Agile Coaching and Agile Business Services for small to enterprise businesses, community banks and credit unions.

Phone:  919.205.0950

Email:   bob@transform-services.com

Project Background:   Often, support processes for offerings continue to use traditional waterfall processes even as the development team becomes increasingly agile by using processes like scrum.   In this project the client wanted to increase the overall effectiveness of their agile processes by joining product managers and marketing specialists with the scrum methods used by the development team.

 

Client: Self-Service Provider to Financial Institutions

 

Problem:  As the development team became increasingly proficient at scrum and related processes and tools, the gap with product management became a gulf.   The role of product owner within scrum was unoccupied by anyone from product management.   Product managers were following their process (which finance relied on for project accounting events) that had marketing requirements specifications being the deliverable from product management to development which in turn kicked off development activity toward a software design specification.   A development manager was filling the role of product owner and the result was development being increasingly efficient at bypassing valid product management input.   Overall product lifecycle management was not synced up with actual processes resulting in budget, funding and deliverable confusion.

 

Project:   Luckily, the development managers and team (including the scrum master) recognized these gaps.    Once an appropriate project was identified and an executive sponsor was on board, the goal became to integrate the product managers (including related marketing managers) for this effort into the agile / scrum process.    The first step was to break down the assumptions that permeated the situation between the groups.    Agile operates on the assumption that nobody knows exactly what the result will look like ahead of time.    The product managers were so ingrained in waterfall that they assumed rework cycles would occur before and after offering release because development could not change their plan once they started (when in fact when using scrum - the plan can adjust every 2 to 4 week sprint based on what everyone learns).

 

Transform Services acted as advisor and consultant to the leaders and participants in this change effort.    This included some short initial workshops.   We do not believe in mass training for these types of efforts as each person's experience and the situation of each project suggests learn by doing and taking the agile approach to heart while trying to apply it.    But questions and conundrums always happen.    We always let the client participants make the decisions (especially the scrum master) but we can provide the support they need for justifying those decisions and appropriate advice from our experience along the way.   We also may notice things that in the chaos of the moment the team will miss.

 

An example of this was in relation to required documentation.    These non-agile specifications could not be avoided without the overall product lifecycle and finance organizations fighting it tooth and nail.   So on our advice, the team used their user story tools and agile scoring processes without the documents and then generated the documents to meet the other groups needs.    This allowed the agile process to work the way it was intended and left it to another day to adjust the outside document issues.

 

Results:   The selected "demonstration" project showed it was possible to integrate product management and development into one scrum process with appropriate role assignments.    The process was adopted on other projects subsequently even though the initial project was shelved due to unrelated market issues.

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