Mark Coster – Agile Kaliedoscope

My notes from Mark’s talk at DPM:UK 2014.

  • Head of Delivery, Thoughtworks.
  • Worked on BBC News, Guardian
  • Worked with agile for many years

When first starting with agile I really had to convince people.
Now it’s more about what flavour of agile are you using?

New hires –
Technical competance, social
Work exclusively on client site in Europe

We adapt to clients. Main aim is to shorten feedback loop.

35 projects happening across Europe at present.

Once you’ve built something how do you get it live?
Automate operations
CI: Jenkins & Go
Automated testing

Most of our projects moving from 1-2 wk iterations to On Demand (kanan style, just in time).

As you learn you become “agile” rather than “Agile”
Start somewhere, pick one methodology and try the practises out
We think you need a mix of extreme programming (automated testing, pair programming) + a methodology (Scrum, Kaban, etc)

Great thing about agile is many feedback loops

Lean startup: Build, Measure (metrics), Learn

Agile embraces change

All about using my tools to paint a clear picture of what’s going on
Agile amplifies communication channels

BBC News redesign project. 100s of people on project.
BBC wanted to bring agile into organisationn
Break requirements into small chunks that could be started and finished within two weeks
Measure progress via weekly iterations
Project was a bit late, had very good feedback from journalists, seamless launch

Fast feedback helps us change approach

As teams we have to adapt and evolve to our environment.

Be brave




Q. How do you sell QA/automation time to clients?

This is difficult for us

– Clients often think we do this to benefit ourselves, we really do it to benefit them
– Multiple releases many times a day
– Talk about the benefits, all about quality
– Always agree on paper, hard to sell this at times

Q. With pure agile how do you structure client payments?

– A lot of projects are time and materials
– Everyone has a budget they are willing to spend and have an idea of what they want delivered
– We do have fixed price contracts, sometimes fixed quote – we put a lot of effort in to deal with change (new stuff comes in, equivalent stuff has to come out)