A study by BCG found that properly implementing agile can result in:
- 25-35% reduction in costs
- 20% improvement in quality
- 100-200% acceleration in delivery of new products and services
At CloudNow, we adopted the agile scrum methodology at our inception, and all CloudNow projects are delivered through the agile scrum process, helping us deliver greater value to our clients.
Here’s a look at how we have embraced agile scrum, what works well for us, and some of the pitfalls we make it a point to avoid.
What does CloudNow’s Agile Scrum Practice involve?
Through agile scrum, working software is constantly being delivered, feedback is constantly being taken on board, and each iteration brings the product that much closer to perfection.
- At CloudNow, our scrum teams are self-organized and have a maximum of ten members.
- Each team gets together for Sprint Planning meetings to determine the goals for the upcoming Sprint.
- On our daily Standups during each sprint, we catch up to ensure that there are no blockers causing delays.
- The Iteration delivered at the end of the sprint is discussed during our Sprint Review meetings.
- Finally, a Sprint Retrospective is conducted to review and learn from the work done during the sprint.
- We take our 2-week Scrum Cadence extremely seriously, ensuring no deviations under any circumstances.
While a lot of this may sound like your typical agile scrum process anywhere, the key is to strictly follow the timelines and ceremonies of the process without exception.
We’ve worked hard to build this adherence to the process into the culture of the organization, and that’s played an important role in how agile scrum has really taken root at CloudNow.
Building agile principles into the organizational culture
Through our experience, we’ve recognized that the only way to truly master agile scrum is by embracing agile principles at every level of the organization.
Agile scrum is made up of many practices and ceremonies, but it’s more than that. Many development firms get agile scrum wrong because they don’t commit to the process. They use a mix-and-match of waterfall method with some elements of agile scrum thrown in. As a result, their clients see incremental improvement – not true process transformation.
This is a mistake we’ve consciously worked to avoid at CloudNow, gradually building these practices into the organization’s culture. We’ve done this by placing a premium on listening, learning, and changing fast based on feedback. This organizational change has been driven by top management, and is embraced by our executives as part of daily operations. Championing and promoting the cultural shift in the organization, we’ve been conducting regular standups and retrospectives for the marketing, sales and finance teams, as well as our development scrum teams.
As a result of these efforts, the whole team embraces the philosophy, ensuring they work seamlessly together as a solid unit to get the job done right.
Balancing the abstract quest for perfection with measurable metrics
“Perfection is the enemy of progress” – in our experience, this expression encapsulates the foundation of agile scrum development. Perfection is infinitely elusive, and one person’s definition of perfection may not be another’s.
Instead, what we believe drives the delivery of a high quality product is to define the final product precisely through detailed documentation, and then to execute the implementation in the most efficient way possible, with measurable metrics to demonstrate success.
Here are some of the key metrics we measure (in alphabetical order):
- Burndown Charts: Graphical representations of whether or not the team is on schedule to complete the sprint scope
- Customer Satisfaction: Consistent measurement of likelihood to recommend
- Defect Density: Number of errors per unit quantity (for example, a particular number of lines of code)
- Escaped Defects: Number of escaped defects: bugs that are experienced by users in production
- Sprint Goal Success: Whether or not the sprint meets metrics defined during sprint planning
- Return on Investment: Revenue generated by the software divided by cost of the sprints needed to develop it
- Time to Market: Number of sprints before release to production
- Velocity: Amount of work completed per sprint
In addition, qualitative measures of scrum team health are checked, including points raised during daily Standups, Sprint Reviews and Retrospectives.
We maintain comprehensive records of data on all these parameters at CloudNow, which are presented to all stakeholders on a regular basis to ensure transparency and the ability to learn and improve, during the scrum itself.
Aligning Agile with Enterprise Architecture
At the very core of Agile is a pursuit of tactical excellence – achieving specific and well-defined outcomes quickly and efficiently. On the other end of the spectrum is Enterprise Architecture (EA), which takes a strategic approach to the enterprise as a whole, and helps to provide a blueprint for design and development.
The two sound contradictory, but at CloudNow, our experience shows us that Agile and Enterprise Architecture actually play very well together. EA provides the broad outline and direction, while agile handles the details of the applications defined by enterprise architecture.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that truly effective enterprise-wide digital transformation is only possible through the combination of the high-level vision provided by EA, and the smooth, efficient implementation of the defined strategy, enabled by agile.
At CloudNow, experience tells us that agile scrum is indeed the best way to keep expectations aligned and deliver high quality products on time without unexpected hiccups. But as the Scrum Guide puts it, “Scrum is lightweight, simple to understand, and difficult to master”.