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December 21, 2021

As enterprises around the world embark on the journey of digital transformation, going agile becomes a prerequisite to compete in the global market. Hence, enterprises are on the lookout for a product to manage both agile program portfolio planning and continuous integration (CI) with delivery management. In an agile setup, it is important for enterprises to manage epics, features, and user stories, and track them from demand to deployment. Simultaneously, enterprises need to manage some programs in the traditional setup as well. Hence, the popularity of such integrated products or platforms is on the rise using which all agile and traditional programs and portfolios can be managed efficiently.

The primary focus being value delivery with every release, market analysts predict that the adoption of enterprise-wide agile transformation will need an enterprise agile product or platform comprising of value stream management and value stream delivery management. Value stream management should include features to support funding investments for large initiatives, and to break down large initiatives into capabilities, epics, and so on. Value stream delivery should provide the required integration to the entire delivery ecosystem of CI/CD tools. The enterprise agile platform should also support multiple agile product and program portfolios.  

Automation product capabilities

The basic capabilities required in these agile and DevOps products or platforms should:

• Enable multimodal options like traditional lifecycle management and agile program portfolio planning

• Support the planning of large initiatives, capabilities, epics, features, and user stories

• Manage program roadmaps

• Plan and track all releases and iterations

• Manage dependencies between backlog items

• Estimate and prioritize any of the above entities

• Manage the complete lifecycle from demand to deployment

• Support multiple agile ways of working like scrum, Kanban, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), and such

• Support both cloud and on-premises options

• Integrate seamlessly with tools for continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment

• Provide configurable dashboards and reporting capabilities

• Enable collaboration, use of documentation attachments, and search facility

User expectations

The product should enable any stakeholder in the enterprise to manage ideas and generate demand requests from the same. It should allow portfolio managers and programs managers to manage multiple agile programs and portfolios; agile program managers to create and manage program backlogs, roadmaps, strategic themes, and value streams. Release managers should be able to plan releases and iterations by fetching items from program backlog into the release backlog, while the team should be allowed to schedule sprints and fetch items into the sprint backlog.

In addition, the platform should enable the deconstruction of value streams hierarchically into epics, features, and user stories for agile portfolio managers to identify and manage large initiatives. For enabling this, the product must earmark funds and manage budgets across strategic themes and value streams.

The product should enable the team to plan and track daily work, such that tasks at multiple levels roll up to appropriate programs and portfolios. While it should allow the development team to manage user stories, it should also help testers to create and manage test cases and defects.

The use of the product automation features should facilitate the agile mindset by moving away from traditional methods of delivery. Such automation increases throughput and reduces cycle time by allowing DevOps engineers to define build, test, and deploy stages, and job steps as a part of the CI/CD pipeline.

Agile thrives on active collaboration in which stakeholders actively share documents in support of any entity and discuss the details. The platform should create and maintain discussion threads and forums to encourage such collaborative development. It should provide configurable workflows to track appropriate approval of artifacts before the team consumes them.

It is important for the product to maintain audit trails for all entities, so that any changes, along with the respective date and timestamps, are traceable. Furthermore, there are several industry regulatory requirements that agile products need to comply with, like digital signature-based workflows, audit trails and such.

As an effective culmination of these varied requirements, enterprise stakeholders need strong KPIs and metrics-driven management of agile programs through configurable dashboards and reports. These should depict the accurate status of the daily work, and highlight the key information needed for corrective action. It is also imperative for the platform to provide analytics-based projections of future trends based on historical information.

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Varadharajan S has over 2.5 decades of vast experience in key leadership roles in customer engagement, delivery management, presales, and solutions for the TCS Telecom domain. For the last 10 years, he has been actively involved in TTG and TCS MasterCraft. He has managed TTG technology products and solutions, namely user activity integrator and cross enterprise collaboration (which were positioned for various accounts within the TCS CBO business unit). He also worked for TCS MasterCraft as a scrum manager for DevPlus. In addition to this, he handled OU enablement roles and positioned Jile and TCS MasterCraft products for multiple TCS accounts and customers and won business deals for TCS MasterCraft by building relationships with various TCS accounts. 

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