We are continually reminded that it's all about Agile and SAFe, the ability for teams to move quickly and dynamically, trying new approaches and bending the rules. But what happens when you can't do this?
Most projects allow a degree of flexibility, but some are tightly controlled; imagine working on an ATC system (Air Traffic Control) and introducing new code in a live system. Get it right, and the airports and airlines will be lifelong fans. Get it wrong, and the results could be catastrophic.
So how do you introduce Agile into the ultra-conservative aviation industry? In their talk at our Tools4AgileTeams conference in December, Nadia Posatini and Peter Pedross gave us a glimpse into the world of project management when dealing with live mission-critical projects. They addressed this difficult quandary which at first glance is at odds with Agile and SAFe methodologies.
With any new procedure or workflow, problems may lurk hidden for many months before the right conditions arise and disaster strikes. Professionals in aviation circles and accident investigation departments refer to a coming together of errors as the Swiss Cheese model. Imagine many blocks of Swiss Cheese (that's the cheese with the large holes) stacked back to back, and through a pure random coincidence, the various holes line up, allowing you to see right through the entire block. Well, that's the phenomenon they are describing. Many systems and workflows have their own checks and balances, but when one error slips past multiple sets of failsafes in different sequential processes, you have big problems that could lead to catastrophe.
When the stakes are high
Given what could go wrong, and after a detailed risk analysis, the team decided on an unusual model or process that would slowly evolve after many rounds of refining and testing. Nadia and Peter delve into the techniques and thought processes used to develop this specialist approach. And as they explain, it was more than just traditional project management and coding. Their approach also had to comply with Swiss federal laws and EU regulations.
Compliance Scaled agility in regulated environments
This talk is a fascinating look into how a form of Agile can be implemented into something as mission-critical as the aviation industry. So please ensure your seat belt is fastened, your seat is in the upright position, and your tray table is stowed. Then, enjoy our inflight move, Skyguide - Establishing SAFe in a highly regulated environment.