Intelliware took a two-pronged approach featuring a co-team build to drive change in mindset in combination with the implementation of Agile practices across the remainder of the development organization to enable broad process and delivery change.
The result was that the company was able to improve its ability to deliver in a consistent and predictable way. The development organization benefitted from: improved communications within teams, between teams and with external stakeholders; better alignment between business requirements and delivery plans; improved quality through engineering and testing practices; increased feedback from stakeholders; and a shift towards a culture of continuous improvement through the incorporation of retrospectives.
Intelliware was engaged to support the modernization of development and delivery processes. While Agile was not entirely new to the organization, knowledge levels among staff varied from little to no exposure to a strong understanding of Agile.
The motivations for the change initiative were:
- Faster development cycles to better respond to changing client needs
- Improved quality earlier in the development process with less testing effort and last-minute fixes
- A more robust development process for continuous and predictable delivery
- Improved collaboration, planning and delivery
Intelliware recommended a two-pronged approach for change that would:
- Enable broad process and delivery change through the implementation of Agile practices in an incremental and iterative approach, starting with a few teams and scaling across the delivery organization
- Aggressively drive change in mindset, delivery and architecture by fully immersing a team in an Agile co-team build of a new product offering
Intelliware’s framework groups Agile practices into three areas: Team Collaboration, Iterative and Increment Delivery, and Engineering. The framework provides a disciplined and guided approach to implementing Agile that initially exposes teams to the “what” and “how” of Agile. As teams become more capable and aware of the “why” behind the practices, the framework becomes a supporting tool for continuous improvement built on top of a strong foundation of Agile practice.
From the three areas, practices can be implemented all at once or incrementally. In an incremental implementation, teams get started with basic practices to improve collaboration, visibility to work, planning and delivery before moving to advanced practices for delivery and Engineering.
The Intelliware framework includes an Agile Assessment tool to measure progress and identify areas for improvement and focus. At the company, Agile Assessments were conducted on a regular basis. These reports provided teams with indicators of their proficiency with each of the practices, along with observations, findings and recommendations for improvement.
“Intelliware recommended adopting Agile practices to achieve consistent and predictable delivery. We liked the iterative and incremental approach as a strategy to avoid disrupting any of our product releases while we went through this change. Through training and coaching, Intelliware focused on quickly getting a few teams up to speed on basic practices, while incrementally adding advanced practices and fanning out across additional teams. Using this approach, we were able to see benefits and derive value in a very short timeframe.” QA Director
As a first step, teams were provided with education and training to get everyone to a consistent understanding of the practices and how they contribute to delivery. Each team was then supported with Agile coaching to implement practices.
As teams progressed, the level of coaching provided to them moved from intense to supported until ultimately each team was self-sufficient. Along the way, several mechanisms were used to engage stakeholders to communicate the change initiative as well as involve them in sprint and milestone reviews, demonstrations and other activities as appropriate.
In addition to on-going assessment,surveys were also conducted to collect feedback on progress and identify themes for improvement and focus.
The adoption of Agile practices achieved consistent and predictable delivery that:
- Improved communication within the teams, between teams and with external stakeholders
- Aligned business requirements to plans and delivery
- Made work visible in the form of a product backlog that is regularly updated, prioritized and estimated
- Provided a mechanism for the Product Owner to manage scope by prioritizing features and adjusting the backlog to respond to feedback, changing conditions and the emerging solution
- Achieved predictable and consistent delivery through an understanding of capacity and velocity and visible tracking of progress against sprint and milestone plans
- Delivered features in small incremental and iterative chunks
- Improved quality through engineering and testing practices
- Demonstrated working and tested software to stakeholders on a frequent basis for feedback
- Made processes and technical issues, risks and constraints visible earlier in the process for action and resolution
- Incorporated retrospectives to allow reflection and the identification of opportunities for improvement
“Intelliware’s engagement resulted in the creation of a solid foundation of Agile development and delivery practices that quickly created tangible results. The practices, in combination with a focus on continuous improvement, will provide benefits for our development organization far into the future.” Director, Project Management