People Spotlight

Furthering Agile Concepts at NewWave

April 16, 2020

For software and product development, the time to market (i.e. the time it takes to transform an idea into a product and push it to market) is critical. At  NewWave, a leading digital services provider for the Federal Government, this is no different. As we develop products, we need the ability to do it quickly and efficiently. This is where agile transformation and the adoption of agile principles and concepts is key to overall performance. 

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development is based on four values:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan.

Agile principles play a role in our work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation (CMMI).  These concepts are highly relevant to our work in that we view various platforms as products with their own teams, and each team needs to deliver to production for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation community. It’s important for each team to practice agile concepts so each team is better positioned to deliver.

The mission of NewWave’s Agile Manage Office (AMO), is to provide Agile leadership and governance for the IDOS program at NewWave by aligning delivery teams, management, and operations to provide cost-effective, high quality, and innovative technology solutions to our customers that consistently exceeds their expectations. 

Agile 101 Training at NewWave led by Bill Wheeler

As the AMO IDOS Agile coach at NewWave, my responsibilities include leading some of the Agile Brown Bag sessions. The goal behind this educational series is to teach our team on agile principles during our IDOS Agile Transformation.  These Brown Bag sessions are not meant to replace formal training where the attendees can test and get certified on the classes, but instead create an open and collaborative environment to augment any formal training they may have received earlier. Each class is interactive, with input and questions taken from the audience and discussed so everyone feels included. We also make use of multiple large conference tv monitors and cameras, so everyone feels included whether or not they’re remote.

In our recent Agile User Story Writing 101 class, we discussed the importance of User Stories and the direct correlation to the four values referenced in the Agile Manifesto I shared earlier:

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: I think of a user story as a conversation starter between individuals. Individuals interact to put flesh on the idea that was submitted as a user story

2. Working software over comprehensive documentation: A user story is by no means a set of comprehensive documentation, but it’s defined enough and agreed on by team members so it can be transformed in the working software.

3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: Throughout the entire process of creating, defining, and accepting a user story there is complete collaboration with the customer.

4. Responding to change over following a plan: Once a user story is completed, coded, and delivered, the team can celebrate the win…right? Not always. Once it’s delivered, the story may spawn new ideas or uncover something that wasn’t previously thought of. The product owner may decide to go in another direction based on what was delivered. This is not a bad thing, this is agile. Responded to change in order to deliver what is needed, not necessarily what was planned.

The ability to accept and react to change is one of my favorite concepts of agile, to me it’s the essence of agile. Change is a constant.

Although there is much more to agile than can be summarized in this blog, it’s my hope this introduction to agile expresses our need to transform our shared thinking about product development to a mindset that is more focused on what the customer actually needs.  User stories are the conversation starter, combined with the team to help understand the need and agile helps us deliver on the need.

Agile helps us respond to change and delivery not only by what was planned, but what was needed. 

For more details on Agile values and principles you can visit https://agilemanifesto.org/.

Bill Wheeler
WRITTEN BY

Bill Wheeler

Program Delivery Project Manager
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