Agile process

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When someone mentions the word “Manifesto”, most people run in the opposite direction. At Shift, we embraced it when we adopted agile methodology and its 68-word manifesto as our approach to not only project management but also our culture.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.

Through this work we have come to value:

- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

- Working software over comprehensive documentation

- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

- Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

As Shift continued to take on longer term, multi-faceted clients and software builds, we needed to reassess our approach to how we worked together internally and with our clients externally. It didn’t take much convincing across the company when we decided to follow the scrum-based framework of agile.

But more specifically, what is Agile?

Agile is defined as the ability to adapt and respond to change. Through agile development we utilize an iterative framework where requirements and solutions adapt and change through collaboration between our cross-functional teams. At Shift we use a scrum framework so Scrum and Agile are one in the same on our teams.

Annnd what is scrum?

Scrum is a process framework for developing and maintaining complex products while adhering to Agile’s core principles. At a high level, scrum outlines a set of roles, meetings, and tools that work together to help teams shape and manage work or in our case, software builds. There are three roles that outline responsibilities for those who are part of the scrum team; a product owner, the development team, and a ScrumMaster. At Shift, we have additional team members, delivery and account leads, who help support the scrum team and client. Roles provide definition around responsibilities for each team member to effectively deliver work.

The product owner is the source of truth for all requirements of the build and how features are prioritized. They are also the point of contact for bug fixes and questions about requirements or features. They work closely with the development team to maintain the product backlog and schedule releases. At Shift, product owners are a combination of a key stakeholder from the client’s team and Account leads from our team who work together to define requirements.

The development team is the backbone of the entire project. This team is responsible for building and testing the product while also making decisions around how best to do the work. Agile allows the development team to have a say in how the work breaks down into tasks and who they are allocated to.

The ScrumMaster is the glue that holds the team together. They are responsible for facilitating ceremonies, maintaining the productivity of the development team, and overall, ensuring that the process runs smoothly. Delivery leads often take on this role at Shift and work closely with product owners and the development team.

Each role plays an integral part of scrum meetings and ceremonies where they continuously define and refine tasks required for the build. Here is an example of a possible meeting cadence.

Agile Ceremonies

How does Shift incorporate scrum?

We match the right people to each project and dig in to discover and develop a solution that fits customer needs and client goals. Following an agile process ensures we gather the right requirements upfront but also encourages refinement and adaption throughout development cycles.

Understand + define

How do you solve problems you don’t understand? That’s rhetorical. After digging into the requirements and aligning on what we’re working to achieve with the product owner, we’ll create a project roadmap that further defines timelines and initiatives. Put simply, a roadmap is a responsive plan of action that defines milestones throughout the project.

Ideate + validate

Once we are aligned with the task at hand then we are ready to strategize and conceptualize. We’ll create wireframes, designs and clickable prototypes to start to visualize the solution. We’ll also demo the product with users or key stakeholders, when it makes sense. Demoing prototypes allows for collaborative feedback in hopes of “working out the kinks” before development begins. Work smarter not harder as the saying goes.

Create + iterate

This phase is where scrum project management framework really takes shape as we develop in highly collaborative sprints with frequent releases of work. Our team will work closely with the product owner to demo and review work every other week during sprint planning and define requirements weekly during backlog refinement.

Remember the roadmap? We’ll revisit this asset each sprint to make sure we are still aligned with the same goals, milestones, and timing as they may have changed.

Innovate + enhance

After the last sprint cycle is complete, we don’t waste time on collecting feedback for improvements. After launch is when good products can become stellar. We take real-world user insights and turn them into meaningful product updates.

Interested in learning more about how our Agile process can work best for your business? Let’s chat.

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