Many software development organizations are striving to become more agile. And who can blame them? Successful agile teams are producing higher-quality software that better meets user needs more quickly and at a lower cost than are traditional teams. Besides, who wouldn't want to be more agile? It just plain sounds good, doesn't it? It is almost as though one cannot be too thin, too rich, or too agile. But beyond the buzzword and hype, organizations that take becoming agile seriously by adopting a process such as Scrum are seeing dramatic benefits.

They are seeing significant gains in productivity with corresponding decreases in cost. They are able to bring products to market much faster and with a greater degree of customer satisfaction. They are experiencing greater visibility into the development process, leading to greater predictability. And for them, out-of control, will-it-ever-be-done projects have become a thing of the past.

One company to realize these benefits by adopting Scrum is Founded in 1999 in a San Francisco apartment, is one of the true, lasting dot-com-era success stories. With revenue of more than $450 million and 2,000 employees in 2006, had noticed the frequency of its releases had dwindled from four a year to one a year. Customers were getting less and waiting longer to get it; something needed to be done. The company decided to transition to Scrum. During the first year of making the switch, released 94% more features, delivered 38% more features per developer, and delivered over 500% more value to its customers compared to the previous year (Greene and Fry 2008). In the ensuing two years, revenue more than doubled to more than $1 billion. With results like these, it is not surprising that so many organizations have transitioned to Scrum. Or at least tried to.

I say "tried to" because transitioning to Scrum and other agile methods is hard—much harder than many companies anticipate. The changes required to reap all of the rewards being agile can bring are far reaching. These changes demand a great deal from not only the developers but the rest of the organization as well. Changing practices is one thing; changing minds is quite another.

I've personally witnessed several failed agile adoptions that could have been prevented. The first was in a company that had spent more than a million dollars on its transition effort. Executives brought in outside trainers and coaches and hired five people into an "Agile Office" to which new Scrum teams could turn for advice. The company's failure was the result of thinking that the implications of adopting Scrum would be restricted to only the development organization. The executives who initiated this transition thought that educating and supporting developers would be sufficient. They failed to consider how Scrum would touch the work of salespeople, the marketing group, and even the finance department. Without changes to these areas, organizational gravity pulled the company back where it had started.

For completely different reasons, Josef ultimately failed at introducing Scrum to his company. A newly promoted and first-time project manager, Josef was instantly attracted to Scrum because it fit his natural management style. Josef easily convinced his team—who had all been his peers as little as one month before—to try Scrum on their new project. The project was wildly successful, earning accolades for the team and winning Josef the chance at a much larger project. Josef introduced the new project team to Scrum, and most members were willing to try the new approach. Although those working on the project were happy to use Scrum, some of the functional managers to whom they reported got nervous about what Scrum might mean to their careers. Josef's luck ran out. The functional managers—in particular the directors of quality assurance and database development—banded together and convinced the vice president of engineering that Scrum was inappropriate for projects of the complexity and importance being done in their company.

Caroline fared a little better. A vice president of development in a large data management company, Caroline had more than 200 developers in her organization. After seeing the benefits of Scrum on one project, she excitedly launched an initiative to introduce Scrum across her division. All employees were provided with training or coaching. Within a few months nearly all teams were producing working software at the end of each two-week sprint. This was great progress. When I visited this company a year later, though, the employees had failed to make any additional headway. To be sure, teams were producing higher-quality software and doing it a bit faster than they had before starting with Scrum, but her company's gains were only a fraction of what they could have been. Caroline's company had forgotten that continuous improvement is part of Scrum.

Frightening, isn't it? Each of these failures was a well-intentioned effort to transition to Scrum.Yet all the good intentions in the world could not keep them from failing. Don't worry, though. Transitioning to Scrum may be hard, but it's entirely possible with the right approach. In this chapter we examine why transitioning to any agile development process, including Scrum, is especially difficult.

Source of Information : Pearson - Succeeding with Agile Software Development Using Scrum 2010


Subscribe to Developer Techno ?
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner