Trends | 14-Nov-2015

Transitioning to Agile

Like many software development companies, we’re always looking for ways to improve productivity and deliver more value to our customers.

One of the best ways we’ve found to do this by migrating customers from an old-skool waterfall development methodology to Agile – Specifically Scrum.

We’ve invested pretty heavily in Scrum and now have 10 or so Certified Scrum Masters and 40 odd developers practising Scrum every day.  We still have plenty of waterfall style projects as well and there will always be a place for them.  But when we see a project or product that would benefit from Scrum (and may will), we try hard to migrate it.

The journey into Scrum can be pretty hairy at times.  Many upon hearing from an Agilist how Scrum can transform development by delivering higher value, better quality and faster time to market while working fewer hours with less stress and more fun find the story hard to believe.

We’ve found that both development teams and clients need some convincing before they are prepared to take the leap of faith often needed to try Scrum.  This can be debilitating and some never realise Scrums full potential.  After all Scrum is a minimum standard – you can’t half do Scrum, you either do Scrum or you don’t (search Google “Scrummerfall”).

To help make the journey that bit easier, here are my top 5 tips for introducing Scrum to a new team:

  1. Convince the team.  Explain how big up front design and planning is just an illusion of control.  Reflect on past experiences.  Anyone that’s ever had to work evenings and weekends towards the end of a project to meet deadlines will relate to this.  Ironically in a waterfall project, this situation ISeasy to predict!
  2. Evaluate the team members carefully.  Going Scrum will mean far more collaborative teamwork than before.  This won’t come naturally to some.  If necessary adjust the team to get the balance right.
  3. Get a seasoned Scrum Master to be Coach.  You can’t just read and learn Scrum, you have to live it.  Scrum is journey that the team has to follow before it makes sense and deliver its promise.  A good coach will make the process much easier.
  4. Over time, give the team control, but keep it within the Scrum framework.  Empowerment is like turbo charging the team.  You’ll get more commitment, quality, pace and satisfaction from an empowered team.
  5. Never neglect retrospectives.  This is the time to inspect itself and adapt.  It’s Scrums inbuilt continuous improvement programme. 

 

Mike Doherty

Technical Director