Agile + DevOps East 2020 Concurrent Session : Scaling the Mountain, One Step at a Time - High-Level Feature Planning for Large Scale Projects

Conference archive


Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 1:15pm to 2:15pm

Scaling the Mountain, One Step at a Time - High-Level Feature Planning for Large Scale Projects

Every organization, large or small, has a complex project that seems impossible to address. Significant tech debt, substantial impact to the business, risky to tackle – we all have behemoth systems that take the backburner, and we hope outlive their necessity.

When a large system overhaul is initiated and funding is a primary focus, high-level feature planning provides a way to inform the team, as well as management, an understanding of scope and complexity. It also helps set direction without committing to a firm end date. High-level feature planning allows teams to collaboratively identify groups of deliverable work, assumptions for completion, and high-level effort estimates for each group of work.

On our teams, high-level feature planning enabled us to take a +25 year-old system and deliver a new system on an updated platform - something we’ve tried unsuccessfully to both rebuild and outsource previously. It’s been a multi-year, multi-team effort, but has since delivered hundreds of hours of business time savings, cost reduction for business and IT, lower support requirements, and newly automated features. The team took the impossible and made it possible, with smaller, concentrated deliveries.

Attendees will walk through the process of how feature planning works. They will leave with documentation of the process, and an understanding of how to execute feature planning in their own situations.

CUNA Mutual Group

Jim Collins is a certified SAFe Scaled Agilist, Professional Scrum Master, and Project Management Professional. A Navy veteran, Jim has more than 30 years of experience in the defense, gaming (lottery), and financial industries. Jim has spent the last 20 years in various management roles in IT, the last few years as a manager of digital transformation, and is leading the charge to a DevOps culture in his organization. He is not the guy who wrote “Good to Great”, although they do share the same name.

Amanda  Palovcsik
CUNA Mutual Group

Amanda Palovcsik is a Certified Scrum Master, Professional Scrum Master, and certified Scaled Agilist. With more than 15 years of project management experience in the broadcast, medical, and financial industries, including an overlap of seven years on Scrum and SAFe implementations in parallel to waterfall, Amanda has a diverse background of experience managing projects and teams of all sizes. Throughout her career, Amanda has focused on team member development and coaching in agile and PM practices, expanding the Scrum Master and Epic Owner roles in her current company, and improving reporting and communication methods while using Agile.