Posts Tagged ‘Agile’

Moving Towards Continuous Delivery One Commit at a Time

Amazon Web Services sign at conference

Last month, I attended the 2016 Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference with Jed Carr, TeraThink’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 TeraThink 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

This 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 TeraThink, 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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Heck of a Hack

HR Director Blair Todd briefing the Dominion hackathon teams

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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Leveraging Open Source and the Cloud for Your Open ECM Platforms

We’ve been talking about how to leverage open APIs to connect content-centric solutions together. The goal is to leverage the success from deploying point solutions without creating the numerous silos that typically accompany that approach.

The question that arises is what kind of platform providers are incented to create and maintain open APIs? Any vendor can claim to have an open API. Unless supporting those APIs long-term is core to their business model, those APIs may vanish or become closed in the future. While any enterprise content management (ECM) vendor may have open APIs, open source and software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors are the ones whose business depends on open APIs.

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The Open ECM Platform

There has been talk of creating enterprise content management (ECM) platforms for years. They typically do not live up to the hype or expectations. The upfront investment typically required dooms most projects before they deploy their first business solution. It has reached the point where if an organization wants to implement ECM I typically walk away if I cannot persuade them otherwise.

That doesn’t mean that the need for ECM platforms don’t exist. Given the ever increasing creation of content today, it is even more important to be able to rapidly solve content-centric problems without creating numerous content silos. What is needed is an alternate approach to gaining the benefits of an ECM platform without forcing a big-bang approach to ECM with its large upfront investment.

The answer is to pick an ECM system the same way an organization picks a database system. Choose based upon the system’s ability to scale and meet the needs of the organization. An open API (application programming interface) allows the exposure of content services that can be used to add content capabilities to other applications and to build new solutions. Being open allows an organization to move forward without worrying information being bound to that system forever.

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Stop the Closed Content Silos

It starts simply enough. Your company needs a system for managing its contracts process. The finance department goes out and purchases a contracts system. Being forward thinking, they pick one that is cloud-based so they don’t have to maintain the infrastructure. Things are going well until…

  • The ability to track supporting documents from within the system is identified shortly after launch
  • After finance loads supporting documents, those documents are now stored in multiple locations
  • Nobody knows which version is the current version any longer
  • Groups outside of finance need access to the contracts but licenses are limited
  • Contracts need to be linked to their CRM and ERP records but nobody can figure out how

The contracts process may be working well but information is trapped in a system that is closed-off from the rest of the organization. The only way to have information everywhere it is needed is to duplicate it which leads to complications in managing information.

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USDA Issue Management and Training Awarded to TeraThink

Reston, VA – January 12, 2016 – At the end of last year, TeraThink was awarded a new contract by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide complementary financial management services to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), Associate Chief Financial Officer for Financial Systems (ACFO-FS).  TeraThink will be providing expert level support for incident management as well as SAP-specific training with the ultimate goal of creating operational improvements and efficiencies within the Financial Management Modernization Initiative (FMMI) environment. The TeraThink team will deliver superior software development and effective training resources with proven implementation methods including SAP ASAP, Agile, and traditional waterfall programs. Todd Barber, Managing Principal with TeraThink said, “This award is a testament to the excellent value brought to USDA by the TeraThink Team over the last few years.  We are extremely proud to continue our ongoing support at OCFO and look forward to the further development of their people and systems.”

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TeraThink Awarded Contract with DoJ, Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys

TeraThink was awarded a prime contract to provide System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) support services to EOUSA for their budgeting and payroll forecasting system, USABudget. The solicitation was released on GSA Schedule IT70, open to all businesses (large and small) on the vehicle.  TeraThink proposed an approach that integrated traditional project management activities, including project planning and scheduling, with Agile principles for SDLC execution.

Making the Jump: A Journey From Waterfall to Agile

I used to be part of the “non-believers” when it comes to agile software development.  I’ve since converted to an agile evangelist of sorts, and appreciate the significant benefits the agile approach has to offer.  While my own conversion was not so easy, I’ll explain the transformation, what I consider to be the key program management benefits associated with the agile approach, and a few challenges that I think still remain.

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