Tomorrow, I have the opportunity to speak at an Rally customer success tour at the Renaissance.  Tonight, I am reflecting on the leaders I have a privilege to serve with on the panel, Israel Gat, Jack Yang, Torsten Weirch, and Eric Huddleson.  These gentlemen are all significant leaders in the Austin Community and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

I’ve chosen the topic of “Agile in the Large” since the real power of Agile is evident when you turn loose the teams to run at their full speed in a self directed agile process.  Agile gets really interesting with development teams over 50, and also holds its most promise.  We believe that the best way to scale a team and continue to deliver successful software projects is to build it as a set of Agile teams.

Here’s few things we’ve learned along the way.  Interestingly enough, in comparing notes with the some of the development leaders at, it seems they have learned many of the same things.

  • There’s no replacement for a great technical leader in the Agile team – effective team leads are priceless.  You should always be growing and recruiting for leaders.
  • Great Product Owners are hard to find.  I have the pleasure to work with some of the best, but to scale the teams, you need more.
  • An Agile team must be composed of all the skills they need to produce a shippable result.  In our case, it is the product owner or manager, usability, dev team, QA team, and tech writers.
  • You run into problems when you depend on other parts of the organization that may not be Agile.  Just for an example, if you have a supporting organization that is still working on the Hero principle, or the waterfall process, there is going to be trouble.
  • Tool support is critical and everyone must adopt. For large teams, roll up views and quick reporting is absolutely essential.  Rally gives us this capability.
  • Test automation is absolutely key to keeping the product shippable.  As each sprint there is significant new functionality being delivered, the QA team must at the same time deliver automated tests so that doing regression testing onthe whole product is a swift process at the end of the release.  There’s just not time to regression test the whole product.

We have even been able to extend Agile to expose our feature teams to end clients through the Rally Agile tool.