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Technology

Feb 12, 2015

Kicking off a project – or what type of Agile works best

Author: Matei Puiu

I’m a firm believer in the Agile potential, and have recently had another opportunity to see its power of driving efficiency. 3 weeks back, we kicked-off a mobile pilot-project, with a group of 4 interns that needed to learn how to build a mobile app from scratch.

We had to develop a timesheet application, and decided users would enjoy flexible access, so they’d be able to fill in the timesheet from anywhere, on any device – especially since it’s not usually a task employees hold very dear.

Technical story short, they kicked-off with some wireframes, done directly by them in some emulators. After 3 days, they were already showing their work to the Product Owners, got instant feedback, needed to rebuild a bit, but everything was done directly on a virtual mobile device, in good efficient Agile fashion, everything live-and-for-real. I should mention that the team is collocated, the 4 team members work in the same room most of the time, and the Product Owner is 10 feet away and can be pulled in at request.

Everything needs to be built in this first week. Including the team. They had known each other for some time, but now that they all needed to work on the same app, as a team, everything changes.

After a week of wireframes, we got to do an initial Sprint Planning and 2-3 daily scrums. The tasks were there, they were doing them, talking about them all the time, while struggling with platforms set-up and playing around with some ideas and implementation options. Another 2-3 days later, I got caught-up with other tasks, and didn’t get a chance to talk to them for quite a few days. However, after a meeting with their technical mentor and the Product Owner, I was happy to find out that everyone was extremely satisfied with what they were building. So I saw no reason to bother them – it seemed that the seeds of my Agile training had already begun to grow on their own, so there was no need to interfere and fix something that wasn’t broken.

At the end of this 3rd week the 1st of 3 User Stories was completed, and everybody was thrilled. In fact, I remembered one thing about my own first project: all I had ever wanted from it was to get a chance to play with lines of code, to experiment and to enjoy myself. That’s what the interns were doing. And while all the Agile training in the world can’t teach anyone the fundamental love for the job, the Agile methodologies helped channel their enthusiasm, turning an interns’ learning experience that would have otherwise most likely failed on a communicational and methodological level, into an actual, functional mobile application. In my experience, the best Agile is flexible, adapts to every circumstance at a time, and is custom, it’s the one that works best for that particular team and project, promoting efficiency without overburdening with unnecessary formalities.

Share your thoughts with me! Have you witnessed the Agile power to drive efficiency, as client or as supplier? If you haven’t, would you be willing to transition to this working model? Leave us a comment, or contact us via email – and subscribe to our RSS feed for more Agile debates.

Comments

  1. Vlad Sorin says:

    Hi,

    Very interesting article ! I have also become a fan of Agile methodology after working more than 13 years in Waterfall projects, either as developer or PM. My Agile experience until now was interesting but very challenging because the reality and the theory were two “concepts” which were separated by a whole world of impediments ! To be more clear, co-located team, common language, common culture, flexibility, pro-activity, motivation etc. are all pre-requisites which I did not have yet “all at once” in my Agile projects. The mixture had until now was different everytime. It would be interesting to continue this first article with more details about how much knowledge about Agile has got this team you mention, how much pressure they had about delivery, how much knowledge about mobile they had, what roles have those 4 guys played, how did they decide the roles split and what was the most challenging aspect(s) for them during those 3-4 weeks until they were able to delver their 1st story of the application. Thanks.

    1. Matei Puiu says:

      Hi Sorin,

      Thank you so much for your patience in reading my post.. and for sharing your questions which come from your big Agile experience. I will for sure do a follow-up post with latest news from our talented team of interns. Until then, let me just confirm that yes, you are right, the mix – co-located team, common language, common culture, flexibility, pro-activity, motivation – is hard to get in real, but nevertheless a start-up team needs a lot of freedom, especially if they are juniors who are always more flexible in adopting new things and doing them in their own way. Pressure it was in terms of fixed sprint length and pretty clear requirements needed to be addressed, they did a Fundamental Agile training of 1 day before this project, and after that just Agile coaching and facilitating during the project. Also, an extensive Mobile training but without any previous working experience in either Mobile or Software Development. This is actually the most amazing ramp-up, from a tech side, how quickly some talented group of juniors can ramp up if they get solid foundation training. And to close, maybe the most challenging aspect during those 3-4 weeks was to estimate their tasks. Which is again very normal, because they are juniors in the technology as well as the Agile cadence..Thank you again Sorin and please come up with any follow-up questions you might have and I’ll try to get them answered. Thanks!

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