Enterprise Executive July-August 2015 : Page 56

PE A K | P ER F OR M A NC E DAVID RIZZO gile development has been a hot topic for some time. But it has just recently gotten the traction it deserves in the mainframe community. So, mainframe leaders don’t have as many proven successes to learn from as their peers in the web/mobile/distributed world. That’s why I thought I’d share a few lessons from my organization’s very successful—and remarkably rapid— embrace of Agile on the mainframe. No one should embark on the challenging journey to Agile without knowing exactly why they’re doing so. It doesn’t make much sense to invest time, effort and money into that journey just because others are apparently doing it. Nor is it very inspiring to your team if you seem to be moving them to Agile just to get more and faster work out of them. Instead, Agile is better understood as a set of values that empower development teams to more quickly and frequently deliver functionality that is tightly aligned with the changing needs of the business— which increasingly means the needs of the business’s customers. Or, put another way, Agile is your development team’s contribution to the agility of the business. And in today’s fast-moving markets, that means it’s also development’s contribution to your company’s bottom-line performance. It is especially crucial for this contribution to occur on the mainframe. Lesson #1: Why Precedes How A Sure, much initial adoption of Agile has been by companies looking to keep their mobile apps and customer-facing web presence out ahead of the competition. But if your company operates a mainframe, chances are that’s where your mobile app transactions ultimately get processed. And many of your web apps are hitting your mainframe databases, too. So, your company’s ability to innovate and add value to your customer experience is at least in part contingent on your ability to modify or add mainframe code in exactly the right way—as quickly and as often as necessary. That’s what Agile offers. And that’s what your whole team will need to understand. Lesson #2: Agile Development Isn’t Enough Agile on the Mainframe— First Why, Then How While Agile development is essential for success in today’s fast-moving, digitally enabled markets, it is not sufficient . If your account teams don’t have their fingers on the pulse of the market—and if they don’t have a fast, reliable way of sharing their market insight with your development teams— there’s nothing to really be Agile about. Similarly, once your developers have succeeded in quickly delivering the new capabilities customers need, it’s incumbent upon your marketing and sales teams to 56 | E nt e rp r i s e E xe c u t i ve | Jul y/Augus t 2015

PEAK PERFORMANCE

David Rizzo

Agile development has been a hot topic for some time. But it has just recently gotten the traction it deserves in the mainframe community. So, mainframe leaders don’t have as many proven successes to learn from as their peers in the web/mobile/distributed world.

That’s why I thought I’d share a few lessons from my organization’s very successful—and remarkably rapid— embrace of Agile on the mainframe.

Lesson #1: Why Precedes How
No one should embark on the challenging journey to Agile without knowing exactly why they’re doing so. It doesn’t make much sense to invest time, effort and money into that journey just because others are apparently doing it. Nor is it very inspiring to your team if you seem to be moving them to Agile just to get more and faster work out of them.

Instead, Agile is better understood as a set of values that empower development teams to more quickly and frequently deliver functionality that is tightly aligned with the changing needs of the business— which increasingly means the needs of the business’s customers.

Or, put another way, Agile is your development team’s contribution to the agility of the business. And in today’s fast-moving markets, that means it’s also development’s contribution to your company’s bottom-line performance.

It is especially crucial for this contribution to occur on the mainframe. Sure, much initial adoption of Agile has been by companies looking to keep their mobile apps and customer facing web presence out ahead of the competition. But if your company operates a mainframe, chances are that’s where your mobile app transactions ultimately get processed. And many of your web apps are hitting your mainframe databases, too.

So, your company’s ability to innovate and add value to your customer experience is at least in part contingent on your ability to modify or add mainframe code in exactly the right way—as quickly and as often as necessary. That’s what Agile offers. And that’s what your whole team will need to understand.

Lesson #2: Agile Development Isn’t Enough
While Agile development is essential for success in today’s fast-moving, digitally enabled markets, it is not sufficient. If your account teams don’t have their fingers on the pulse of the market—and if they don’t have a fast, reliable way of sharing their market insight with your development teams— there’s nothing to really be Agile about.

Similarly, once your developers have succeeded in quickly delivering the new capabilities customers need, it’s incumbent upon your marketing and sales teams to quickly get the word out and start closing deals. If they can’t, then once again you will forfeit any business advantages you might have gained with Agile.

To use a sports analogy, it’s like having a fast receiver with great moves who can consistently get open deep. That won’t do your team much good if your quarterback can’t get him the ball.

In other words, Agile should not be pursued by development in isolation. It should always be part of a broader strategy for improved business agility.

Lesson #3: Agile Isn’t a methodology
Adopting Agile simply means you embrace principles such as accelerating delivery of “minimum viable product” and creating small, closely knit teams with complete, end-to-end responsibility for those deliverables.

But Agile itself is not actually a methodology. In fact, there are several different methodologies you can use to go Agile. I suggest you investigate all those options, rather than adopting a Scrum/ Sprint approach by default—because each methodology has its own pros and cons.

At my company, for example, we use Scrum/Sprint for customer-driven deliverables and Kanban for our currency efforts (i.e., the work we do to make sure we’re synched with the latest and greatest IBM z Systems hardware and software upgrades).

I have to emphasize that these are not just issues for software vendors like Compuware. In today’s application economy, every company is a software company in one sense or the other.

So, if you haven’t gone Agile on your mainframe yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. Markets move too fast—and customer expectations are too high—to remain mired in traditional extended waterfall development cycles.

David Rizzo is the director of Product Development for Compuware. He has more than 20 years of IT experience with roles in development, architecture and strategic planning. Email: david.rizzo@compuware.com

Read the full article at http://ourdigitalmags.com/article/PEAK+PERFORMANCE/2244015/269252/article.html.

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