Fast Agility

A practitioner’s view

Every day, Agile is practiced by more than 18 million software professionals. It has become the foundation for digital transformation projects. Every customer and team want to be working only on Agile mode. Surprisingly, Agile is not only practiced in software development. It has expanded the arena and named itself as Agile Marketing, Agile Security and more. The elements for making Agile can be Scrum, Kanban, XP et al. However, real Agility cannot be experienced by the team when the below things are not enabled.
1. Team feels fast with self-service capabilities. i.e. Queues kill agility.
2. Feels fast when tasks are clear. i.e. thinking what does that mean feels slow.
3. Turning back to ask feels fast. i.e. Email & Skype chat feels slow.
4. Search feels fast. i.e. Clicking on the documents feel slow.
5. Meeting free days feel fast i.e. busy calendar days feels slow.
6. Using collaboration tools feel fast i.e. Teams competing on multiple products feels slow.
7. Demo to Product owner feels fast. i.e. Defects will be less from QA/UAT.

Let us deep dive into the factors impacting agility and how to come out of it.

1. Team feels fast with self-service capabilities. i.e. Queues kill agility.
The typical problem between Development and operations team. Due to business dynamics, operations / QA teams may not be part of your Sprints. They work in silos. QA might say ‘we are currently working on the other major release. Which is demanded by the customer. Hence we will take up your development to testing later. Also, we have few more items in our development pipeline already’. In order to bring Agility here, staff the expert positions with enough people to help teams. Also, make support teams understand and live the values of Agile principles and manifesto.

2. Feels fast when tasks are clear. i.e. thinking ‘what does that mean’ feels slow.
Many of the times, team members are not clear about the user stories they are working upon. Breaking the tasks into smaller batches would help the team. Ensure the team creates sub-tasks of each element involved in the epic. It can be a codebase setup even. Creating a culture of ‘Ask for help when stuck’ would motivate the team greatly.

3. Turning back to ask feels fast. i.e. Email & Skype chat feels slow.
Agile teams are made to sit closely. It encourages team members to discuss candidly on the work items in progress. Sending out a mail to a peer sitting in a cubicle far away and waiting for their response may be time consuming. Saying ‘I pinged in Lync; did not get the response’ kills Agility.

4. Search feels fast. i.e. Clicking on the documents feel slow.
Most of the times, team has to refer lot of artifacts developed by others. We search for information in Google or in desktop for more than 20 times in a day. Finding of artifacts made easy through search. It can be instantly in few milliseconds.

Fast Agility

5. Meeting free days feel fast i.e. busy calendar days feels slow.
Ensure the team does not attend too many meetings in a day. More than 1 meeting apart from daily standup should be curbed. Apart from the technical clarification meeting, team may avoid attending the other status meeting. Most of the effort for the team, will be exhausted for the preparatory actions.

6. Using collaboration tools feel fast i.e. Teams competing on multiple products feel slow.
How many of the times we have undergone this situation where development team uses JIRA and QA/Support teams uses Service Now/Quality Centre. The advantage with collaboration tools such JIRA, Trello and others is; it gives a unified approach and status of the work items being developed. Also, these collaboration tools help the different teams in the value chain to create a shared dashboard where everyone is aware of what others are working and when to pull the requests.

7. Demo to Product owner feels fast. i.e. Defects will be less from QA/UAT
A demo to the product owner before delivering to QA/UAT will help in identifying defects earlier. As mentioned in the agenda point 1, due to business dynamics, operations / QA teams may not be part of your Sprints. Hence, a defect found by a 3rd part tester will pinch the heart of a developer. Apart from the peer unit testing and code reviews, having a review with the product owner and fixing the bugs before QA will reduce lot of time and energy.

Courtesy & Inspirations
1. Jason Yip — Agile Coach @ Spotify
2. Dave West CEO @ Scrum.org
3. Jayne Gyrol — CEO @ DevOps institute

This article originally published in http://linchpinlabs.blogspot.in/2017/11/fast-agility-explainer.html

Like what you read? Give R Ragavendra Prasath a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.