My Top Delivery Tips

Agile Delivery Manager, Lucy, talks about the good, the bad and the ugly of Software Delivery...

Over the years I have witnessed various methodologies and approaches to software delivery and I’ve seen big failures and great successes alike. Here I share with you what I feel are my very top tips for successful delivery.

If it’s scrum…huddle!

Any top down approach in an agile environment is a missed opportunity. I’ve seen the best productivity happen when scrums work together to achieve a common feature at all stages of a project.

  • Estimate as a team with scrum poker; I guarantee your estimates will be far more accurate after people have discussed the reasons for their estimates! 
  • Encouraging investigative spikes which the team approach together rather than having a documented architecture provided at the start gives the team a sense of ownership to the feature
  • Let the team decide who will do what rather than assigning tasks in planning
  • Let the team own the decision of whether something is ready for development
  • Let the team approve and commit to project timeframes, they are more than likely to stick to them if they helped to determine them!

Define acceptance criteria

Use your judgement here as to whether it is required (don’t waste time writing common sense for tiny features), but if it is and it’s not defined you’re asking for trouble. I’m a big fan of the Nominal (what should happen), Boundary (edge cases) and Erroneous (what shouldn’t happen) acceptance criteria’s as they encourage the team to think outside the box and catch requirements that might be overlooked otherwise. Work with your business stakeholders and the squad to define these and you should see your estimates improve in accuracy and reopens become a thing of the past more often than not.

Agree your meeting outcomes

Inefficiency can fester in Meetings, particularly ones that are reoccurring. Why have a checkpoint meeting if there are no issues? Why not post updates in a comms channel and only meet if it’s deemed necessary? Reduce waste at every possibility by cutting down your meetings which can soon dominate team calendars at the expense of other productivity. Installing a culture that questions a meetings’ outcomes the moment you walk into a room can not only help to determine whether the meeting is required, but provide a focus for discussion to get in and get out as fast as possible.

Choose your methodology wisely, and continuously!

Agile, Waterfall, Kanban, Scrum, Scrumban? They were all created for a reason and the right fit for a team can change over time depending on the priorities and expectations. Research what fits for the current purpose and adapt as you need to meet your delivery goals continuously. Multiple methodologies within a team works too so don’t be afraid to split the teams. I often encourage Kanban for BAU vs Scrum for project work to protect project deadlines.

QA in the sprint

Whether you are in a continuous delivery world or not, getting QA embedded in the sprint is worth the effort. QA team members can become bonus product owners if they are involved from the start and are testing as soon as something is produced. The dreaded reopen a couple of weeks after something is produced impacts future delivery timeframes and has the team in context switching chaos. Once you’ve finally reached this goal…aim for the next mile of test driven development and automated testing. Embrace the change! 

Embrace an Agile culture

If your business is truly agile, your stakeholders won’t be spoon feeding you exactly what to build and then badgering you for updates until something is delivered. Encourage your requesters to define some acceptance criteria only, and then get involved throughout the entire delivery process – standups, retro’s and all. Agile is not just a methodology, it’s a workplace culture which allows people to get involved to ensure the delivery of the right stuff quickly. Your entire business should be agile trained and stood for stand ups.


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