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TWG Kicks Off 2010 with Scrum!

TWG would like to formally welcome you to 2010 and talk a little bit about something we’ve decided to kick off the new year with: Scrum!

Scrum is an agile framework that allows teams to become self organizing and focus on delivering high business value.

In 2010, TWG is committed to delivering working, high business value, high quality software, faster.  This is something Scrum enables us to do.

Why Change?

While TWG has previously used plenty of agile practices, the time has come to formalize the process so that we can get all the benefits of being an agile organization.

How Is Agile Different?

Many agencies and web development companies typically insist on gathering every single requirement up front, locking them down, forcing the client to sign off, swearing that these requirements will never change.  We now know better.  Requirements will change, we learn as we go, and we will inevitably discover new and more valuable features as the project comes together.  TWG is using Scrum to build partnering relationships with our clients, so that we can see and adapt to requirements as they emerge, and deliver better and more useful websites and software.

Build Less Software…

So how do you build high value, high quality software, quickly?  Build less, but build it better!

This may seem unusual, but remember, when you start a project, application or a web site, you don’t really know what you or your users want until you get your hands on it and start playing with it.  This is normal.  So instead of trying to plan it all up front, we’re going to be working on building the things you know right now, and get them done, Done, DONE!

Nothing gets feedback better than working software, so why wait until the end of your project to see it?  Once you’ve seen it and learned from it, you can add to it, change it or even scrap it!

At TWG, we’re starting Scrum with 1 week sprints.  These are time boxed working periods where at the end, our goal is to deliver working software, as opposed to things like documents, mock-ups or in-progress features.  This is a tough, aggressive process that we’re working on, but we feel in the end it will enable us to deliver better, more valuable software, faster.

…Get more value (rather than a laundry list).

Many web development companies will work with you to look around at all the sites that are out there, collect a large laundry lists of  possible features that you might want your system to do, and then give a quote on building that.  You sign off, and the work gets started.  You wait potentially months until all the features are built, the schedule might slip two or three times, and when you finally get it, you discover you really didn’t end up with the software you really hoped for or needed.

Not only that, but while the software was being built, the market changed and some features became irrelevant or new features became more critical.  Too late to change now.  I guess you’re stuck.

What if you had your list of features prioritized in order of importance/ROI and what if you got the most important features first each iteration – say every week?  Maybe you’d find out you didn’t need to build those last few features since they weren’t all that valuable anyway, or maybe you’d find you could swap some of those less valuable ones out for new ones.  Who wouldn’t want that kind of flexibility?

What Comes Next?

This transition is a work in progress and we’re going to give you regular updates and insights into our experiences with Scrum.  You’ll get to see some of the nitty-gritty details like our task board, and burn up charts, as well as some of the struggles and discoveries we make as we go down this road.  We hope you’ll keep your eye on our blog and provide us with any feedback or experiences you’ve had.

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