Agile Santa

Agile Santa

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Finally the time has come. You understand that he had no time to say hello — but he left you a wrapped gift box. Is it really that little white matchbox car that you were hoping for? The excitement increases while you are unwrapping that gift box.

Why Do you Need to be Better than Santa?

Santa had all the best intentions, but working hard does not mean that you will succeed. You also have to work smart, collaborate with your stakeholders and improve continuously. During my previous engagements I observed too many times that a product owner does not get the outcome that she or he expected. Therefore it is very likely that the offering will also fail to meet the expectations of customers. In times of cloud adoption and machine-learning based customer insights your business will fall behind very quickly and eventually get “blockbusted”. You want to make sure you understand your customer needs. Ideally you are even a step ahead and let them trial something before they even realise this is what they have been waiting for. Back to Santa — he got a couple of things right and let’s have a look at that.

What Has Santa Done Right?

Santa had the best intentions you could imagine but like everyone else he had to master the “project management triangle” pictured below:

  • Time: One year to prepare the delivery and he delivered that matchbox car on time — success
  • Scope: Santa delivered the matchbox car that the child wanted — partial success (with a caveat: wrong colour)
  • Cost: He probably had a constraint there too, and he managed to stay within budget — success

How Can Santa Improve?

Getting feedback from stakeholders once a year is not enough. Things change — the market, the competitors and the customer demand. How do we make sure we understand what the expected outcome is and that we can deliver it in an effective way? There are a couple of things that will help us:

  • Continuous feedback from your stakeholders:
    Make sure the delivery is aligned with stakeholder expectations, which might change, e.g. because of new legislations or a changing market. The most powerful technique to do that are regular playbacks at the end of a sprint. This way every stakeholder gets the opportunity to experience where the team is up to. Short intervals and release cycles will help to get continuous feedback.
  • Continuous feedback from your team:
    A regular catch-up with the team where you figure out what went well and what didn’t, will help you to identify gaps and things you need to continue doing. This will help the team to improve continuously.
  • Collaborate:
    Communication with team members needs to be efficient. A daily stand-up will help you to make sure everyone knows what the team members are doing and if there are any impediments. This is of course not the only way to call out any blockers and you will still need to collaborate throughout the day.
  • Cross-functional team:
    By establishing cross-functional teams you can reduce the waiting times that you have in a typical waterfall approach to a minimum: e.g. waiting for procurement before an AWS account can be created.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Gerald Bachlmayr

Gerald Bachlmayr

Principal Cloud Architect at Cuscal Payments