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 Executive Forum Breakfast 

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This is a Government-only, participative, not-for-attribution session designed to examine the use of agile methods in acquisition programs across the Federal government.  Attendees are encouraged to bring their observations, questions and experiences that would add to the richness of the discussion.

The session will be led by two senior researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, Mary Ann Lapham and SuZ Miller of the SEI.

Mary Ann Lapham, Senior Member of the Technical Staff
Mary Ann Lapham, a Principal Engineer at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) of Carnegie Mellon University, is the technical lead for SEI’s agile in acquisition research, focused on identifying and addressing barriers to adopting Agile practices in DoD and other government settings.  She is also the Space Sector lead within the Software Solutions Division, Client Technical Solutions Directorate.  Prior to her coming to the SEI in 2004, Ms. Lapham spent 30 years in technical and program management roles on programs of variable size and complexity.  She also is a PMP and CSM. Bio

Suzanne Garcia-Miller, Senior Member of Technical Staff
SuZ Miller is a Principal Researcher in the Client Technical Solutions Directorate at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute.  Her current research focuses on the adoption barriers faced by highly regulated organizations (like US government organizations) that are taking up Agile and lean principles.  While at the SEI, she has also researched systems of systems governance issues, technology transition, and process improvement--particularly development and implementation of CMM types of models-- and co-authored CMMI Survival Guide:  Just Enough Process Improvement, which provides methods and decision approaches for organizational improvement. She spent 12 years before the SEI in multiple technology insertion, quality engineering, and improvement-related roles at Lockheed Missile and Space Co.  Bio

Mary Ann and SuZ are co-leaders of the Agile acquisition adoption research at the SEI.  For synopsis of research and links to agile papers click here.

Executive Session Description

In this senior government acquisition leaders executive session, you will have access both to the knowledge of your peers who are using Agile methods, as well as the observations of researchers at the SEI who have been studying the adoption of Agile and lean methods in the DoD and federal settings for over five years. 

Using an informal discussion format the workshop leaders will share common acquisition challenges and potential solutions to adopting Agile methods in DoD acquisition settings.  They will facilitate open discussion about questions that audience members bring to the session.

Attendees will build a network of government executives who are facing the challenges and opportunities that Agile methods provide, and will take away strategies that have worked in various government settings for addressing common adoption issues. 

Agile principles require a disciplined structured approach to be successful.  Agencies using agile successfully do not throw away the rule book and allow developers to do what they please. 

The session will examine what agile principles really are and how to align them with agency processes to assure successful adoption. 

The SEI Readiness and Fit (RFA) model will be used to help you assess your agency's business practices and organizational climate. Topics include relative estimation, backlog control, and alignment of agile principles with oversight mechanisms. 


7:30 AM Breakfast

8:00 AM



The Executive’s Overview of Agile in Government

Mary Ann Lapham and SuZ Miller, SEI

Topics to be covered include:

  • Agile in Government: What Works and What Doesn’t
  • Aligning agile with your agency culture
  • What do do, and what to avoid
  • The term “agile” has baggage
  • Agile is often equated to “scrum”
  • Executive communication for Agile - how to bridge the communications gap between developers/program managers and executive program oversight
  • Why pilot projects are not appropriate
  • Senior sponsor and roles for middle management
  • Myths about agile –
    • agile development is undisciplined,
    • agile teams do not plan,
    • agile development is not predictable,
    • agile development does not scale,
    • agile development is just another Fad
  • Selecting the right tool set – automated testing, environment, TDD, architecture, modeling, program management
  • Agile implementation cuts across all disciplines associated with acquisition

8:45 AM



SuZ Miller, SEI

A quick check to see if your agency is really doing agile, or is even ready for agile.

Application of the SEI Readiness and Fit (RFA) assessment informally to help attendees benchmark their organizations in an informal self-assessment

9:30 AM

Panel Discussion: What Did we Hear?

Mary Ann Lapham, SEI

Attendees are invited to offer their views of what was covered and how it might be applied to their jobs and organizations, including where the real successes and obstacles are.

10:00 AM Adjourn


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