A recent LinkedIn question asked for advice on how to get a company started down a path to Agile and SCRUM. I thought it might be useful to share some advice and see if the OutSystems community had any ideas to add.
At OutSystems, our roadmap is strictly a guideline because companies have different methods, cultures, and management approaches. When introducing Agile, here are the steps we generally go through. Concepts and activities that are emphasized will vary based on understanding of the customer culture, organizational structure (formal and informal), as well as their prior knowledge of Agile methodologies.
1. Education – first, level-set those involved in the roll out. We found that there are many different levels of understanding of what Agile is even if people say they “get it”. Part of this process is to make them actually go through the process before the project begins. At OutSystems, we have “Agile-in-a-Day” training sessions that provide participants with a hands-on introduction to help develop real understanding of key concepts and activities. If you have a project already selected, involve the business sponsor, business manager, and key business users.
2. Project Definition / Selection – Once everyone is clear on the vision and direction, a project can get started. The project may have been identified earlier but how the project is chosen or what criteria was used needs to be understood. Since this is the first Agile project, we need to make sure that risks at this level are addressed to help ensure success for both project and process. The criteria for selecting the project needs to include the solution’s level of complexity, visibility, resources, and integrations.
3. Execute Project – Now we start the project by educating the target users if they were not involved in the initial Agile-in-a-day. Go through the project kickoff; explain the methodology, roles, responsibilities, timeline, deliverables, etc.; fairly standard project stuff and along the way – expunge the word “scope” from all project documents, thoughts, and discussions. Work on the backlog, feature negotiations, the sprints, scrum meetings, demos, etc. Once a sprint is done, do a retrospective and refine the processes for the next sprint and the next project. Once the solution is in production, conduct a tuning sprint. This is a special sprint we do at OutSystems to ensure 100% adoption by implementing features that will boost adoption and conducting both solution performance & platform tuning in the production environment.
4. Perform Project Retrospective – apply lessons learned to subsequent projects and refine other processes. Note that this process improvement will involve Support organizations and dynamics between project teams. One of the things we often encounter is that Support organizations cannot move as fast as the project sprints and tend to delay Agile projects. Similarly, non-Agile projects have a difficult time addressing the integrations with Agile projects. As you execute your first project, you will find that you may need to bend or even break some rules to keep your project on track as defined by your timebox. Therefore at the end of the project, you will need to work with Support and other internal organizations to establish new protocols or processes specific to Agile projects.
5. Iterate Steps 1-4 – In our experience, we found it necessary to conduct multiple Agile-in-a-Day sessions to get everyone in the company level-set on the organization’s approach to Agile. Agile is a mindset change; expect hurdles and naysayers. Besides, change is always difficult even if the participants are willing, able, and have executive sponsorship.
(Unofficial #6 – Be realistic and good luck)
What do you think of this roadmap? How have you introduced Agile into your companies?