In our essay, Can Agile (SAFe) Be Interfaced With Waterfall? we identified three major areas that had to be addressed so that a scenario of multiple inter-related programs with different management approaches didn’t turn into a train wreck. Lack of transparency causes misunderstandings and conflict. However, generating transparency has a cost.  Finding the right balance that fits cost and contract constraints is a goal for every complicated program. Generating transparency requires a specific set of behaviors. Several of the most common techniques for generating transparency include:

  1. The Contract – Specifically state what can and should be shared in the contract.  Specifically stating what can be shared will reduce the level of friction when one program asks for information from the other.  Ideas of information that should be shareable include, risks, issues, plans, architecture, plans and functional code (important for testing and continuous builds which can be leveraged for synchronization).  Items excluded from sharing in the contract will remain opaque and will be driven by opinions.
  2. Jointly Plan – The program and technical leaders from each program need to attend each other’s planning sessions.  Attendance will increase awareness of the flow of work, surface risk and allow them to jointly ROAM risks, and to communicate dependencies in real time.
  3. Joint Ceremonies – All agile technique have periodic meetings (often called ceremonies).  The ceremonies typically include planning, sync meetings, demonstrations and retrospectives.  These meetings provide a platform for sharing information which reduces risk from misunderstandings and assumptions.
  4. Joint Requirements and Design Workshops – Gathering requirements together and deciding design approaches will provide a platform for learning the culture and personalities of the people in both programs as well developing a common understanding of the problem they are solving.
  5. Design Patterns – Adopting design patterns and other standards provide a common language and approach so that both programs can share information and understanding.

Steps two – four are relatively simple steps that both programs can take to establish a platform for transparency and then begin acting on that platform. In almost every scenario, step one: the contract, is the elephant in the room. If the contract is not written to facilitate transparency there is no way on heaven or earth that it will happen.