Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Agile Process Improvement Using .... Agile!

When I talk to leaders and teams about agile and scrum, they get the basics right away - sprint length, stand ups, commitments, getting to done, and basic backlog management. After that, I'm usually asked a flood of questions. How do we engage the Business? How should we estimate? How do we handle forecasting end dates and financials? What should we do with stories that don't achieve 'done'? What goes into a good User Story? Who should be the scrum master?

Obviously there are some strategic questions here mixed with tactical. Some need immediate attention, others are important but can be delayed.

So my advice to teams is very simple. Take all these questions, define them as User Stories, put them into a prioritized backlog, and leverage agile to have the process of answering them help mature the agile process.

This concept isn't new and I suspect some of the good agile coaches practice this approach. If you are using a coach, I'd recommend using them as a Scrum Master on this team. The owner of the SDLC (or someone from this office) should act as product owner, and the 'team' should be representatives of your engineering teams and leaders for different skills (pm, ba, development lead, QA). With this structure, this team can help prioritize the backlog around the issues that are most needed. Also, for this team, I recommend an acceptance criteria around researching and leveraging best practices as part of a solution.

Another approach, good for larger organizations is to break this problem into tracks. So for example, one track around requirements, another on process maturity, another on engineering standards, and another around quality improvements.

One other benefit is that it he Los individuals participate in agile in more than one context (their project and now agile process maturity). It also helps senior management engage with teams on priorities, process needs, and governance.

3 comments:

  1. I've used agile to do process improvement at several levels in a company. The agile practices helped to intensivy contact with the sponsors of the process improvement program, thus delivering business value. I published an article in the agile journal on this, see http://www.agilejournal.com/articles/columns/column-articles/5847-agile-process-improvement

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  2. Hi there,

    I'm the leading editor of Software Developer's Journal which is a new e-magazine. SDJ is the oldest magazine for developers in Poland. And now we decided to make it in english language.

    I'm looking for developers who would like to share their knowledge with other developers. If you would be interested in cooperation (articles writing, proofreading, ads) just please let me know - roger.zacharczyk@software.com.pl

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  3. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

    Scrum Process

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