The importance of applying agile to large projects

Senior Agile Project Manager, Simon Carter, explains how he uses agile and applies it to large projects

For Carter, a typical day in the office consists of embracing the three pillars of empiricism. First, there’s inspection with the daily stand-ups, where he and his team stand up and inspect where they’re up to and what is going to happen that day.

“We all know that transparency is critical here, so no stone goes unturned when we look at what’s going on. We then pick up the impediments and what we need information on; adjusting plans accordingly and using a professional network to ensure everyone gets the help they need,” said Carter.

Professional networks & governance

“There’s also a lot of sitting at my desk updating reports and ensuring that we maintain the right level of governance. The focus is on delivery for the project teams; the wider organisation needs specific information to provide us with the support we need.”

Carter finds working in an “agile way” useful because it is a customer-focused mindset that seeks to involve the customer and enables a responsiveness to change. There are many different tools and frameworks that all embrace taking an empirical response and adapting to how teams work to deliver the “fantastic products” his organisation use in its ongoing agile transformation and adoption programme.

Building better partnerships

His key agile principles are focusing on people to build better partnerships. Be it customers, or the development team.

Carter commented: “I provide the structure and support for everyone to work collaboratively, looking at the quality of what is being produced, not just at testing as a separate aspect.

“We, as a team, then examine quality from the unit level up to full release. The focus on quality has meant that the scope of testing is always expanding, and using methods such as kanban and embracing lean philosophies have been life-changing.”

Nevertheless, moving from a traditional waterfall and strict stage boundary system to a collaborative approach has been game-changing, according to Carter.

“My experiences of using agile have been filled with innovative and enjoyable creative solutions to problems. I push forward agile processes by getting buy-in from everyone involved. Nothing happens without the people being on board,” he revealed.

Implementation of scrum

“This quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery sums up the approach up best: If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and assign them tasks and work, instead, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

CDL Limited adapts the Spotify model of the scaled scrum, with the software being developed by many squads and each squad owning a key functional aspect of the software.

“The squads collaborate with each other to manage dependencies and ensure quality assurance for the end product. There’s an active community of proponents of scrum who work diligently to assist the business in the implementation of scrum,” he continued.

He also noted that a typical scrum takes two weeks, which is “long enough for the team to get their teeth into features, and not too long to wait before a shippable release – it’s the sweet spot for focus and delivery.”

Written by Leah Alger