Applying the Agile Methodology to the Modern Workplace

Next month, I have the pleasure of speaking at the VMware Anywhere Workplace Event. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the Agile Methodology and how it could apply to the Modern Workplace.

We will talk about what Agile is at a high-level, how it applies to the Modern Workplace, and some of the things that you can to ensure your Workspace ONE UEM environment is properly setup for Agile.

What is this Agile Thing All About?

The Agile Methodology is very common in the project management and software development space. Conceptually, the idea is that instead of releasing quarterly software updates we patch monthly to address bugs, implement new features, and help advance the platform more nimbly.

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The Agile Alliance is an excellent resource and they do a nice job talking about the 12 principles of Agile Methodology. Let’s highlight those 12 principles to give you a nice idea.

  1. The top priority is to promote customer happiness through early and continuous software releases.
  2. Requirements change frequently, even late in the development cycle, which is where Agile thrives to adapt for a competitive advantage.
  3. Software releases come frequently in weeks or months.
  4. Collaboration between business and IT.
  5. Building projects in a DevOps-like fashion delivering to motivated individuals and empowering them to be amazing.
  6. Building on a belief that face-to-face conversation drives information sharing.
  7. Effective software is the best KPI.
  8. Agile is only successful with sponsors, developers, and users able to maintain constant evolution for sustainable development.
  9. Agility requires a focus on technical excellence and good design.
  10. Simplicity by design
  11. Self-organizing teams are born through effective architecture, requirements, and design.
  12. Regular self analysis is crucial to tune and adjust the process.

Additional Thoughts on the Agile Methodology

It’s easy to follow the 12 commandments of Agile and be like “Sure no problem let’s do that!”

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Agile simply is about a mindset. It doesn’t mean that you need to be a developer to be Agile or a Project Manager. It means that all decisions that you make within your stack should be made strategically. You should build things that can shift easily and adopt changes without user impact.

I am not expert at Agile, but I live it like we all do in the Office 365 and SaaS world. Conceptually, we can take some of the ideas and use them to build things smarter and more dynamically to adapt to change.

How Does the Agile Methodology Apply to the Modern Workplace?

Now, we ask the question how do we apply all of this “stuff” to our UEM/Modern Workplace? It’s a great question. It’s not simply just “we rollout a new update to our UEM portal every month because our vendor tells us to do so.”

Honestly, it’s a state-of-mind overall. Every aspect to your UEM design must live the 12 principles we talked about earlier. By using mindfulness, we can build our environment to support our Agile Change Management process. Let’s hit each of the 12 Principles and see how the Modern Workplace can use them.

Promoting Customer Happiness in the Modern Workplace

When I think about promoting customer happiness, I think about zero impact. There is no greater way to promote happiness than by building your platform without creating heartache. We can do this in a few ways.

First, we build ONE profile/payload for ONE function. As you can see below, we separate out the profiles and never comingle them. This allows us to update the user experience without impacting the user for the most part. As an example, in iOS we will keep restrictions and passcode profiles separate so a restrictions change doesn’t make them change their passcode for some reason:

A second example, would be the use of Smart Groups to dynamically give users access applications/profiles automatically:

Adapting to Requirement Changes and Frequent Software Updates Quickly in the Modern Workplace

Requirement changes are a frequent thing. In the Modern Workplace, a great example are new OS releases that create new requirements. MacOS is a great example of that.

One of the main competitive advantages in Workspace ONE is their same day support for new operating systems. Very few UEM providers offer the ability to work on new features out of the gate.

Workspace ONE lets you adapt to changes quickly in a few additional ways. One example is with version control for Applications, which lets you deploy various flavors of an application to different groups of users without impact:

Collaborating Between Business and IT

This area is “sort” of outside of your UEM platform. Microsoft Planner, which is free to anyone with an Office 365 license is an amazing collaboration tool that I strongly encourage you to check out.

Planner gives you notifications, a nice Kanban board approach, and a great way to collaborate and communicate cross-teams.

Using a Semi-DevOps Approach in the Modern Workplace

Sub-containers in Workspace ONE, which let you give Testing/QC Teams their own container to work within is a great tool. We couple this with Role-Based Access Control, giving a team full access to do anything needed within their container to support agility.

Teams can integrate their own integration servers, fully-manage the container, deploy apps, and much more to empower them to work quickly and swiftly. You can even audit the settings of your sub-containers against the global to ensure consistency:

Identifying Application Performance in the Modern Workplace

VMware’s new Digital Employee Experience is a great new enhancement in Workspace ONE Intelligence which empowers IT to monitor Modern Workplace KPIs, proactively find issues, and help empower remediation through automation.

Using Solid Technical Design to Empower Agility in the Modern Workplace

The final area that I will call attention to is maintaining technical excellence. This starts with an effective architectural design. As you can see below, Workspace ONE can be complicated.

Technical design comes down to building to your requirements and not just an a boiler plate design used for every customer. A few of the things you should be considering as good design practices:

  • Buying a separate test environment
  • Minimizing the number of org groups you use
    • Only use Org Groups for Different Geographic zones or for RBAC administration
  • Building dedicated infrastructure for enterprise integration in different countries e.g. LDAP, resource access, SMTP, etc.
  • Leveraging Smart Groups and Dynamic User Groups with LDAP queries

Final Thoughts

As we have seen today, Agile Methodology is a way of life in design. By keeping the concepts in your mind, you deploy and design your environment effectively. This helps deliver consistency that meshes with your organizational IT strategy.

I hope everyone will join us next month when we talk more about Agile Change Management because living with agility will also make your change management process easier through the credibility you build.

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