Agile continues to transform development
The advent of LiveSpace, our new digital signage product, provided us with the perfect platform to adopt an Agile approach to our development. We had a long list of features we wanted to implement and needed the right process to ensure we gave customers the maximum value from the product as it grew.
After some months of discussion and planning, we finally made the jump and, in May 2017, began using Scrum. Scrum is an agile framework that is designed to be as simple as possible and seemed to be a natural fit for the size of our development team, offering us the required discipline yet retaining some necessary flexibility.
Aside from the many benefits we hoped would come from this new approach, our main goal was to create a more focused development environment with less unplanned interruptions. This would, in turn, ensure that the most important features of our continuing software development (across our whole product range) were delivered to our customers as efficiently as possible.
We opted to work in 2-week sprint cycles. The consensus among the development team was that this provided sufficient time for meaningful developments whilst retaining focus on the tasks in hand and any imminent software releases.
Each sprint cycle starts with a Sprint Planning meeting where the tasks that will be worked on during the sprint are identified. We hold two Product Backlog Refinement meetings, one halfway through the sprint and another toward the end. In these meetings we decide on the importance and size of any “pending” work, the result of which determines what tasks will make it into the next sprint cycle. When the sprint is finished we hold a Review and Retrospective meeting, providing us with the opportunity to discuss what we achieved during the sprint and identify areas that could be improved or refined. And then the cycle begins again!
We are currently in our 18th sprint and, in just a few months, are already beginning to see huge improvements in our efficiency and focus. By the very nature of software development, we will always be required to react to unexpected support requests and bug fixes but the transparency of the Scrum process means we can always account for this unplanned work and prioritise the affected planned tasks accordingly.