• Working to Innovate at the Agile 2017 Conference

    When all of the best and brightest thinkers in the agile arena get together in one place, there’s no doubt you are going to learn a lot from one another and have fun. This year’s Agile2017 conference in Orlando was no exception. Great breadth of topics that loaded me up with ideas to bring back to our Dominion clients and our company itself. I want to share a few of the areas that top my list.

    Making Time for Innovation is Good for Everyone

    The innovation theme was prevalent in many conversations and areas, and there is a good reason – because it is important. Innovation is how people, products, industries, etc. get better. Allowing our developers, engineers and leaders the space to innovate will build higher performing teams and organizations. I spent Open Spaces time with some great agilists hearing about the innovative ideas they have implemented at their respective companies. This has fueled my fire to get this going even more at home.

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  • Delivering Value Using Layer Cake User Stories

    Value is delivered when you enjoy all the layers of a cake, or user storyHere at Dominion, we are currently building an internal application that will allow us to better track new business opportunities. Simultaneously, we are exposing more of our staff to agile and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) principles. Among the many concepts we are trying to inculcate in our team is the “layer cake” user story.

    The layer cake idea has been around for over a decade. However, I’ve found on nearly all agile engagements that I’ve been on, teams either discard this idea early in the project or completely ignore it from the outset. It is up to the triumvirate of the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Business Analyst to ensure that the scrum team writes user stories in such a manner that the outcome of each story is working software that delivers tangible value to the end user. (more…)

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  • Working With An Inexperienced Product Owner

    Collaborating can make every team member more effectiveYou’re an experienced Scrum Master beginning a new project.  You meet with your Product Owner (PO) for the first time and hear him or her say any or all of the following:

    • “I’ve never worked in this role before.”
    • “I’ll do my best to be on-site as much as possible.”
    • “I’ve completed Certified Scrum Master training, but I’ve never applied it in practice.”
    • “I’m the Product Owner for your team, and nine others.”

    Your spidey sense is now tingling.  You are going to be working with an inexperienced and/or overextended PO.  Fear not, however.  Here are some methods and remedies you can apply to get your PO up to speed.

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  • Bring Order to Uncertainty with A4

    Dominion Consulting's Agile A4 LogoHave you ever participated in a project where you felt there was no direction, no path forward?  Have you asked yourself, How can we apply a process to our decision making? Here at Dominion Consulting , we had experienced this numerous times with clients and within our own internal projects. Our experience always led us to a solution but we wanted a better, more consistent, way forward.

    Drawing from our efforts, we captured a series of best practices and lessons learned. Then, we created a model that would identify, assess, and road map a “problem solution.” We saw a need for a fixed period, firm fixed price assessment methodology that would provide our nonprofit customers cost certainty. After substantive development, we created a diagnostic framework that we have successfully applied internally and externally with our customers.

    We introduce you to the Assembling, Assessing, Aligning, and Acting Diagnostic Framework. Or more simply, A4. (more…)

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  • Does Adding Definition of Ready to Your Team Agreements Help?

    In agile, a story is defined as ready, sent through a sprint, and then marked as done when it becomes part of a product incrementA few years ago, I started introducing Definition of Ready to help alleviate a common challenge I was seeing. User stories were coming into the sprint with little information and weren’t making it to Done. The team spent more time talking to the Product Owner about what they wanted than developing it.

    As an agile enthusiast, I was aware of the latest updates to Scrum guidelines and introduced Definition of Ready thinking this will solve our problem! I met with the team, setup a few guidelines as reminders of what should be in a story, we were set!  Over time, through retrospectives, these guidelines morphed into something I started to realize no longer made us an agile team.

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  • Moving Towards Continuous Delivery One Commit at a Time

    Last month, I attended the 2016 Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference with Jed Carr, Dominion Consulting’s Director of IT.  I went primarily with a DevOps focus, trying to expand our continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) capabilities by picking up some best practices by a leader in the market.

    While I did attend some excellent break-out sessions, the specifics of each could bear it’s own blog post, there was a singular idea that came up during every session, keynote, or chat around the coffee pot.

    Software moves faster than ever.

    Successful software delivery is no longer measured in years, quarters, or months. We measure it in weeks, days, and hours.  According to Puppet and their 2016 State of DevOps Report, high-performing IT organizations deployed 200 times more frequently than their low performing counterparts. So if you’re an organization pushing out quarterly releases, you’re trying to keep pace with the front-runners pushing out twice daily.

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  • Enterprise Applications – Where Will Our Future Take Us?

    Drawing idea board of business strategy process of which Enterprise Applications is a crucial partIt is hard to believe that Dominion Consulting is approaching its 14th year as an organization.  It all started for some of us in 2003, when two Enterprise Resource Planning experts decided to build a company based on SAP, and its rapid growth in the Federal Government.  Fast forward to 2013, a core capability was our SAP expertise and rapid growth into the Momentum Financials arena.  Now, as 2017 begins, our Enterprise Applications solution area is at a crossroads. We are excited about the new direction it is taking us.

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  • Agile Hits Its Stride

    Agile is about continuously learning and working to improveThis year marked the 15-year anniversary of the writing of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Today, I can’t help but marvel at the impact this collection of simple, yet elegantly stated principles continue to have, especially here in Washington, D.C.. Agile has not only changed how we build working software, it has fundamentally changed how we understand our organizations and how we define the business value we produce. With agile, many of us have learned new approaches to prioritizing our work at an enterprise scale, how we can organize our businesses, and even how we can build deeper relationships in the process.  Agile development has sparked a new wave of innovation, especially in the Federal market and it’s incredible to think what 2017 will bring.

    For those who are doing it successfully, being agile requires the adoption of both an agile-mindset and the incorporation of new software architectures and delivery practices. At Dominion Consulting, we recognize that our clients have very specific needs and objectives for their implementation of agile solutions. We work closely with each client to provide their desired results.  Agile is, of course, not without its challenges.  Whether it is initial adoption, sustaining agility at scale, or breaking into a more effective CI/CD model, these challenges are significant. I’d like to share a few key observations and strategies that have helped our clients hit their stride with agile.

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  • Making Information Management Work in Our Digital World

    These filing cabinets have a lot of information to digitizeOne of our core solutions at Dominion Consulting is Information Management. It is a term that we, and the industry, use to encompass a large collection of skills and expertise centered around content and information. Information Management is also a critical part of everything organizations do every day.

    How do we define that collection of skills? Stated from a high level:

    Information Management (IM) is a strategy for the coordinated management of all information throughout an organization, allowing for people and systems to find and use information from within any business context.

    The goal is to provide people the right information at the right time and be confident that nothing is being overlooked. We make sure that information flows as needed between every system and process. Whether we are talking about governance, content, or digital transformation, IM is at the heart of every project and sets up long-term success for our clients.

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  • Heck of a Hack

    Earlier this month, we held our first company hackathon in our new office. It proved to be a great day and a tremendous learning experience for our company and particularly all of the employees who got the chance to participate. I had the opportunity to help facilitate the day’s activities. I thought take a moment to reflect on what I thought was a very successful event.

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