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Dan Foster Servant-Leader with experience in and focus on: Program/Product/Project/Practice Management

Embracing Agile for Resiliency: SAFe® During COVID-19

The devastating COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe, disrupting and destroying many people’s lives while decimating many sectors of the economy. Now more than ever, people are looking for leadership and guidance.  “The best way to lead during all times is with candor and integrity; that’s tripled in times of crisis. Take responsibility, motivate others, install the best people, and keep a visibly cool head.” Former U.S. Attorney and now Podcast host Preet Bharara recently espoused these principles which resonate well and complement nicely the Agile approach and methodology we incorporate at iTrellis to lead clients through software development projects.

Agility with the Agile Methodology

While the Agile Manifesto has been around for almost 20 years, one of its bedrock beliefs is to “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.” In these very unstable and unsettling times, many people are looking for empowerment, especially as we are all feeling disenfranchised and detached. However, while we might be physically living in isolation and maintaining social distancing, cloud-based technology solutions have allowed us to remain united.  At iTrellis, we operate with a mixture of co-located teams supporting geographically distributed clients using cloud based tools.  We continue to practice this model, and transitioning to remote-only individual work environments has been easy for us.

Agile Methodology
Agility and Automation

Azure Dev Ops (ADO)® for Teamwork and Development

We successfully leverage tools like Azure Dev Ops (ADO)®, available at Microsoft's Azure website, which provides free accounts (at this time). Based on Agile principals and ceremonies, its program, project, and task management functionality facilitates visibility and transparency throughout the entire process. Through such tools, the finer points of Agile development as espoused by Scott Ambler can all be easily achieved, including to: (1) enable competent people to collaborate; (2) create incremental, working software in short cycles (iterations/sprints); (3) work closely with customers and clients to uncover their problems, needs and solutions; and (4) allow for easy pivots from technology and/or environment changes along with changing priorities. Such tools also create visualization to track overall progress of work along with capacity planning and utilization to ensure that teams are efficiently completing work throughout sprints and releases with demos of the work being conducted at regularly reoccurring (sprint-end) intervals.

Servant Leadership and Resiliency

Along with our Agile methodology, we encourage the servant leadership model. Our team leads empower our team members to be successful, we achieve greater overall results with our projects through our commitment to the growth of our employees. Servant leaders embody the following attributes, all of which are of paramount importance in today’s work environment for interacting with fellow employees: integrity, humility, flexibility, resilience, stewardship, and empathy. When crisis struck, the distillation of these attributes amongst our managers and the percolation of these traits to all of our employees helped to build greater resiliency amongst our entire workforce. This outcome was well-received and continues to help increase employee morale during these times.

Resiliency and Regrowth
Resiliency and Regrowth

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®)

With our larger clients, we leverage the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®). The guiding principles and overarching core competencies promote business agility and really does foster customer centricity. According to Peter Vollmer, from HPE, the proven framework “delivers solutions much faster and with less effort. SAFe defines the roles, teams, activities, and artifacts to apply Lean and Agile principles at enterprise scale and provides outstanding training and coaching materials to increase our chance of success.”  Given COVID-19, business agility isn’t an option; it’s an imperative. And ensuring that the SAFe Release Train departs the station and arrives at its future stops on time is a notion that should be embraced by all employees. And with today’s technological tools, PI (Program Increment) Planning can be conducted effectively in the current remote workforce environment.

Acronyms Galore

There are so many acronyms being utilized in the current state of affairs: PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and PPP (Paycheck Protection Plan), and our contribution is PPT. This doesn’t stand for PowerPoint, but rather for People, Process, and Technology. At iTrellis, everything done on behalf of our clients revolves around these three entities. Within our paradigm, PPT serves as the hallmarks and lynchpins for how we prepare and conduct consulting services throughout our client engagements.  

While incorporating all of the above Agile practices helps to build resiliency, attitude is also essential. We can and will persevere. As Indra Nooyi recently stated, “Yes, be nostalgic about the past. Be very realistic about the present. Educate yourself thoroughly. Be optimistic about the future. Human ingenuity is limitless.”

Everything will be okay
"Well, Sunday's gonna come anyway" as wisely stated by John Krasinski's friend's father

About iTrellis: iTrellis is a boutique custom software development, systems integration, and SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) transformational consulting company and solution provider, experiencing rapid growth.  Our clients are forward-thinking companies around the globe. iTrellis consists of amazing team members who greatly help companies achieve amazing success within these realms: people, process and technology.