Build Scale with Strength: Creating an Agile Program Management Powerhouse (part 2)

Posted by Steve Elliott on Oct 8, 2018 1:15:00 PM
Last week, I talked about my Grandpa's "powerhouse" workshop, how AgileCraft models its "powerhouse" program management features after the way he carefully thought about the most efficient way of getting work done and how his careful creation of this work environment inspired me. We've developed these features over the years, in collaboration with our customers and partners, and continue to refine as we learn more about how our customers scale for success in the enterprise.
We believe if you’re going to run a scaled agile program or release trains, this is pretty much the most well-thought-out, comprehensive set of features you’ll find in the industry. Our program management powerhouse was inspired by the thought leadership of big system lean / agile thinkers like Dean LeffingwellEric Ries and Eliyahu Goldratt in coordination with our top Fortune 500 customers. Some might say I’m biased, so I invite you to peruse the ways we designed our powerhouse with programs and release trains – and the people who work on them – in mind.
Program Room
The heartbeat of the program or PI is captured in the AgileCraft Program Room. This dashboard is a powerful snapshot of everything an agile program manager or RTE needs to quickly understand every aspect of the critical activities in a given program, PI, release train or sprint. It removes the heavy impediment of generating suites of manual reports and delivers PMs/RTEs elegantly visualized, accurate, real-time, up-to-date information on the key aspects of the program. This is the cornerstone of the AgileCraft program management powerhouse where you will find the key things that are needed to make the daily life of PMs and RTEs clearer, easier, and just plain better:
  • Process guidance designed to guide you through all the critical parts of PI planning, backlog creation and grooming, tracking and optimizing work in progress and the identification and management of dependencies.

  • Work progress relative to PI commitments and how that might impact commitments. 

  • Monitoring team velocity for anomalies or improper loading trends
  • Highly visible risks and dependencies, visible as “first class citizen” program artifacts
  • Flexible views of feature and epic completion progress.
  • Inter-team messaging and chat, enabling better understanding into team daily life, story progress, and release DevOps issues.
  • An overview of runway for epics, capabilities, features, and stories with goals and actual results, enabling visualization of capability vs. plans.
program room
Program Board
While the AgileCraft Program Room highlights the many moving parts between the team and program level, the Program Board provides a clear view that focuses squarely on the PI and progress of the sprints within it relative to program objectives and the teams working on it. Unlike the analog program boards used in PI planning, our digital board is updated in near real time as changes occur making it a comprehensive fast way to measure the PI health, and also the primary point of analysis for the PM/RTE.
  • Features, dependencies and objectives are broken out by each sprint of the PI.

  • Progress is color coded, so completed items and risks, problem areas are immediately made visible.

  • Visibility in real time when the plan changes.
  • Each feature can be drilled down to see the stories, risks and dependencies associated
  • with it.  Each of these objects can be further drilled down into detail view.
Program Reporting
A specific set of program reports are brought together to facilitate insights into key metrics that unlock unprecedented views of program progress and health to help identify any red flags that require the removal of team and program impediments.
  • The best dependency management solution available, including multiple inter-team/program visualizations and the ability to filter epics, features, and capabilities.

  • Everything you need to know about releases, including burn up and burn down charts, as well as release vehicle progress and contents.

  • The work associated with achieving objectives and progress toward completion.

  • Innovative ways of viewing and organizing work and product idea through story maps, functional maps and a work tree, with an eye to linking work to strategy, objectives and themes.

  • Forecasting and program predictability reports that take historical data and facilitates more informed decisions about future program and PI increment commitments.
Continuous Improvement Enablement
Continuous improvement is at the heart of any agile program, and as the scale is greater, the complexity around this increase. RTEs and PMs need to facilitate this regularly and easily. Transformation activities such as team retrospectives and inspect & adapt sessions are recorded and made actionable to deliver into the backlog. 
  • Assessments allow the team to provide candid input about how they feel about achieving specific objectives, and solicit ideas for how to implement positive change.

  • Retrospective summaries allow teams to rank sprint effectiveness and PMs/RTEs to drive any actions that result from the event.

  • Definition of done creates the baseline against which teams can continually assess whether quality and feature objectives are being met.
A robust, proven set of powerhouse tools designed specifically for the agile PM and RTE is the best way you can set your organization up for success. Programs and release trains can increase efficiency and make progress faster using these four simple toolboxes. Only AgileCraft can deliver them with style and ease while giving you the power to choose only the tools that matter to you. Visit us today and sign up for an overview of our program management solution – we’d love to show you around.

Topics: Digital transformation, lean agile, enterprise agile, agile at scale, program management