A series of posts by our project manager Ivanna aka Vania goes on. Enjoy the next one!
When I first started working as a project manager in the IT development field, the definition of “project management methods” was really unclear to me. As time went by, I learned more about the main principles in project management, and gained new skills with experience. Most of all, I learned that the right workflow management can lead to very good results — and that’s exactly why Agile is useful.
A few years ago, the word “Agile” was a complete neologism in the project management terminology. Today, many web developing companies use this methodology and consider it to be an essential part of the workflow. For a team that has just decided to try working with Agile, it’s just one of the other words in the long list of different terms such as Scrum, retrospective, product backlog, and burndown-diagram. But for the true Agile admirers, it’s a philosophy and a work style.
Agile — it’s a whole culture, a framework: it’s a bunch of solutions that make the work management of a team a lot easier. No matter what kind of product you develop, where your client is from or whether your team has worked with Scrum before or not, the working process is always result-oriented.
The fact that you can see the results and accomplished tasks at the end of each sprint by using time boxes is what attracts the customers. There are no strictly structured processes here. Open communication and flexible methods are written in the manifest, and, in fact, they are the core message of this methodology.
Today, we’ll speak about the famous companies that ‘worship’ Agile — and what we can learn from them.
Agile Techniques Within Apple
First of all, Apple. This giant use Scrum/Agile without even talking about it. In order to find out why, we will analyze the Agile features in the management of this company. The first thing that is worth mentioning is the Product Owner. It was definitely Steve Jobs, who presided as a product owner at first. He did everything that was needed, projected and looked for something that would please the client. Now, all of those duties are shared by several people, but the company’s philosophy — targeting the end-user — hasn’t changed since then.
Moving on to the next point — small teams. All of the big teams can be divided into the smaller ones. The optimum number of team members according to Scrum is 2 - 12 people. For example, only two engineers wrote the code for the Safari browser conversion for the iPad.
Another secret of success: responsibility. This is not just a word, all of the points are written according to the DRI concept (Directly Responsible Individual). This way, everything from the difficult cross-functional engineering tasks to the property rights questions is clear to everybody.
One more feature is the cycle operation. Here we can draw a parallel with sprints. Every company has its own rhythm, the Apple product development consists of projecting, creating and testing. The product manager brings the beta version of a product from China to Cupertino for testing. And if something goes wrong, the whole process repeats all over again.
Say “No” to bureaucracy — there is no middle ranking in Apple.
Philips Likes Agile Techniques
Another company that is worth mentioning is Philips. It started using Agile after various changes in the firm management. The Agile Center of Excellence’s director Edgar van Zoelen says that this method helped them to move beyond the bureaucracy. The company has several different Agile coaches who use Scrum boards. For example, Philips lighting say that the best results were achieved after dividing the teams into smaller ones, which is also a framework feature. As a result, it was easier for the smaller groups to take responsibility for the product.
Next time, we will continue speaking about the experience of companies that started using flexible development methods. We will find out about Nokia, Intel, and others. So keep a lookout for the most interesting part! To be continued…