Have you ever set up the best-practice processes and hired the best team, but the project failed? Maybe the satisfaction level was below expectation? There might have been something missing. Let us go through the entire process of starting the project for the outsource companies, and find out the possible reasons. In this article, we will point to the main steps towards a successful project and agile work process with Scrum.
How does Trembit lead to Discovery?
We have already described what is included in the discovery phase, but what stands behind it? How does the Project Management Office (PMO) team receive a ‘Go’ for the new project?
Well, the Sales team is requesting to provide the preliminary work breakdown structure (WBS) and rough estimates for the potential Customer. Of course, prior to estimating, the team performs an investigation and asks the main questions regarding the flow, business case, and desired outcome. At this step, we have already obtained a general idea of the project and are able to suggest the best approach and implementation details.
Meanwhile, our Sales team and the Customer chat on the budget and timelines. It is mandatory to have a vast knowledge of the deadlines, other commitments, and timelines to suggest the correct development methodology and calculate costs and timing properly (here read as ‘deliver the desired scope within the definite period of time’). Otherwise, both parties may face trouble that is not in the interest of all stakeholders.
Having in mind that the project should be delivered at a certain date, it is already ‘tied’ to the commitment and the team has to be very precise in estimating and implementing the scope. Every working day and hour is on a count. But luckily Scrum allows ‘squeezing’ maximum from the available working time (of course, if planned properly). So, when being sure both parties are safe, the contracting and discovery stage successfully begins.
But what does success look like? Of course, it depends on the objective feedback. But the proven thing is that the business wants to receive the agreed scope within the agreed period. For this reason, we should consider development processes as a baseline for the increment delivery. How to achieve this? Read below.
Scrum planning and development
In the current world, there is rarely a case when during project implementation nothing will change. We are all seeking the best solution and understand the importance of the outcome. For this reason, an agile approach in the project lifecycle is a good match. It allows moving towards the goal, having a clear vision. Most of the outsourcing and product companies run Scrum for projects.
We have recently revised the Scrum notions. Now let’s move forward with the stakeholders and deliverables.
The Customer and Development team, along with Scrum Master and Product owner are considered as the project’s stakeholders. A Product Owner is usually a Customer, or his representative, who is responsible for the product. Therefore, the development team is now a dedicated team that works together with the Customer smoothly, as a whole. In this case, the Customer is involved as he is responsible for the product ownership. He builds and describes the requirements, makes them detailed and understandable, but moreover – valuable. Another point of consideration is prioritization, performed by the Product owner. Who better knows the necessity of this or that feature for the project?
The Development team and Scrum master help Product owners with requirements, prioritization, and conduct grooming sessions to polish. Also, the development team might suggest new features or add the technical tasks required to achieve the goal. It is important to establish regular feedback sessions and consider the agile approach in planning so that all stakeholders are on the same page and move forwards in the same direction.
Due to close cooperation between the Customer/Product owner, the Development team and Scrum master, the product increments are delivered iteratively. The increment is a testable unit or a bunch of features, testable and already usable, which is the main goal of each project.
A step-by-step approach in delivering the product allows implementing Proof of Concept (POC) or sharing the results of Research & Development (R&D) as early as possible. Besides, the users might see and test the product shortly.
What does it mean for the business? Consider the following list according to the milestones:
- POC. Scrum approach allows delivering a feasible solution of the product. This smallest unit might then be extended to the next valuable version, either the direction can be updated according to the early feedback.
- Prototype/hypothesis is approved or disapproved – both results are valuable for the product and make the team review the concept. The Customer and the team already know whether the product should be built in a current way and whether it should be used as it is.
- Minimum viable product (MVP) confirms whether the product should be built and is viable for the business.
- Proof of market fit. This milestone aims at the market to validate the value and proposition, along with the business model.
Taking into account the aforementioned, all stakeholders can receive the project result much earlier than the project completion. It is an obvious advantage for startups, where the Agile approach is commonly used.
Which opportunities can the Customer have when selecting Scrum methodology for the project? Let’s refer to the Agile manifesto.
There are clearly defined advantages, especially the ones that refer to the changes. The milestones for studying the market value require competent change management. The manifesto states that the changes are welcomed even at the later stages of the project. Also, consider the opportunity of adjusting the scope even in the middle of the milestone.
Since Scrum gives both business and development opportunities to move with small steps towards the goal, the stakeholders are at the vantage point. Collaboration gives more when there’s an enabling environment and a constant pace.
Costs and expenses
To run the Scrum, businesses need to understand the costs and expenses of this methodology as despite everything being agile, the project’s budget is limited.
Usually, the scope of work is measured in the story points, or man-hours. To calculate the costs and expenses, multiply the number of man-hours in a sprint with the average salary per hour. This will correspond to the total costs of a sprint. When dividing the total sprint costs by the average velocity of the last few sprints, it gives us the costs of one story point.
However, when working with an hourly rate, the calculations are easier and equal the man-hour rate multiplied by the sprint duration.
In Trembit we suggest the following ‘agile’ options of the payment:
- Half month prepayment (usually for the POC, R&D, Prototype phases)
- At the beginning of the month after the work is done
Agile now affects the stakeholders’ mindset and it’s worthy. Changes keep the world running, so let’s see what will change for the business and software development companies when choosing Scrum.
- Scrum best fits for the progressive delivery of the software. (Remember POC, R&D milestones for the early users’ and market feedback)
- A cross-functional and self-organized team closely cooperates with the Customer/Product owner during each step of the development.
Note: Refuse from the agile approach only if the scope of the project is 100% clear and the investments are already received. The fixed price model works best here.
- Allows applying best agile practices (planning, retrospective meetings, fixed scope)
- Ability to use best technical practices (introduce auto-tests, CI/CD, test-driven development (TDD), etc.)
- Make Customers satisfied with a valuable product asap.
Summing up, scrum methodology has its peculiarities and limitations. However, its impact is great.