public management from Rice University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Mount Union College.