Executive Summary of 4 commonly used Agile Methodologies

AGILE – What business executives need to know #2: Overview of 4 most commonly used Agile Methodologies

In the first article in this series we focussed on an overview of what Agile software development is and referred to the Agile SCRUM methodology to describe the agile principles.

Let’s recap – Wikipedia describes Agile Software Development as an approach to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing cross functional teams and their customers / end users.  It advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change. For an overview see the first blog post…

Several agile delivery methodologies are in use for example: Adaptive Software Development (ASD); Agile Nodelling; Agile Unified Process (AUP); Disciplined Agile Delivery; Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM); Extreme Programming (XP); Feature-Driven Development (FDD); Lean Software Development (LEAN); Kanban; Rapid Application Development (RAD); Scrum; Scrumban.

This article covers a brief overview of the four most frequently used Agile Methodologies:

  • Scrum
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Lean
  • Kanban

 

SCRUM

Using Scrum framework the project work is broken down into user stories (basic building blocks of agile projects – these are functional requirements explained in an in business context) which are collated in the backlog (work to be done). Stories, from the backlog, are grouped into sprints (development iteration) based on story functionality dependencies, priorities and resource capacity. The resource capacity is determined by the speed (velocity) at which the team can complete stories, which are categorised into levels of complexity and effort required to complete. Iterations are completed with fully functional deliverables for each story until all the needed stories are completed for functional solutions.

SCRUM

Scrum is based on three pillars:

  • Transparency – providing full visibility on the project progress and a clear understanding of project objectives to the project team but more importantly to the stakeholders responsible for the outcome of the project.
  • Inspection – Frequent and repetitive checks on project progress and milestones as work progresses towards the project goal. The focus of these inspections is to identify problems and differences from the project objectives as well as to identify if the objectives have changed.
  • Adaptation – Responding to the outcome of the inspections to adapt the project to realign in addressing problems and change in objectives.

Through the SCRUM methodology, four opportunities for Inspection and Adaptation are provided:

  • Sprint Retrospective
  • Daily Scrum meeting
  • Sprint review meeting
  • Sprint planning meeting

A Scrum team is made of a Product Owner, a Scrum Master and the Development Team.

Scrum activity can be summarised within the following events:

  • Sprint – a fixed time development iteration
  • Sprint Planning meetings
  • Daily Scrum meetings (Stand-Up meetings)
  • Sprint Review meetings
  • Sprint Retrospectives

 

XP – EXTREME PROGRAMMING

XP

Extreme Programming (XP) provides a set of technically rigorous, team-oriented practices such as Test Driven Development, Continuous Integration, and Pairing that empower teams to deliver high quality software, iteratively.

 

LEAN

LEAN

Lean grew from out of the Toyota manufacturing Production System (TPS). Some key elements of this methodology are:

  • Optimise the whole
  • Eliminate waste
  • Build quality in
  • Learn constantly
  • Deliver fast
  • Engage everybody
  • Keep improving

Lean five principles:

  1. Specify value from the customer’s point of view. Start by recognizing that only a small percentage of overall time, effort and resources in a organization actually adds value to the customer.
  2. Identify and map the value chain. This is the te entire set of activities across all part of the organization involved in delivering a product or service to the customer. Where possible eliminate the steps that do not create value
  3. Create flow – your product and service should flow to the customer without any interruptions, detours or waiting – delivering customer value.
  4. Respond to customer demand (also referred to as pull). Understand the demand and optimize the process to deliver to this demand – ensuring you deliver only what the customer wants and when they want it – just in time production.
  5. Pursue perfection – all the steps link together waste is identified – in layers as one waste rectification can expose another – and eliminated by changing / optimizing the process to ensure all assets add value to the customer.

 

KANBAN

Kanban is focussed the visual presentation and management of work on a kanban board to better balance the understanding of the volume of work with the available resources and the delivery workflow.

KANBAN

Six general work practices are exercised in kanban:

  • Visualisation
  • Limiting work in Progress (WIP)
  • Flow management
  • Making policies explicit
  • Using feedback loops to ensure customer and quality alignment
  • Collaborative & experimental evolution of process and solutions

By limiting WIP you are minimising waste through the elimination of multi tasking and context switching.

There is no prescription of the number of steps to follow but it should align with the natural evolution of the changes being made in resolving a problem or completing a specific peace of work.

It focuses on delivering to customer expectations and needs by promoting team collaboration including the customer.

 

A Pragmatic approach

These techniques together provide a powerful, compelling and effective software development approach that brings the needed flexibility / agility into the software development lifecycle.

Combining and borrowing components from different methodologies to find the optimum delivery method that will deliver to the needs of the organisation is key. Depending on the specific business needs/situation, these components are combined to optimise the design, development and deployment of the software.

Helpful references:

A good overview of different agile methodologies can be found on slideshare at https://www.slideshare.net/SmartBizVN/introduction-to-agile-and-lean-software-development.

 

Let’s Talk – Are you looking to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth? We can help – make contact!

 

SPHERE grows – delivering shared IT services to the NHS’ West-Middlesex University Hospital

West-Mid logo

SPHERE grows – delivering IT Shared Services to West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

SPHERE, Systems Powering Healthcare Ltd, is incorporating West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust into the shared IT service provision that they supply to a number of NHS Trusts. This includes Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which acquired West Middlesex in 2015.

The project results from several months of preparatory work by SPHERE, assessing its scope and provisioning the service transfer, with completion scheduled for October 2017.

SPHERE is an IT shared services provider to the healthcare sector, primarily NHS Foundation Trusts. It was set up by Chelsea and Westminster and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trusts to deliver and support IT infrastructure for both trusts to achieve economies of scale and bring down the cost per user, says Renier Botha, Managing Director of SPHERE:

“Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trusts is one of the founding members of SPHERE and it made sense for the West Middlesex Trusts to join the shared services management that we provide. We have a proven services model that we can take to a range of other healthcare providers to realise cost savings whilst improving service quality.

“SPHERE will now be supporting an additional 2,000 end users with the commissioning of West Middlesex. This financial year will see the cost per user for member trusts fall substantially through economies of scale,” says Renier Botha.

SPHERE is currently gearing up to support the deployment of the Cerner EPR (Electronic Patient Record) system across the Chelsea Westminster and West-Middlesex NHS Trusts for which it provides shared services.

West Middlesex will be the first Trust to go live with Cerner. Sphere will manage the provision of infrastructure and the overall IT support services and are currently assessing which first line support services will be prioritised for the Cerner platform.

In 2014 Kevin Jarrold, Director on the SPHERE board and CIO at Imperial Healthcare Trust and Chelsea and Westminster, oversaw the deployment of Cerner at Imperial. Sphere will look to capitalise on the learnings of the Imperial team to ensure trouble-free integration of the support services.

To take advantage of the capabilities of cloud computing, SPHERE is moving its primary data centre and specific systems to Equinix, a leading colocation provider, in London.

Equinix has hosted the Cerner platform since 2010 and SPHERE says that this offers a robust solution for the Trusts, improving the IT infrastructure resilience and business continuity capabilities mitigating the key business risks associated with location and services required from IT hosting facilities.

“SPHERE is well positioned to provide improved IT services to the healthcare sector – expanding on the presence of Cerner within the same data centre and utilising the capabilities of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform at Equinix,” says Renier Botha.

For further information please contact SPHERE Head Office – Systems Powering Healthcare Ltd, Unit 101, Harbour Yard London, SW10 0XD – Tel: 020 331 5888.

 

 

Allegiant Air Loyalty

Consulting to Cloud Troopers as the Interim Head of Loyalty Products & Programmes – Renier directed the design, software development and implementation of the points based Allegiant Airlines Loyalty and Rewards Programme to fully leverage the Allegiant services and brand strength to provide new revenue streams and increase the effectiveness of others. The Allegiant Rewards programme is based on a co-branded credit card provided by an American Bank.

 

Guest Blog by Brian Sumers – 1 Sep 2016

Allegiant Air knows less about its most loyal customers than it would like. Its new co-branded credit card could help change that. But will anyone apply for it?

Despite being among the world’s most consistently profitable airlines, Allegiant Air knows relatively little about its customers, though it has learned, through surveys and from Mastercard that they have an average household income slightly above $100,000 and prefer to eat at Olive Garden and shop at TJ Maxx.

The problem is that Allegiant’s customers fly the airline infrequently, with about 80 percent booking one or two tickets per year. And since Allegiant has not had a frequent flyer program, it has fewer opportunities than other airlines to learn about its customers.

But Allegiant, which has reported 53 consecutive profitable quarters, believes it has finally solved its problem. Almost two decades after its first flight, the airline on Thursday launched a co-branded credit card — a Bank of America Mastercard — the first for Allegiant, a niche carrier that prefers routes other airlines avoid, such as St. Cloud, Minnesota to Phoenix, Minot, North Dakota to Las Vegas and Belleville, Illinois to Jacksonville. Allegiant will enter a market saturated with travel-themed cards from nearly every airline and hotel company, but it is hopeful the new card will give it more insights into its passengers.

“I am surprised it has taken them this long,” said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks Company and an authority on airline ancillary revenue schemes. “But what is unique about Allegiant is their base of business is probably very distinct from the traditional airlines. It is an interesting position.”

Credit card deals can be lucrative, and when American re-upped deals with Barclays and Citi in July, it said they could produce $1.5 billion in pre-tax revenue over two and a half years. Allegiant is tiny compared to American — the discounter had 85 aircraft at the end of June — but its deal should be lucrative, too.

“We think it is going to be valuable piece of business,” said Brian Davis, Allegiant’s vice president for marketing and sales, declining to give exact numbers. “We see our peers and the revenue generated from programs like this.”

The card comes as Allegiant, long an iconoclast in the U.S. airline industry, starts to look more like its competitors, all of whom have long had co-branded credit cards and loyalty programs. Allegiant, which had bought only used planes, recently placed its first order for new aircraft from Airbus. And, despite mostly flying between small and medium sized markets for most of its history, Allegiant is expanding at larger ones, including Newark, New Jersey. It is even starting to compete with larger airlines on some routes after having long avoided direct competition.

Still, with its co-branded credit card, Allegiant is trying something different. Unlike every other U.S. airline, Allegiant will not award points for travel. Instead, only card-holders, who will pay a $59 annual fee, will earn them. They’ll receive three points for each dollar they spend on Allegiant, two for spending on dining, and one for all other purchases. They can use points for discounts on travel, and the 15,000 points that come as a sign-up bonus can be redeemed for $150 off the price of any ticket. As sweeteners, cardholders receive a free drink when flying Allegiant, as well as discounts on hotel packages. (Allegiant hopes this will help it sell more packages.)

There’s no chance for travelers to redeem for business class airfare to Asia, but Davis said Allegiant’s customers have little interest in complicated redemption schemes.

“Those are built around travelers who travel a ton, and it is worth their time to learn about the rules,” he said. “If you only travel once a year, you’re not going to tolerate a lot of rules and conditions.”

Monitoring customer habits

When card members start spending, Allegiant will have access to more data about its core customers. Bank of America will not share information about individuals, but it will give the airline macro-level insights it does not have today.

“To the extent that people use it as their primary card, you have opened up the window to a lot more data,” Sorensen said. “That data can include, ‘Are they buying products from your competitors? And where are they using the card?”

This is a big deal for Davis. If a customer books a ticket using any credit card on Allegiant, he can learn some details about where else those customers shop, but a branded credit card will give Allegiant access to more aggregate data about what key customers want.

“If through this card, we learn our customers have a really strong affinity for a particular chain of restaurant, then I hope in the next year or two I would hope we would reach out to that restaurant chain about a [tie-in,]” Davis said.

Sorensen said an airline can use data to tailor offers to customers. Allegiant makes considerable revenue on vacation packages, but presumably many of its customers buy hotels independently on Orbitz or another site. If Allegiant can learn more about where its card-holders are staying, it will know more about which hotels to show in prominent positions on its website.

Allegiant also expects to use the card to maintain a year-round relationship with its most loyal customers. Today, it emails customers with deals, but it wants to have other reasons to contact them.

“For the first time, many customers will have a reason to stay connected with us for the other 51 weeks of the year,” Davis said. The goal is to “expand the company’s relationship” with customers, he said.

A challenge to attract card members

Many airlines first start a frequent flyer program and then add a credit card. They create the programs in this order because a carrier with millions of customers in a database has a natural market for its cards.

“It will be a handicap,” Sorensen said. “A general rule of thumb is that once you have a million or more people in a frequent flyer program, then you can start talking to a bank.”

But Allegiant expects to have something other airlines do not — motivated flight attendants. On every flight, they will make announcements and give out paper applications. They will ask passengers to fill them out and will collect them before landing. The on-plane collection is important, Davis said, because the airline fears customers will forget to mail them in.

With the card, Allegiant expects to the same people who buy the bulk of the airline’s tickers — the female head-of-householders. The airline says its core customer is Christie, 48, a married former school teacher with two kids living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Her husband is co-owner of the local insurance company. “Christie has always been in charge of booking vacations for the family and hates wasting time and money,” Allegiant says in internal documents.

Ultimately, though, the card’s success may on how aggressively flight attendants sell it. Other airlines also ask flight attendants to promote cards with limited success, but Allegiant is optimistic its employees, who already earn commissions for other on-plane sales, will be motivated. The flight attendant responsible for each credit card approval will receive a $30 commission.

“At legacy airlines, there is almost always pushback,” Sorensen said. “Flight attendants say, ‘We’re not sales people.’ Hopefully, Allegiant is an airline where the flight attendants understand they are sales people.”

Original Article from Skift click here

GHA Discovery – Loyalty Programme

GHA ICLP GMS Case Study

“GHA Discovery is an innovative program created to recognise and reward guests who embrace our dynamic collection of hotel brands across the globe. We require communications that reflect our unique position, cater to member preferences, and deliver an engaging experience. ICLP has been a great support in launching and running a communication platform across both email and print mediums, proving to be a dedicated partner to our company. ”, KRISTI GOLE, LOYALTY MARKETING MANAGER, GLOBAL HOTEL ALLIANCE

iRedeem Product Development

iRedeem Product Overview

iRedeem is an online redemption programme enabling members of a loyalty or membership programme to spend their loyalty currency on a range of exciting travel, lifestyle and leisure rewards.

Built on leading e-commerce technology and with a network of global partners iRedeem currently serves blue chip companies across the globe, offering them a personalised customer experience. You can incorporate your own inventory to provide greater redemption choice and reduce distressed inventory.

Also read the case study… iRedeem – A Global Airline Case Study

Loyalty in Technology

Global Technology Provider – Case Study

As a world-leading silicon component manufacturer, our client is entirely dependent on 3rd  party multi-national Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), systems integrators and channel resellers to manufacture, market and sell finished products to end customers. Their Channel Partner Programme creates a relationship between the Company and its independent global channel partner community…

The Art of IT Effort Estimation

Why Estimate at all?

Estimation is an essential part of any project methodology. Estimation is used for a number of purposes:

  • To justify the project enabling the costs to be compared with the anticipated benefits and to enable informed comparisons to be made between different technical or functional options.
  • To enforce the discipline needed to make the project succeed.
  • To secure the resources required to successfully deliver the project.
  • To ensure that the support impact of the project is fully understood.
  • To inform and improve the software development process.

What is estimation and why is it so important

Projects are planned and managed within scope, time, and cost constraints. These constraints are referred to as the Project Management Triangle.  Each side represents a constraint.  One side of the triangle cannot be changed without impacting the others. The time constraint refers to the amount of time available to complete a project. The cost constraint refers to the budgeted amount available for the project. The scope constraint refers to what must be done to produce the project’s end result.

These three constraints are often competing constraints: increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost, a tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.

PM 3 Constraints

What are the challenges

  • Lack of communication between…a…b…c
  • Lack of training in basic knowledge and techniques of estimation
  • Inability to do estimations based on – cost – time – scope
  • Project failure through time over runs and faulty estimation

Where are we going wrong?

  • Every day, project managers and business leaders make decisions based on estimates of the dynamics of the project management triangle.
  • Since each decision can determine whether a project succeeds or fails, accurate estimates are critical.
  • Projects launched without a rigorous initial estimate are five times more probable of experiencing delays and cancellations.
  • Even projects with sound initial estimates are doomed if they are not guided by informed decisions within the constraints of the triangle.
  • If you are working under a fixed budget (cost constraint), then an inaccurate estimate of the number of product features you can produce (scope) within a fixed period of time (schedule) will doom your project.
  • Inaccurate estimates across your projects de-optimize your portfolio.
  • Estimates are always questioned when estimates are given with knowledge – no estimation template is being used

How can we improve?

  1.  Outsource the project estimation function to an outside qualified consultant for each project to be able to gain viable and realistic project estimations that can be achieved.
  2.  Education of in-house project managers and technical leads so that we are able to collectively able to provide clear methodologies on how to estimate accurately.

This can be done through an onsite workshop/course  – onsite is cost effective as company will pay one block fee for the attendees instead of delegates going offsite and attending a workshop where individual fees are applicable.

My personal recommendation is option B – as this option will allow us to retain skills in house to be able to produce accurate estimates

What are the long term benefits

Well crafted estimate creates many benefits:

  • alignment between business objectives and technical estimates
  • more informed business decision making
  • reliable project delivery dates
  • improved communication between management and the project team
  • controlled project costs, and
  • satisfied customers

Conclusion

The UK is facing ever tightening economic restraints. This means the quality of work is now, more than ever, of the utmost importance. To stay competitive in a shrinking marketplace, this company cannot afford to get a reputation in the industry for non-performance and bringing in projects over budget and outside estimated time frames. Credibility is the basis on which we build our reputation. In the eyes of clients credibility = successful projects. For us the success of all projects rest on the correct and precise estimation from the start of a project based on best practices, realistic expectations and transparency.