Page 26 - Campus Technology, October/November 2018
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CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | October/November 2018
Greeves added that she has been impressed by how the agile movement has spread from the BI team to other areas of IT. The EIS team, the web services team, the Sharepoint services team and the library are all adopting the methodology.
“I am eager for us to build that mindset going forward — fully focusing on training and how we can have everybody in IT understand the terminology,” Greeves said. (For instance, an agile framework for iterative change is called a “scrum,” and the person leading the collaborative effort is called the “scrum master.”)
Last fall, GWU created an agile steering committee that included members from IT as well as individuals from other groups on campus who could help IT think about the best implementation practices. “We invited core mem- bers of the university community from both the academic and business sides, and representatives from the librar- ies,” Wolf said.
He admits that they occasionally struggle with getting effective participation from customers who have a lot of other irons in the fire. The people they deal with fall into two categories, Wolf noted: “The first is people we have dealt with before in this process and they pick it up quickly. The second involves customers we have not intersected with yet, so we have to help them prepare to work in an agile fashion. We do some training to introduce concepts and
the identification of roles. We have to know who we are going to sit down with most frequently and who has the authority to make decisions about building the backlog of what is important.”
Roljevic said that when agile was first introduced in busi- ness intelligence, the business people quickly realized the benefit of having direct input on how a dashboard might look. “At the beginning some people were skeptical, but they soon realized that every two weeks they would have an opportunity to shape that product. They also realized that this allows them to get their top priorities met and they can always re-prioritize. They can get the most important things done.”
Experimenting With Agile at Harvard
A few years ago, Harvard University Information Technol- ogy (HUIT) began experimenting with agile for a small number of key strategic programs that needed to deliver business value quickly through iteration. In e-mailed responses to questions from Campus Technology, several HUIT members made observations about their experience to date. “Agile better meets our need to show our work to our business partners and provides opportunities to make changes along the way — something that the waterfall method didn’t always allow for,” said Tamara Larsen, infra- structure technology services director, DevOps. “Once
The Web and Technology Services team in the Division of Student Affairs at California State University, Northridge has turned to agile in working with a few of its internal customers, according to Paul Schantz, the team’s director.
“We had a couple of customers we were building applications for using waterfall and it didn’t really work out. We were setting milestones that were not realistic,” he said. “We adopted agile for a couple of these projects serving students with disabilities, and the engagement with the customer is what ended up selling it. The people who were direct stakeholders were engaged every step of the way. They became the biggest cheerleaders for this process. It is a fundamental realignment of the IT-customer relationship. The customer is driving this.”
Schantz shared his team’s success with a university vice president, who was impressed enough to host multi-day training sessions for the whole campus. “That was to seed the idea across campus. We were under no illusions people would start adopting it en masse,” he said. But one department liked it so much that when they redesigned office space they created a ‘scrum room.’”
He cautioned, however, against IT leadership getting caught up in taking shortcuts or using buzzwords. “They will say agile, but for them it just means you are working faster vs. actually using it as a methodology for getting things done.”

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