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Telstra Agile DW Team (Small)

It has been far too long since my last post, and frankly I’ve been up to my ears in alligators in my new role as director of Agile Analytics at ThoughtWorks and haven’t had enough time to write. So, if you’re still out there following this blog, I appreciate your patience. I have a lot of topics in the queue to write about and I’ll be making that a higher priority in the coming months.

Meanwhile, I’d like to tell you about a wonderful experience I had in June in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Over the months prior to my trip I had virtually met Em Campbell-Pretty (@prettyagile) on the Agile Data Warehousing LinkedIn forum. Em leads the data warehousing group at Telstra, one of Australia’s largest telecommunications and media companies. I can’t quite figure out whether to refer to Em as the DW director or manager. You see she is the epitome of a servant leader, and titles don’t seem to matter much to her. I know this because I got to meet Em in person when she invited me to visit Telstra’s data warehousing group when I was in Melbourne.  I got to see what they were doing and participate in a discussion about what is working well and where challenges lie. The following week Em and I were both speaking at the Agile Australia 2013 conference where we became even better friends.

I was very impressed by what I saw and learned while I was there. This is probably the most well-scaled Agile Data Warehousing group I’ve ever observed, and they are still getting better. Em’s group is composed of 6 DBT (design, build, test) teams working across approximately 24 separate projects as well as an offshore product support & maintenance team – all working on a shared code base. That’s a lot of moving parts that need to be in sync. They are using aspects of Scrum, XP, Kanban, and Lean development, and they have been very successful at adapting these methods to data warehousing and business intelligence and it is working very well.

One of the most notable techniques Em’s group has adopted is the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) developed by Dean Leffingwell and described in Dean’s book, Scaling Software Agility. Now Dean is not a data warehousing guy but, like many great agile techniques, his SAFe adapts very nicely to the complexities of data warehousing programs that consist of multiple teams sharing the same code-base. I urge you to read Em’s recent blog post, A Perspective on the Scaled Agile Framework, which summarizes her teams’ journey toward the effective scaling of agile data warehousing and BI. It’s working extremely well at Telstra, and it might just work for you.

And while you’re on Em’s blog site, read her other posts about her teams’ agile DW journey. It’s a good story. I look forward to my next trip to Melbourne.

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I fear that, “agile as the latest magic bullet” has crossed the chasm, but that “agile as a different way of behaving” has not."
- Ken Collier
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