@SCALE

THE AGILECRAFT BLOG

Steve Elliott

Steve founded AgileCraft in 2013 to help leaders excel in their management duties through the use of agile to transform the way they do business. He is passionate about finding ways to help organizations scale all aspects of business operations. Steve has been a senior executive in multiple startups including Vovici acquired by Verint, Approva acquired by Infor and Virsa acquired by SAP AG. He has lead several successful agile transformations including a large scale 50+ team agile transformation with 12 release trains at a large public company. Steve began his career at PwC as a security and controls expert. He holds an advanced business degree from Texas Tech and is a graduate of the Executive Management Program at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Business.

Recent Posts

Steve's Top 10 #WorldsMostAgile Humans List

Posted by Steve Elliott on Jul 10, 2018 1:09:18 PM

In my last post, I covered the seven characteristics of what being #WorldsMostAgile means to me. These were inspired by a group of humans that have had or are currently changing the world with their ability to think and act with agility. So without further ado, I’ll introduce you to my dream team roster of #WorldsMostAgile humans, divided into two categories:

The first list includes the immediate movers and shakers who are currently tearing it up out there on the front lines, in the throes of their immediate transformation successes. The second list covers the lifetime achievement awards, for leaders who have changed the world in over the course of their long and influential careers

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Topics: Scaled Agile, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, lean agile, CIO, enterprise agile, agile at scale, strategy, leadership

The 7 Attributes of the #WorldsMostAgile Humans

Posted by Steve Elliott on Jun 25, 2018 12:43:42 PM

At AgileCraft we like to have a little fun, and one night, after we were up late building out the new website (I sure hope you like it!), we did a little joshing around about what agile superheroes might be able to do. Could they jump 50 release trains in a single bound? Could they groom a backlog using mind powers? Photoshop, a few beers and some stock photos of millennials with impressive beards got involved, and, well, we ended up with this tongue-in-cheek portfolio of the #WorldsMostAgile humans. And hey – if you can think of any superhuman agile powers, feel free to submit them to add to our collection! 

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Topics: Scaled Agile, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, lean agile, CIO, enterprise agile, agile at scale, strategy, leadership

The Perils of Marketplace Apps and Heavy Jira Customization – Advice from Atlassian and Steve

Posted by Steve Elliott on May 30, 2018 2:27:09 PM

Atlassian recently released a terrific, yet cautionary, article and infographic on strategic ways to prepare for scaling Jira to the enterprise. They shared some pretty mind-boggling statistics on the size and scale of their enterprise-sized customers’ Jira instances. As a Jira fan, my eyebrows raised so high they nearly left my head when I read the statistics around the sheer scale of what enterprises are doing with Jira at the team level:

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Topics: Scaled Agile, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, atlassian, JIRA, CIO, enterprise agile, agile at scale, strategy

AgileCraft Named a Strategic Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Posted by Steve Elliott on May 9, 2018 12:31:10 PM

I’m very pleased to announce that we’ve been included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools as the top visionary offering a comprehensive solution for large-scale organizations aspiring to embrace Agile and DevOps. This is the first time we’ve been included in a Gartner Magic Quadrant, and we are honored that we’ve been chosen for such a prestigious position.

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Topics: Scaled Agile, capacity planning, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, ROI, devops, CIO, Fintech, enterprise agile

The Quest for DevOps Repeatable Robustitude* in a Scaled Agile Transformation

Posted by Steve Elliott on Mar 22, 2018 1:15:10 PM

Innovation.  Speed.  Quality.  Value.  Today’s tech savvy customers demand these from the companies they support. If your organization can’t deliver on those expectations, consumers are just a single mouse click away from another company that can fill their order in a millisecond.  Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, put it this way; “Our customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service.” When scaling Agile in your transforming organization, you need to be fully confident in the repeatable robustitude* of your delivery pipeline. The principles surrounding DevOps (people, process and technology), play a key role in that journey, and front and center is automation around testing, continuous integration, and continuous delivery.

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Topics: Scaled Agile, capacity planning, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, ROI, devops, CIO, Fintech

The Best of 2018 Predictions on Digital Transformation

Posted by Steve Elliott on Feb 15, 2018 1:09:29 PM

Now that January is behind us and I have been able to read up on all the latest predictions for digital transformation in 2018, I wanted to highlight some of my favorites that resonated with me and I think they will resonate with you also.

  1. By the End of 2019, DX Spending Will Reach $1.7 Trillion Worldwide, a 42% Increase from 2017 –IDC Top 10 Worldwide Digital Transformation (DX) Predictions
  2. By 2019, All Digitally Transformed Organizations Will Generate at Least 45% of Their Revenue from "Future of Commerce" Business Models -  IDC Top 10 Worldwide Digital Transformation (DX) Predictions
  3. 20% of CEOs will fail to act: As a result, those firms will be acquired or begin to perish. –Forrester 2018 Predictions – A Year of Reckoning
  4. By 2020, five of the top seven digital giants will willfully "self-disrupt" to create their next leadership opportunity. Gartner Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond/ Pace Yourself, for Sanity's Sake
  5. Individuals are increasingly asserting their desire to communicate and collaborate however they want, using their choice of tools. Employees ─ particularly millennials don’t just prefer to use their own devices, they also want to use their own applications. –Dimension Data Top IT Trends for 2018: digital workplaces
  6. Digital disruptions … show no sign of being reduced in frequency or impact. Instead, those who seek value from technology-based options must move faster as their bimodal IT efforts move into high gear. –  Gartner Top Strategic Predictions for 2018 and Beyond/ Pace Yourself, for Sanity's Sake
  7. Over the next 18 to 24 months, we will likely see CIOs begin reengineering not only their IT shops but, more broadly, their approaches to technology. – Deloitte Insights Tech Trends 2018 -  The symphonic enterprise
  8. By 2020, we expect that the ‘new normal’ operating model will be customer- and context-cantered. That is, companies will change the way they interact with their customers based on the context of the exchange. They will offer a seamless omnichannel experience, through a smart balance of human and machines.- Financial services technology 2020 and beyond: Embracing disruption
  9. Seventy percent of healthcare companies are looking to digitize their operations in order to facilitate growth. While healthcare organizations see the value of digitalization, just 3 percent have completed digital transformations across their enterprises, while 54 percent of the organizations are testing or piloting digital transformation programs. - SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: “4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart"
  10. And one last one from me - 2018 will be the first year AI is truly harnessed in large scale enterprises to optimize software delivery and accelerate digital transformation.  

Hear more about AgileCraft’s adoption of Artificial Intelligence in our latest press release on our mission to optimize enterprise agility with machine learning.

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Topics: Scaled Agile, capacity planning, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, ROI, CIO, Fintech

Scaling Agile with JIRA Plugins: the 1968 Alfa Romeo Solution to Scale

Posted by Steve Elliott on Jan 31, 2018 4:55:46 PM

It’s like that time you saw that gorgeous 1968 Alfa Romeo Giulietta for sale on Craigslist – truly a thing of beauty, with all the bells and whistles one could want. It even has a brand-new paint job, new aftermarket headlights, and a cool new stereo. The owner is selling it for dirt cheap, and insists it’s ready to go, . It’s like the mythical Craig of Craigslist crawled right in your head, figured out your dream car and plopped it right into your search results. Excitedly, you mention it to your favorite uncle, who happens to be a very smart, old school auto mechanic.

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Topics: Scaled Agile, Agile Metrics & Measurement, capacity planning, Enterprise Scaled Agile, Digital transformation, Agile, atlassian, ROI, JIRA

What SAFe 4.5 can do for you? Getting the most out of SAFe 4.5

Posted by Steve Elliott on Dec 12, 2017 11:46:41 AM

The release of SAFe® 4.5 couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve spent most of my career in startups and Lean startups, and UX has truly become my passion. Fortunately, 4.5 brings Lean startup and UX concepts to the enterprise, while driving a clearer and deeper integration with SAFe. So, whether you are just starting to implement the SAFe framework or are in the process of updating to 4.5, I wanted to share some tips and tricks to make the move more successful.

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Topics: Agile, SAFe, lean agile, devops

AgileCraft Named as a 2017 Red Herring North America Winner

Posted by Steve Elliott on Jun 19, 2017 2:39:22 PM
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Topics: Scaled Agile, Agile, atlassian, JIRA, SAFe, redherring

Agile Predictions for 2017: The "Tumping" Point

Posted by Steve Elliott on Nov 29, 2016 1:18:45 PM

2016 has been an amazing year. The agile conversation has continued to expand beyond just software development. Agile is not simply a conversation for the IT department any longer, as the business is now an active participant at the table. CIOs are playing such a key role in the enterprise that they are now sitting on the Board of Directors. CMOs have started to embrace an active role in transformations per their involvement in digital transformation. CFOs are getting into the action as well. And most exciting, we are getting very close to a true case study of a 100% successful agile transformation from strategy ideation at the executive level down through the entire organization. 

At the same time, a lot has happened at AgileCraft in 2016.  Most exciting was being named Fortune’s #1 SMB Place to Work, among other awards we have received.  Our growth has been explosive—more and more customers are starting their agile transformation with us; we have seen global expansion of both customers and team members; and new and exciting product enhancements, including our new Roadmapping and Time Tracking tools that are coming in Q1, along with our reimagined user experience.

So, as we head into the last month of the year, I thought I would take the time to make some predictions for what I expect to see coming for agile in 2017:

Enterprises that have traditionally resisted Agile will get on board

The majority of companies in the Fortune 1000 who have resisted investing in agile IT transformation will officially fund large scale transformation initiatives in 2017. Companies will look for new ways to fund transformations, including having the Finance department embrace capitalization of software based on agile development practices. I might sound like a broken record on this topic, but here is the realization that every large enterprise will reach sooner or later: every company is now a software company.  If you don’t embrace this and vow to be excellent at building software, you risk letting others gain the competitive advantage. C-level execs who understand this and react to the need for transformation will lead in their respective spaces and maintain that lead.  It’s very clear, you can’t succeed in the digital world by resisting agile.

Planning, accounting, and balancing will become the top focus

The large-scale frameworks will begin to focus on cross-portfolio planning, bimodal accounting, and portfolio balancing as the PPM space continues to contract.  This has caused an acceleration of momentum in the last 4 months.  Agile at Scale started at the Program level with the notion of team of teams/scrum of scrums rolling up into the release trains.  As we have progressed with Agile at Scale, it’s moved up to the Portfolio level and beyond.  However, common challenges are emerging, such as the need to satisfy the auditors, the corporate governance structure, and the Finance department, which all live in a bi-modal world.  Many transformations stop before they start because enterprises are unaware of how skill set based utilization planning and agile teams can co-exist.  Additionally, the need for real-time actionable data from a solution that provides a single source of data has become a necessity.  Finally, instead of manually compiling error-prone PowerPoints and spreadsheets, there will be a move towards one-click, comprehensive status reports in real time. (Shameless plug for AgileCraft)

Additional frameworks will be introduced, but stall quickly

New scaled agile frameworks will attempt to enter the market, but their success will be limited, with one of the new frameworks centered around the modern agile movement.  Existing methods of scale will stay flat or contract in market share as the Scaled Agile Framework continues to expand.  Several frameworks, including SAFe, LESS, Kanban, Nexus, and DAD give companies several options to choose from.  Many enterprises struggle to decide where to start and what works best for them.  Let’s face it, SAFe is the market leader and it dominates in the marketplace.  No organization implements SAFe 100% by the book, but many successful organizations are figuring out how to mold the framework to fit their business through the use of a common language that SAFe provides.

Application Development Lifecycle Management and Product Portfolio Management will converge

Last, but not least, are the changes I expect to see in Application Development Lifecycle Management (ADLM) and Product Portfolio Management (PPM) space.  As business and enterprise agility takes a more prominent role, the traditional PMO will become obsolete and the ADLM and PPM markets will officially converge.  Thinking back, this should have been one of my predictions for 2016.  Companies no longer want to, or can afford to, invest in a full-fledged PPM solution.  The ROI just doesn’t make sense.  Most companies that are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a PPM solution are rarely using the platform for comprehensive portfolio planning.  Most focus primarily on time tracking and some light-weight resource allocation, so it no longer makes sense to make this significant financial investment.  I believe that enterprises will make a big shift to ADLM solutions that can support their true needs at a much more cost-effective path.

The “tumping point” will be reached

I had a debate with my wife one evening when I used the phrase “Don’t tump that over.”  I argued that tump was in fact a word, and she dissented.  Siri cleared it up and validated that it is a word and I was using it correctly.  Merriam-Webster informed us that it was a “chiefly southern” phrase, but proper nonetheless.  Since then I have referred to tipping points as tumping points just to have a little fun with my friends that were English majors.  With that background story in mind, I believe that in 2017 Agile Business Transformations will truly take hold from top to bottom in several Fortune 500 at-scale scenarios.  We have been flirting with it for a couple of years and it is finally fixing to tump over.  We were impressed when agile made a team of 12 work more efficiently, so it will be incredible to see an entire enterprise wired with agile principals from top to bottom.  This enterprise shift will be very consequential to how companies compete in the modern era and I am looking forward to seeing software continue to disrupt and improve the world. 

Curious what your thoughts are, do you agree or disagree?

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Topics: Scaled Agile, Agile, PPM