CA Technologies Ryan Polk Discusses CA's Agile Management Portfolio

Posted 3/14/2016 12:51:15 PM by STUART PARKERSON, Publisher Emeritus

CA Technologies Ryan Polk Discusses CA
Ryan Polk, VP of Product Management at CA Technologies, reached out to us to discuss CA’s approach to agile management and provide insight into the products and services available to help companies adopt an agile methodology. 

ADM: How does the Agile Management portfolio that CA introduced help the enterprise succeed in the application economy? 

Polk: The app economy is all about delighting customers with faster delivery of high-quality and high-value solutions. Agile Management helps companies adopt a mindset that embraces change to capitalize on market opportunities faster than competitors. 

Agile Management from CA leverages the agile and lean principles that accelerate delivery of high-value solutions to customers. It integrates agile software and transformation consulting, giving customers the tools and expertise they need for strategic decision-making, adaptive portfolio management and fast, predictable delivery.
With the combined software and coaching expertise delivered via CA Agile Management, organizations free up resources for growth, build customer feedback loops that foster innovation and become more effective enterprises. This portfolio has ultimately helped companies realize 4X improvements in productivity, higher profits and greater customer satisfaction.

ADM: What can business leaders and organizations expect to gain out of the Agile Management portfolio? 

Polk: Only CA provides an end-to-end ecosystem of tools and coaching expertise for strategic adaptive planning, agile portfolio management and agile delivery. 

Agile Management is about creating an Agile Business, going beyond agile development and into the portfolio and business levels. Business leaders and organizations gain the ability to respond faster to their market threats and opportunities, which in turn create better market valuation, market share and brand recognition. That’s the end goal, and we approach it in a digestible way that makes it easier to deliver on that promise incrementally and sustainably.

ADM: What are the obstacles that impede a company’s ability to successfully adopt agility? 

Polk: The biggest obstacle is the business operating system in which most companies live. These business operating systems are characterized by command and control behaviors, large up-front requirements documents, project-based funding, detailed estimates, long release timeframes, and a focus on maximizing resource utilization. 

These traditional concepts served us well when the pace of business was slower and customers were used to infrequent release schedules, but they no longer serve organizational needs in the app economy where customers are more demanding, and competition can come from smaller startups. 

People are doing their best but they are impaired by the system in which they work. Recognizing that this is a system issue is the first step. Then educating key leaders in the agile mindset is the start of addressing it. We’ve seen incredible results where leaders see the light; there is a great article from Steve Denning discussing the ‘aha’ moment leaders need to have to ignite agility in their organization. 

ADM: In order to become agile, what steps should organizations consider when making the transition? 

Polk: With years of experience helping organizations become agile, CA has been able to codify a proven approach with 5 key steps:

1. Pick a tangible and worthy reason to change. Agile transformations are no small feat so organizations better be sure they know why they are doing it.

2. Charter a team of passionate players. Instead of embedding coaches to do the work, we provide the fastest path to self-reliance. Our sustainable approach is to “teach to fish instead of feeding”. Our coaches enable a small group of leaders that drive the transformation, so customers actually own their transformation. 

3. Empower the team to lead the transformation. We then train, coach and support that transformation team. 

4. Commit and act on the right next step. We have a bias for action. We don’t do training for months. We provide the right amount of training to quickly move into action, so customers practice the art of learning and adapting from those learnings.

5. Inspect and adapt. The traditional mindset needs to change to a learning mindset where organizations embrace change and constantly learn. This is key to building an agile business.

ADM: How successful have the components of the Agile Management portfolio been for companies? 

Polk: Customers are using the Agile Management portfolio to gain an understanding of funding, investments, resources, and execution across all delivery models.
The integration between CA Agile Central and CA Project & Portfolio Management helps customers effectively balance agility and governance by connecting the work of coordinated agile teams to the enterprise portfolio. Customers can deliver on portfolio investments faster and optimize budgets and resources for maximum return on investment.
With Agile Management, customers can make better portfolio steering decisions by gaining business visibility into agile delivery status. Business leaders get valuable insights from across their entire portfolio to make better decisions on how products are being executed, what’s working from their customer’s perspective, and what strategy might need to be fine-tuned.

In addition, CA Agile Transformation Consulting has helped hundreds of companies start or evolve their agile journey to become more adaptive to changes from a leadership mindset to agile teams that serve business goals. 

CA Agile Central and CA Flowdock are built to support scaling agile practices. CA is now the top partner for the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), the most dominant framework organizations are adopting to expand agility beyond development teams.

A wide variety of organizations are featured on our agile transformation customer list, underscoring the reality that all industries are experiencing disruption in the app economy.

ADM: What are some examples of customers that have begun to derive results from agile adoption?

Polk: We are capturing successes in our Customer Spotlight blog, which includes stories from customers developing clinical solutions like Elekta, customers in the telecom industry like SwissCom, and insurance companies like Physicians Mutual. 

ADM: What role does CA’s Project & Portfolio Management (CA PPM) play in Agile Management?

Polk: CA PPM helps organizations optimize their overall strategic plans based on market, financial and business-driven criteria. It tracks agile development costs within the context of overall technology spending, so customers can more effectively derive maximum value from existing budgets and resources. They get immediate and actionable insights into all product, application and project investments, while staying connected with agile development groups. 

As a result, organizations stick to business strategy and speed time to market. In addition, they more effectively evaluate product investments, identify resource bottlenecks, analyze cost overruns and eliminate misaligned features or projects.

CA PPM plays a key role in helping customers easily transition to becoming agile. Becoming agile is a journey, not a flip of the switch. It’s often overwhelming to customers who can get paralyzed by such a seemingly daunting task. But CA PPM and its integration with CA Agile Central help customers incrementally adopt agility. As some projects evolve to an agile delivery method, others can still be using traditional project management techniques. 

From a portfolio perspective, customers don't really care what project methodology is used. They just want to see results, so CA PPM provides an overarching view of the portfolio plans regardless of the delivery methodology. It tracks project status across both agile and non-agile projects. CA PPM’s strong financial support also supplements agile delivery with the governance large enterprises need to manage their investments.

ADM: What role does agile coaching play? How important is that kind of expertise to agile adoption?

Polk: There is such a misunderstanding of agile in the industry. We see customers claim to be agile when they start doing standups. The dirty little secret about agile is that it is a whole lot more disciplined than the waterfall methodology, and getting the right practices in place is not something you get from a book. 

All that is to say that coaching is not only essential, but the wrong coaching is actually very detrimental. The right coaching is the one that ensures agile teams adopt agile in alignment with what their business needs from their delivery. Such coaching drives predictability to make better portfolio decisions based on empirical evidence, delighted customers by getting frequent feedback and informing portfolio leaders about their learnings, and faster time to market – delivering value in small increment to grab market share faster. That type of coaching takes role-specific training (including leaders), expert facilitation, multi-team planning events to foster business-IT collaboration. This is CA’s unique differentiator.

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About the author: STUART PARKERSON, Publisher Emeritus

Stuart Parkerson has an extensive background in niche technology publishing.

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