In my first blog on our Agile journey, I talked about how the changes we’ve made to develop software and how the shorter development cycles in Sprints let us adapt rapidly to changing market forces and client requirements.
Looking back at a typical Code String project structured under our previous Waterfall approach prior to going Agile might see us start work after receiving the brief, then develop and code for five months before going back to the client with a working draft. In that time, things had often changed. We could have avoided unnecessary work. That’s where Agile comes in.
In contrast to the Waterfall approach, we’ve adopted Agile. This has us working in two-week bursts that are highly iterative and comprise a series of Sprints. It focuses our minds on defining key features and objectives before each Sprint. The idea is to reduce risk while providing value quickly. We start with a requirement that outlines how features should perform and be tested. Our developers then cycle through a series of Sprints to provide small bursts of value.
Initially, we trialled one-week Scrum cycles but found that too short a period to achieve enough to evaluate meaningfully. Helen’s experience and pragmatism moved us to our fortnightly Scrum cycle. That’s working rather well. We’ve found Scrum to be far more collaborative and iterative, which is good news.
At Code String, we plan each Sprint, with everyone in the team, to understand goals, set priorities and work out how much effort is required. Members of the team plan the tasks in detail that they will need to deliver a user story. Everyone is aware of the priority for each fortnight and everyone knows what the other team members are doing. Each Sprint needs a name; being slightly geeky, we name ours after Pokémon!
On the client side, we provide a project-wide plan at the outset that shows all of the work split by Sprint from start to finish. It’s about building products in an incremental way to give the client early insight into what they are getting. They are involved in the Sprints too, so they get regular insights – every two weeks. Clients tend to be comfortable when there are many reviews and plenty of clarity.
Every Tuesday we review what’s been done. This gives us great visibility across the organisation and it’s where the team comes up with suggestions on how we might improve the next Sprint. We also use these unmissable meetings to award one team member with the prestigious ‘Star of the Sprint’ accolade!