by Grant Beck, Plaster Group Agile Solutions Practice Director
Our client approached Plaster Group with a desire to undergo a transformation from Waterfall software development to Agile methodology. Prior to reaching out to Plaster Group, our client’s functional teams had grown disenchanted and frustrated with their BI and project management process. The continuous churn resulting from Waterfall methods was too open ended, and the lack of predictability and clear setting of expectations had a strong negative impact on employee morale. Additionally, team members expressed difficulty communicating with the business regarding missed deadlines and spent increasing amounts of time sourcing back-end data and developing user requirements without presenting any customer facing results. Overall, our client reported a sense of poor collaboration between the business and project teams, resulting in missed delivery deadlines, incomplete projects, and, consequently, unhappy customers.
Plaster Group’s Agile Solutions consultants met with managers, leads, and development personnel to understand the current development cycle first-hand, with a key strategic emphasis on understanding the current organizational structure, hindrances in the completion of previous projects, stakeholder expectations, and employee willingness to adopt Agile.
Using this information, Plaster Group consultants became advocates for the transition to Agile, providing group and individual training to personnel as needed and leading several project teams through Agile development, providing one to one coaching as needed during the process, and growing an internal team of Agile evangelists through project success. Specific focus was given to coaching both business leadership and Agile development teams on communicating with one another to reach consensus about work priorities, user requirements, deliverables, project milestones and timelines.
Plaster Group led project teams and senior leadership through the enterprise wide methodological transition. Plaster Group was essential in providing:
● Communicated the benefits of adopting Agile methods to project teams both in terms of augmenting and improving their workflow and allowing for more efficient, complete delivery to the customer
● Built project teams, and offered training and coaching in Agile delivery to all personnel, ensuring the capability of project teams to continue utilizing Agile methods enterprise wide after Plaster Group’s disengagement
● Empowered delivery teams to embrace the Agile model, feel safe in giving sprint estimates, and executing the work to which they had committed in planning the sprint
● Special attention was given to fostering social, collaborative project teams capable of managing dynamic project life-cycles and embracing changing user requirements as a normal and coveted result of the development process
● Worked with senior leadership and project teams to plan sprints, set expectations, designate roles, groom backlogs, serve as Scrum Masters in mitigating conflict and risks to sprint objectives, and provide individual mentorship to employees on the expectations and efficient and effective utilization of Agile methods
● Served as a mediator between the business and the project teams, communicating user requirements, objectives, and corporate status to personnel, preventing user requirements from changing mid sprint, and asking questions of the business from a technical perspective to assist the project team
Since adopting Agile, our client has witnessed notable improvement in project delivery. Incremental delivery has resulted in a quicker realization of ROI, and encouragement of changing requirements has allowed the business to be responsive to changes in business need and priority. As such, customer satisfaction is on the rise. In addition, business leaders report renewed faith in delivery teams, and a notable improvement in employee morale, largely due to the increased communication and collaboration established via sprint cycles, the successful deployment of solutions every three weeks, and the bi-directional trust stemming from the Agile method.