Working with The Agile Mindset, a clients perspective
Objectivity are a values driven IT outsourcing organisation that create Win Win solutions for all their stakeholders by providing near shore outsourcing, bespoke development and support and maintenance services throughout the world.
The Agile Mindset was tasked with a coaching and training programme that would
- Enable a project team to begin to use Scrum and Agile practices on a new high profile project
- Coach the project team to become proficient in Scrum and Agile practices to facilitate successful project delivery
- Provide them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to successfully continue to use Scrum and Agile practices once the coach had left, and to be sustainable with it’s use for all of the teams projects in the future
Coaching was needed as the team had taken on a high profile, high-risk project, and it was necessary for them to reduce any potential risk. This would be done by coaching the team how to deliver more frequently, allowing for more regular customer feedback, whilst increasing transparency.
The team had received Agile Training in the past, however their previous training only covered one office, whilst the team was now spread between the UK and Poland. As a result, the team needed extra Agile Training to help them work well together, despite the long distance.
We started with a team kick-off meeting. During this session we began to create the new mindset for the team and started to get them to bond with each other. As well as starting to set the foundations for the work ahead, we:
- Had the team relate to each other on a personal level by sharing professional and personal backgrounds
- Conducted an Agile 101 session so it was clear to everyone on how we would coach them and what they could expect
- Created and agreed a project and a team vision for the work ahead so that the whole project and team had a common goal
- Created and agreed the team working agreements
- Agreed the team cadence
- Confirmed and agreed our definition of “done”
- Began the work and built our initial backlog and sized it ready for the first sprint
This session gave the team a solid foundation to start from and we then embarked on our first sprint and:
- Prepared with them the team task board
- Prepared with them on-line collaboration tools for distributed working
- Facilitated sprint planning with their own Scrum Master and Product Owner, and facilitated the team in helping with task breakdown
- Facilitated a backlog refinement session and worked with the Product Owner, Scrum Master and Team to refine the backlog for future sprints
- Facilitated the sprint review with their Scrum Master, Product Owner and team
- Facilitated the sprint retrospective with the team and Scrum Master
For the second sprint we handed the reigns over but in a guided way. We:
- Worked with the Scrum Master and Product Owner to prepare for the Sprint planning session
- Observed and guided the sprint planning session that was facilitated by their own Scrum Master.
- Observed and guided the team during sprint planning as they prepared their sprint backlog
- Observed and guided the Product Owner during sprint planning to ensure that all the work was understood and a commitment to the sprint could be made
- Observed and guided the team, Scrum Master and Product Owner during sprint review
- Observed and guided the team and Scrum Master during the sprint retrospective
- Provided feedback and areas for improvement following the sprint
Following the initial coaching, it was necessary to get the team up and running, and to be able to continue by themselves. This was followed up by visits to review progress, cover ad-hoc queries, concerns and issues that the team were having to coach and guide them through. This would help to smooth the way through to a sustained and successful agile adoption.
Before undertaking any coaching but after understanding the context we embarked on a training programme to fill any gaps that the team had. The team had already undertaken some Agile training but there were clear gaps identified in their knowledge and skill, so we trained the whole team over a number of days in:
- User Stories
- Acceptance Tests and acceptance testing
- Agile estimating and story points
- Agile release planning and velocity
- Backlog prioritisation
- Backlog management
Delivering Speed & Quality
Quality is important to any business, as it ensures that the end-product keeps customers happy. The problem is that achieving quality as well as speed – especially to the right levels – can be tricky. We aim to build up the team, as a whole, so that they are able to work more efficiently, speeding up the process, whilst improving the overall quality of the service.
“We’ve been able to significantly improve the quality and quantity of our output. “ – Justin, PM
Adapting to change is another key aspect, especially in an industry that is always expanding and innovating. Many teams find change difficult, however Scrum helps teams to manage change effectively, allowing them to easily adapt in order to handle these changes.
“We’ve been able to manage and minimise the impact of some fairly major changes, which would have been much more difficult and higher risk under our previous methodology”. – Justin, PM
Increased Project Visibility
Transparency and visibility is core to any successful project as it ensures that every team member, all stakeholders and the customer are able to see what the overall goal is that they are aiming for. It also highlights what the team need to do to get there, the current state of progress, what might need to change and how long it is likely to take.
Scrum works to ensure that the work of the team is transparent, and everyone can keep track of the projects progress, ensuring that plans can be adapted to the current situation whilst keeping motivation high. Having an end target in sight and constantly inspecting and adapting our work and plans based on actual progress provided through a transparent framework allows the correct and most timely decisions to be made at the point they are needed to ensure that the end goal is met.
“As the person responsible for delivering change to the client, I’ve never had such visibility of where we are, what is still to do and when it’s likely to be complete.” – Justin, PM
The Power of Scrum To Deliver
Scrum delivers because it brings teams together as a unit, gives everyone a sole goal to aim for and teaches the importance of collaboration and teamwork. As a result teams are able to complete tasks quickly, efficiently and create results that are top-notch first time, every time, leaving morale boosted and customers happy.
“To state it simply; Scrum is one of the most useful and powerful tools to which I’ve been exposed.” – Justin, PM, Objectivity
Some final words from Justin…
“With the success of our last venture with The Agile Mindset we have further work upcoming and look forward to working with our new agile training provider”
– Justin, PM, Objectivity