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Lou Fontana

  

Director, Agile Project Management, Vubiquity

Location: Kalispell, MT


Certifications

Certified Scrum Professional
Certified ScrumMaster
Certified Scrum Product Owner

Credentials

Biography

Lou Fontana

A recovering waterfall addict, I moved from a traditional project management role into the role of Scrum Master in September, 2011 as the company (then Avail-TVN) began to formalize its nascent Agile practices. In the three years since my move from a more traditional project management position into Agility, I have become a CSM and CSPO, served as scrum master for five different teams (not all at once!), built a team of scrum masters organized in a loose guild and now have responsibility for our Enterprise Scrum. We have collectively taken a rag-tag bundle of chaotic processes that varied across the organization and standardized as best we could around generally accepted Scrum practices. I have even been asked to relate our story to business school students at the University of Montana, my alma mater.  

The organization’s foray into Agile has been a grass roots Scrum adoption, starting with a single team working on an R&D project that was organized about a year before I moved into the Scrum Master’s role.  At that point, there were no scrum masters or product owners, testing was still largely a waterfall cascade after development was complete, team capacity was unknown and deadlines routinely blown. Since then, our agile practices have evolved to include 12 development teams in three countries, with an agile product organization and a group of scrum masters organized in a guild structure. I have been tasked with defining (and guarding) the company’s Scum practices, aligning them with our Behavior Driven Development (BDD) paradigm, building a team (guild) of Scrum Masters and evangelizing Scrum and Agile within the organization. It’s an iterative, constantly evolving process and an exciting one to help foster.

While I have built our scrum master’s guild, I have maintained a role as Scrum Master myself – currently serving a SM for a “Big Data and Analytics” team. Even though I could delegate this responsibility, I like to keep myself sharp and I believe that front line experience as a Scrum Master is the best way to accomplish that. As the company’s “Scrum Master of Scrum Masters”, I help guide the rest of the SM’s, clear their impediments and run the Scrum of Scrums. In my spare time, I’m creating an Agile dashboard for our CIO using some metrics and techniques that I picked up at this year’s Scrum Gathering, NOLA.

Prior to my personal Agile transformation, I held management positions in project management and operations for companies that, through mergers and acquisitions, became Vubiquity. I joined one of those companies (Auroras) in 2006, just out of business school with a freshly minted MBA and six months of consulting experience. I joined as employee number 12. The experience of working for a small startup that eventually evolved into a global company with close to 500 employees has been an interesting and exciting one.

In my personal life, I enjoy back country hiking, elk and deer hunting, cooking and the occasional premium cigar. If we had beaches in Montana, I would probably enjoy long walks on them. Instead, I enjoy long walks in our wilderness. 

 

Work experience

Vubiquity, Director, Agile Project Management
September 2013 - Present, Kalispell, Montana, US
I currently serve as: - Scrum Master for one team (Data and Analytics Team) - "Scrum Master of Scrum Masters" (All CSM's report to me in a guild structure) - Internal Scrum/Agile champion. My role is an interesting one - a dual role as both Scrum Master for a single team and as manager for the company's scrum masters. As scrum master, I serve our Data and Analytics team. This is a very high performing team that I am using to push the boundary of our Agile practices. I'm encourage experimentation with all of our teams, of course, but this team has a number of very experienced people on it so I can push the envelope a little harder. I'm very happy to have my team positioned at the "tip of the spear". Beyond the "vanilla scrum", I have introduced a number of what Alistair Cockburn calls "barnacles" - small additions that we bolted on to our core 'out-of-the-box' scrum adaption. Examples include PIT (Process Improvement Target) boards to track process improvement ideas that arise from the team's retrospectives, a formal Definition of Ready for our user stories and Story Point burndown (replacing hour based burndown). I also serve as "Scrum Master of Scrum Masters" for the other scrum masters in the company. I have organized the team into a loose guild, with daily standups and weekly topical meetings where we can dive into a topic and learn from one another. My responsibilities as the leader of this group includes overall 'ownership' of the company's 'enterprise scrum'. Our CIO calls our team the glue that binds the various disparate teams together. (Many of our teams do not interact with one another, as they work on legacy platforms that require little cross-team collaboration). * Important to note that Avail-TVN and Vubiquity are really the same company. There was a name change/rebranding that coincided with my new job title so I am documenting this here.

Avail-TVN, Director of Project Management
March 2006 - September 2013, Kalispell, MT, US
Project Manager and Scrum Master starting in Sept, 2011. I had one employee (our second CSM) starting in Dec 2012 and three CSM's reporting to me by Sept 2013. During this time period, I was still in our PMO reporting to a very waterfall oriented VP.

 

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