I was once asked to help a small team adopt agile practices and improve the way they worked. I was glad to help but needed a place to start. What, I wondered, did the team need help with.
At a meeting with the senior business manager, he told me their primary problem was one of quality. They don’t have too many of what we might recognise as projects, but instead regularly deliver to production a number of largely unrelated small changes. What the business manager told me was that what was delivered to production often bore little resemblance to what had been requested. Why, l asked. Because when the change request was submitted, it disappeared into an IT ‘black hole’ and no one saw it again until it went live. Ah Hah!
What they were expecting me to do was implement agile practices and behaviours within the existing team. What they needed, however, was what is at the heart of Agile, and is one of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto – “Business people and developers must work
together daily throughout the project.”
Short introductory meetings with the managers of each of the business areas showed that only recently had they had any direct contract with the IT development team, their new project manager being largely responsible for the positive change. They were all immensely pleased with this and when I suggested that they provide “business owners” for each required change, they all enthusiastically agreed.
Since then, I have provided those new business owners (Business Ambassadors) a one-day overview of agile principles, behaviours and practices and the need for collaboration and frequent communication across all roles. It was apparently well received and they will shortly be attending daily stand-ups, requirements gathering workshops, planning sessions, demonstrations and retrospectives. They will soon be an integral part of the development team and ensuring that every requested change meets the acceptance criteria they themselves define.
I look forward to seeing this teams future efforts.