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DTA Digital Summit 2019: Tanner James Reflections

Geoff Sadlier

Canberra put on a perfect spring day and public servants from across the Territory and beyond came out to network. Congratulations to the DTA for a well organised event – the venue and speakers were first class and this created a great atmosphere and engaged discussions.

This event acknowledged that data and technology continue to change how Australians live, work and prosper. People and businesses expect the same experience interacting with government as they have with innovative, leading private organisations. The focus on digital transformation is designed to ensure the APS keeps pace with community needs and expectations, by ensuring government is easy to deal with, informed by citizens and digitally capable.

Tanner James was delighted to participate in the event and our stand was located in the Exhibition Hall as you can see in the picture. We talked to many people throughout the day, ranging from project and program management novices to some wise old hands who even taught us a thing or two.

A few strong themes of interest and discussion came through:

1. Many people talked about agile ways of working, but felt uncomfortable with the lack of rigour offered by ‘agile’. Some people were continuing to use waterfall, but recognised the benefits of adopting agile – they were unsure how to make the transition successfully and nervous about taking the first steps. We discussed the benefits of blending agile with the strength and reliability of PRINCE2. Enabling people to exploit the power and inherent motivational strengths of agile while being underpinned and supported by the safeguards of a structured and principled approach was appealing to many of the attendees. More information can be found here.

2. There was general agreement from many people that we talked with that digital transformation isn’t just about technology. It requires cultural change across an enterprise (whole of organisation) in order to be truly effective. AgileSHIFT was a topic that we received lots of interest in. Organisations can work hard at getting agile techniques to work in their ICT Department, but then fail to bring along other functional areas. That’s where AgileSHIFT can help – it’s a training program designed to address this gap and help prepare organisation’s to adapt and thrive. More info can be found here.

3. A few people challenged the need for a project manager when using scrum. In response, we explained that the scrum master and project manager roles are very different. The former is a coach and facilitator who ensures their team(s) adheres to the scrum framework. In comparison, a project manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of their project(s) within constraints set by senior stakeholders (in the case of PRINCE2, the project board). Their prime responsibility is to ensure the project delivers its expected result, all within time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risk.

4. A number of the attendees asked about virtual training. Typically these were people with project or program teams spread geographically across Australia and beyond. They recognised the value of face-to-face training and coaching, but found it was cost prohibitive to fly all of their people to a location such as Canberra. Tanner James is currently exploring a virtual classroom solution that we believe will address this problem, stay tuned for more information.

Thanks to all those who stopped by at our stand to chat. We enjoyed the conversations and invite anybody interested in the above challenges to drop us a line and keep the discussion going.



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