In the beginning...

Em Campbell-Pretty
Apr 03, 2013

It's been two years since I started my Agile journey in earnest. At the time I was the business sponsor of a significant capital investment being made by Corporate into the delivery of a true enterprise data warehouse. As the business owner of the program, I owned the business requirements, but very little else. Projects in this domain followed a  traditional waterfall style SDLC. The business produced a business requirements document and the IT teams then produced a raft of other documentation (such as a requirements definition document, a system requirements specification etc.) and about 6 months later all this documentation was passed to an off-shore vendor for build and test. Another 6 months would pass and then the business would be asked to acceptance test the deliverables and the endless negoitation about what was and was not in scope would start.

While I had been reading about Agile for a couple of years, the opportunity to put it into practise didn't come until our ongoing dissatisfaction with our existing development processes led to the realisation that to be successful we needed to do something different. This burning platform when coupled with the organisational push towards agile gave us the ideal launching pad to transform how data warehousing projects were delivered in the organisation. This is not to say Agile is a magic bullet, rather it gave us permission to change the focus and tone of the conversation.

While our first agile projects were far from perfect, they showed promise, so we continue to launch new projects and spin up new Agile teams every couple of months. One year into our Agile journey, we had a number of teams across a number of projects but we were struggling to make Agile work at scale. It was around this time that I read Dean Leffingwell's Scaling Software Agility and became convinced establishing an Agile Release Train was the answer to our scaling issues.

As fortune had it, within months of reading Dean's book, I was offered the opportunity to lead the data warehouse software delivery organisation. And so for the last year I have had the great privilege to work with an exceptional team of people and together we have transformed the "laughing stock of IT" into what I believe is a world class Agile Data Warehousing team, or as we know it the EDW Release Train.

This blog will chronicle our adventures...

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