Agile in IT companies. How to see the forest behind the trees
In this article, I wanted to talk a bit about how Agile is used in IT companies. And let's start right away with the main thing: for most of these Agile companies in the form of Scrum, Kanban, Lean or XP - this is not just an ephemeral atmosphere of universal flexibility, but quite a concrete production process for creating and delivering software.
If the task is purely productive, then the teams that create the product, as a rule, do not fully know what the market needs. Usually they have a certain vision and a set of hypotheses, through which the vision is tested. And here Scrum is best suited, since hypothesis testing requires constant communication with end users and continuous improvements based on the feedback received.
A product approach using Scrum can also be used in IT service companies when they make a product for the customer or along with it according to the above logic. Only such product stories for service companies are a project and their internal metrics are different from product company metrics.
In both types of IT companies, there may also be projects that are implemented using Kanban. These are, as a rule, support projects starting after the product is created and end customers started using it. Kanban in this case is used to ensure that the value stream, consisting of incoming tasks to the support service, passes faster and more efficiently through the various stages of processing, which create value for the end user.
In addition, Scrum is also used at the earlier stages of product creation: for example, at the stage of clarification of initial requirements, where they are collected, detailed and formalized. Such work also requires an iterative approach, with regular feedback from interested parties in order to ensure that all the necessary requirements are collected, processed, prepared for development, and so on. After this stage of research, the collected initial requirements go into development, where they turn into a product, through the same Scrum.
But you need to understand that in custom development, in addition to purely product projects, there are others. It often happens that a client comes up with a specific business problem, the solution of which is a limited budget and a limited time for implementation.
Here Scrum in its pure form is not very suitable, because it does not know how to answer before the start of development to the question of when will it all end and how much will it cost. The answer can only be obtained after two or three development sprints, which are required to measure team power. But most customers want to know the dates and cost in advance, because it is a matter of budgets and timelines, which many large companies still operate on. Here you have to use other project management methodologies, for example, PMI-PmBok, Prince2 and the like. Using such methodologies, the predicted duration, cost and volume of tasks required to create a product are determined.
But at the implementation stage it’s already better to use Scrum in order to develop the product iteratively, regularly demonstrating functionality to the client and receiving feedback from him, which is taken into account in the following iterations to create the product.
Thus, for Agile IT companies in any of its implementations - this is not a fad, it is a necessity today. Of course, there are such IT projects where it is difficult to organize feedback and the increment of product development or they will not have the strength inherent in them, but there are not so many such projects. So if you work in IT and have not yet encountered Scrum, then this is only a matter of time. And you should not be afraid of it. Scrum in IT is not only values and principles, but also a well-established production process, which is the basis of business for various IT companies.
Aleksey Kuksyonok, co-author and host of the Profession SCRUM-master online course shared the experience on using Agile in IT companies .
The first free seminar of the course “Profession SCRUM-master” will be held July 9 at 19-00 .
Alexey Kuksyonok - Project Manager at DataArt, a member of Inc. 500 I 5000 (the fastest growing companies in the USA), in the list of 1000 companies "inspiring Britain." He participated in three dozen projects in food and service companies with the number of employees from 2 to 60 people, implemented, as well as using flexible methodologies (Scrum, Kanban), so predictive (PMI-PmBoK)..