Federal government organizations by design are centralized-hierarchical structures built to manage and maintain a stable operating environment. Thus, rapid change tends to go against one of the fundamental characteristics of the organization. So how does a small team within a large hierarchical government organization reconcile practicing the agile methodology against the business practices inherent in a governmental department?
This talk will describe how the United States Geological Survey-National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (USGS-NGTOC) adopted and adapted the agile methodology for its development teams, while at the same time began moving to open source solutions in place of proprietary ones. It will open with an overview of the whole organization’s transformation initiative and experience, followed by a description of how one team navigated the challenges of operating within the framework of the Federal government while undergoing its own Agile transformation. It will present a scenario that describes the methods used by the project manager in eliciting product owners to engage in the team’s Agile processes, clearly identify requirements, and remove (or at least mitigate) organizational impediments. It will close with an overview of the open source solutions that the team has implemented through examples screenshots, discussions, and observations.
Even though this talk is specifically focused on a government example, it is very applicable to companies with hierarchical structures and senior management who are not fully supportive of, nor fully understanding how to implement the agile methodology and take advantage of open source resources.
Scott Owens is a Geographer with the United States Geological Survey – National Technical Operations Center (USGS-NGTOC). Scott’s been with the USGS since June 2015 and serves as the technical lead and project manager for a team of software developers providing business systems support to The National Map (TNM) and business intelligence support to the National Geospatial Program (NGP).
Scott applies the Agile Methodology towards leading his team of developers in researching, analyzing and creating technology solutions for requirements related to transactional data exchange, change management, data validation, inventory management, geospatial visualization of existing and future product inventories, and user interfaces to facilitate Program decision making. He works directly with product owners and stakeholders to identify and understand systems requirements and long-term developmental goals to ensure software and systems developers deliver the desired capabilities.
Prior to joining the USGS Scott served in the US Army until his retirement in 2015 after 31+ years of service, retiring at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Five. Warrant Officers are the Army’s technical experts in their chosen specialties and Scott’s specialty was in Geospatial Information Systems.