Scrum/XP in a COBOL/Mainframe World

Executive Summary:
A small company wanted to transition their entire development department to Agile. It was an easy sell to the applications people, harder to the maintenance people. The ones in the middle were the mainframe programmers.
In this particular case, I was pleasantly surprised to see interest, even enthusiasm, at tackling a project using the Agile framework even though the systems involved were RPG, COBOL and CICS.

Challenges to standard Agile practices

  • Presence of a lot of specialists, where there was a steep learning curve to cross training
  • Automated testing considered by many to be impossible. ¬†Short time frame of project didn’t allow for more investigation.
  • Small team caused some delays due to specialist skills and absences.

Key Takeaways:

  • The pre-Agile estimate of work was 2 years elapsed time in this highly multi-tasked environment. The Agile project was completed in less than 3 months thanks to a focused effort.
  • Thanks to executive story pruning by the Product Owner and Sponsor, the product shipped earlier than even the original Agile estimated release date.
  • Management had a greater knowledge of status without having status reports simply by attending the daily stand-ups.
  • Using Scrum and some XP practices worked out well.
  • Earlier ROI
  • Everyone had fun doing it.

Full Case Study:

 

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