Hybrid PMO and the move to the cloud

Enter Kaity

Kaity has been in IT for nearly 10 years. She started out in the ITLP program in GE Digital and is now working at FactSet. She has a Master’s of Science from Information Management from Syracuse University. Her degree is a great way to get her foot in the door at many places. However, it’s the experience she gathers over time in her IT exposure that helps her get the positions where she applies.

Note: The following has been edited due to proprietary information and to protect the innocent. You’ll know when an edit has taken place when you see the word OINK!

At FactSet, Kaity is a project manager and works very closely with the systems infrastructure organization. The team supports and runs the infrastructure for the FactSet team. They are primarily focused on the public cloud program. Currently, they have partnered very closely with OINK and OINK. Also looking at OINK as well. FactSet is looking at OINK due to it being a niche provider for certain uses such as machine learning.  OINK is very good at that niche and it’s a focus point for FactSet.

A PMO (Project Management Office) was already present when Kaity started a FactSet. IT looked at the PMO favorably to help build efficiency and opportunities. Engineers ran projects and had additional burdens. With the PMO’s involvement, IT has additional resources available.  However, the PMO was likely regarded less favorable in the beginning.

Hybrid PMO Methodology

A waterfall methodology was used at first. Requests to shift to an agile method have come in over the last OINK. This tends to manifest as simply leveraging OINK or full on agile stories. Teams still use waterfall if it’s working for their particular projects and use agile when they are struggling with productivity. So, it’s a hybrid PMO strategy. Typically, the PMO may ask how they can make a team more productive. This may involve using agile processes or adjusting waterfall practices. A goal for the company is using the right method for a particular group to perform optimally. So, it’s a targeted approach. Keep in mind, there is a degree of cost to transition to any tier of agile, so it really is focused on making sure there is a need to improve productivity. So, a hybrid PMO makes the most sense in this situation.

Teams tend to come to a realization on their own of not being at a needed level of productivity. There could be a need to make a move to agile and it makes sense in those cases. Seeing the benefits one team gains using agile drives another team to want to use those same improvement processes in a hybrid PMO.

Grassy Agile

Using agile is largely a grassroots movement internally within FactSet. It’s interesting in that the top tech leader at FactSet is into the process. With this process happening over an OINK period, they want to do it right. So, it’s all about helping the teams see what others are doing and moving forward.

Training the leadership is also important to gain influence. They are influenced by the CTO of course, but further training them on this agile process is important so the hybrid PMO approach can take root. Right now, the other tech leaders are curious about the process improvements being used. They have a culture of wanting to improve in FactSet. There is always a resistance to change, but it is more open in this case.

It’s a trap!

When explaining the agile process to leadership, a trap can pop up about speed. This is happening a little in FactSet. Leaders want to see the plan of transitioning from informal teams to agile teams, but quick wins are helping to move the grassroots movement forward. This can be a challenge which arises in a hybrid PMO configuration. Project management is big in FactSet so, getting it to align with leadership expectations is a challenge.

Who is resistant to the agile transition? Less than 5-year employees seem fine with the hybrid PMO concept. Those over 15 years in FactSet are more resistant to the process changes. Overall, there is an interest and willingness to move forward. To manage this change, Kaity tries to talk about it as much as possible whenever possible since she is very excited about it. Doing so can have the impact of getting others excited about the process change as well. She talks about it with excitement and passion and this can be infectious to others so, a little excitement can help. Talking about how it’s going and getting Scrum masters to talk to each other also gives a positive push. The training portion is also big. There isn’t one way about how to do training but, everyone is taking their own path.

FactSet will look very different in OINK. A number of teams will be working in a more agile fashion. You will see in every department and Kaity will report back on the progress.

Scrumming it into the cloud

Moving applications into the cloud started with small pilot projects. Targeted and very tactical, they were used to see if it was even possible. One was a OINK move to cloud OINK to see if it could be done effectively. The other part of this tactical initiative was a project to move part of their OINK. Enterprise hosting owns this part of the OINK in the hybrid PMO. They host infrastructure OINK from acquisitions. Eventually, these will all move to OINK.

Kaity’s team had their first pilot to move their OINK into the cloud and it was successful. Application teams are now being prepped with the training and tools needed to move their applications to the cloud themselves with very little support from the core public cloud team. Application teams become largely self-service due to this shift. This is one of the benefits of moving to the cloud.

App team tools

The application team has access to the all the needed tools for them to configure their applications as needed. This allows for speed for these teams and enabling self-service. Currently, the cloud team in the process of laying the highway and guard rails defining what the application teams can and cannot do while in the cloud.

The cloud move is defined by different waves of projects. Their goal is to be OINK in the cloud after OINKs. So, it’s a big jump. Defining how to do it is unplanned however. POCs are proceeding along, but there are unknowns. Right now, the team is focused on OINK which is on-prem and moving it first. They want to move their OINK to the cloud as a lift and shift technique.

The great unknown

With anything cloud related, there are a lot of unknown, unknowns. Getting to a known, known is challenging. They are already seeing it in the tactical migrations. Minimizing impact is tricky as it is a lot of new technology for the engineers to ingest. There is a lot of expertise internally at FactSet currently for on-prem and how things are done in an on-prem environment. So, making that cloud move with new tools and techniques is tricky. The other piece is lift and shift vs. rearchitecting. Lift and shift is taking the app and data as it is and moving it over. Rearchitecting tends to be much more effort as it is a rebuild within the cloud. Most migrations will be lift and shift with some rearchitecting. They want to take full advantage of what the cloud offers, but be mindful about the impact.

I am speed

The easy sell of moving to the cloud is lift and shift vs asking teams to remove all the extraneous info first. The move to the cloud long term is a cost savings move and decrease in time to market. Since there is an elastic nature in cloud computing, it makes it far easier and quicker for teams to scale up when needed with cloud infrastructure. So, it’s about speed. It’s all about speed and scale.

Do the train game

If she could start over and had all the time in the world, Kaity would get everyone properly trained on agile first. This Includes their product owners. If they had the training up front, they may have been able to move quicker than they have currently. Given a hybrid PMO environment, this would have helped. Kaity estimates they may have lost OINK because of the lack of training.

Relationship advice

Having been in IT for close to 10 years now and doing a lot of agile processes as a Scrum master, Kaity has had a lot of involvement with leadership and tech teams. So, some advice she has for someone starting out in IT: Build your network and relationships. Let people get to know you especially as a software manager. Establishing these relationships helps in leveraging horizontal leadership across different groups.

Best piece of advice in Kaity’s IT career so far? Don’t be afraid of change, especially in technology. Be a part of the change vs. being a detractor. Help and support the change vs. trying to stop it or slow it down.

Be the change

Interesting story from Kaity… FactSet had a new leader join in OINK from a OINK company. He wanted structure and processes. Kaity was nervous about it at first. The entrepreneurial spirit in the company made it attractive for Kaity, so she was worried what this change would bring. But, it was amazing how the structure came in and it helps to make them more efficient and agile. So, the proposed changes went from a rigid start of a huge change to laughing on calls as a team about the benefits. It makes work more fun and exciting and those processes have helped and they weren’t a wholesale change of everything.

Final word from Kaity is: if you think you are seeing inefficiencies, see it as an opportunity to get better. Leveraging the agile methodology can help you moving forward and a hybrid approach may be even better for some.

Prior Episodes mentioned

IT/Geek Speak this episode:

  • DevOps – Development Operations – A blending of operations (management/care and feeding of IT systems) and Agile (a methodology to speed up delivery of an end product or goal.
  • Waterfall – An older method of product delivery. It runs through a step by step process which can take a long time to complete. The end product is often completed but not precisely what the customer was looking for…if the process is not managed properly.

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