I was recently introduced to the Accredited Scaled Agile Practitioner (ASAP) from a colleague at work (thanks Justin).
At first glance, this seems similar to other Agile Certifications – with one interesting piece, applicants must write a “Thesis” pertaining to Agile Methodologies.
Just the thought of writing something on subject would weed out many, and although this would not unseat any of the PMI Certifications, I do think will help maintain the exclusivity.
So, as I began preparing for the – I put together this piece, and am placing here for peer-review.
Implementing Agile Practices In A Support Oriented World
In today’s world, more and more organizations are making the transition to Agile software development, but can some of these same methodologies be applied to Support Structure?
It has been my experience that they can, and that this can make your teams more effective and efficient.
I present below, three Agile Practices that can be implemented into an organization that contains both Software Development and a Support Group.
The Daily Scrum
The first take-away from Agile practices, and the easiest to implement, is the Daily Scrum. In a development world, this is a daily 15-minute meeting where each participant highlights the previous days accomplishments, what is on their schedule for that day and is there anything impeding their progress.
In the Support World, this type of meeting is just as critical.
It allows team members to understand the workloads, problems and achievements of their peers. It brings clarity to the teams daily objectives and highlights any showstoppers or big picture issues that may arise, and it provides immediate insight to team leaders as to what is actually going on in their teams.
Efficient and Face-to-Face Communication
It is often said (rightly or wrongly) that software developers sit in an ivory tower and have little insight to the real-world applications of their product. Agile methodology strives to correct that by having Product Owners as customer facing advocates. I put forward, that having an additional voice in Planning and/or Scrum of Scrum meetings could be beneficial, and that voice would be from the Support Group.
The development teams will not only receive valuable feedback from customer facing teams as to how external perception of the application, but also how it is applied in unique environments, possibly giving unique perspective that can be re-applied or refactored into the product, especially as it is often the work of the Support Group that turns into User Stories as they escalate defects in the product.
Definition of Done
The Agile process that Support Groups should be included in, is that of Definition of Done.
As mentioned before in INCLUSSION, Support Groups have a unique insight in how Product X is being utilized in a customer/end-user’s environment. By including the Support Group in the Definition of Done, they continue to bring that insight to the table – possibly by validating the current increment against set customer facing scenarios or previously reported incidents.
We utilized all of the examples in my previous position of Director of Technical Services, and this had an immediate and positive impact.
The Daily Scrum removed the ambiguity of workloads and impediments of the day-to-day workflow, and allowed management to better schedule and adjust as needed.
Efficient and Face-to-Face Communication allowed another voice into the collaborative environment of SCRUM, bringing a different and unique perspective as the Support Groups voice was heard throughout the organization.
By adding the Support Group to the Definition of Done, this helped expedite deliverable increments/releases as they assisted in QA Testing and verified fixes towards reported issues. This verification ensured that customer problems were being addressed in each increment, and increased customer satisfaction with a more reliable application release.
Ultimately, but implementing Agile practices in multi-team environments, you bring cohesion to an organization by unifying methodologies, terminology and practices. Teams then can perform cross-functioning tasks when applicable and overall efficiency dramatically increases.