What is most valuable?
I think what’s great is the ability for teams to really plan at the team level. CA Agile Central does this very well without much overhead. This allows our teams to really focus on the work, as opposed to the administration of the tool. I think at the team level, that's the most valuable.
At the portfolio level, what’s most valuable is being able to manage the visions, the features, and the releases; it’s very easy, simple, and straightforward to do. I think there's good value, as well, by bringing together the business vision statements and what IT is thinking in terms of delivery, and what's possible in terms of capacity. The objects within the system are integrated well enough to allow for really smooth end-to-end planning.
How has it helped my organization?
It has improved the organization's functions by eliminating time wasted waiting for someone to have a prioritized list on their laptop or on some SharePoint site that to which we then have to get access. All of this is simplified and we're not wasting time looking for information. Everything is right in one place, correlated, and related in the right way, and at the right level that allows for planning, execution, and tracking afterwards.
We have pockets of really good Agile maturity in the company and some pockets where more maturity is still necessary. I think the bank as a whole is still maturing in terms of agility, and it's ability to adapt to change. I would describe it as just pockets at this point, but growing very, very quickly.
We use Agile for coaching as well. We try to coach to a few things. One of them is, of course, business value; to say, "hey, focus on delivering high business value first". So again, we are able to take advantage of the prioritized lists at all levels within the tool.
This applies to transparency also; making data visible at all levels and to anybody who is a stakeholder or part of the team. The information is right there, and everybody has the same exact view given the access that they are granted.
We work on predictability also. You're able to see the level of velocity that each team and each release has very quickly. You don't have to go and search for data. When talking about improvement, it's more of a process that we coach. But, enabling those types of conversations around continuous improvement based on accessible, real data from the system is invaluable.
We're focused on multiple areas. We are trying to get teams to think about the system as a whole and not just their small areas. We're trying to get end-to-end visibility of how efficient we are at doing our work. That's where we coach.
What needs improvement?
We have submitted lots of ideas to the Ideas portal, such as milestones. We would like to make sure that that's a first class citizen, if you will. Make it a little bit more robust regarding our API plans. Reporting I think is a big one too, especially at the bank.
We base a lot of decisions on real data. So if we're not able to get that real data in a very simple way and be able to slice and dice it, then we aren't as effective as we could be at making those decisions quickly. I'd like to see a reporting interface that is easy to use, based on report templates that we can take advantage of.
Lastly, the Insights module within the tool was great when it came out, yet very few people harness it's power today. I think it could be more integrated into their reporting interface, if it's possible. It would really drive true insight right into the data that we are creating around our work.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I think the CA Agile Central is pretty stable. I've used it for over 6 years and it's fairly stable. We use it on the SaaS model. The website says 90% up time, which is fantastic. No real major down times that we've seen.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We use Agile Central at scale already. The tool is being used across the entire bank and across the world. At last count, we had 7,000 or 8,000 people using it across multiple teams in multiple organizations and these are active licenses. I believe we are already using it at scale in a very real way to deliver value.
How is customer service and technical support?
We have worked with technical support when we have questions of defects. They are very responsive. They approach their work with an open mind or open transparent setup, where they're sharing the latest information and where things stand in terms of questions, or defects, or enhancements, if you will. Overall, we have no complaints at all, from my perspective at least.
Which solutions did we use previously?
I don't believe there was a previous solution in place for Agile teams. Some teams were using Atlassian JIRA and then some are still using version one, but that was in parallel and not a replacement.
How was the initial setup?
I was not part of the initial set up, but I have been a subscription administrator and I'm aware of what goes into it. It's not overly difficult. I think working with the CA setup team, makes it very easy.
What other advice do I have?
When selecting a vendor, the ability to integrate with other internal tools is first. I also look at the stability of the brand and extensibility in being able to extend out. Of course, meeting our minimum needs is a given, such as being able to track and report on data. I want to know how robust those items are. I think most products provide those types of functions, it's just how robust they are and how high a grade they have in terms of being able to deliver that functionality. That is what differentiates vendors.
My advice to others is to start right away. Learn as much as you can. The tool itself is not going to be your impediment or your longest pole in the tent. It’s going to take a long time to figure out what your internal culture and processes are, and the tool is only there to help you reflect what you are producing. So start early.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Dec 15 2016