Agile Maturity: Reflecting on our Maturity Journey

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By Agile Development February 2, 2018

Being an agile company is a lot about the journey, or ‘path to agility’, and the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to reflect on 4mation Technologies’ progress in terms of Agile Maturity.

Let’s have a look at what 4mation has achieved in the last few months, where we are headed, and most importantly, our goals.

Our Agile Goals

Setting goals is the first step towards agile maturity. It helps keep track of progress and helps teams work towards the same objectives

Our goals as a company are:

  • High performing squads & teams
  • Self-sufficient and self-organising squads & teams
  • Clear understanding of roles and responsibilities
  • Creating a culture where we value people over processes, and processes over tools
  • Creating slack time for continuous learning through improvements
  • Improved client collaboration
  • Increased team wellbeing and confidence
  • Support 4mation’s projected growth by scaling up in a healthy way

Our Achievements the Last Four Months

The 4mation team has worked really hard (and smart) to reach a higher level of agile maturity. I have collaborated with scrum masters, tribe leads and team members. Improvements were based on our observations of immediate issues or applications of fundamental agile principles.

By following this approach, we’ve achieved the following:

  1. We have identified values for each squad or team.
  2. Members of each squad created a social contract to define the ways they want to work together, and have a consensus on day-to-day interactions.
  3. We have remastered our Definition of Ready and Definition of Done concepts to receive good quality information and deliver good quality software.
  4. We hold daily stand-ups, talking face to face to generate a feeling of unity and energize ourselves for the day.
  5. Each squad has a Daily Goals Board that tangibly declares the commitments of the day, and helps review their progress.
  6. We all now have a common consensus of how to create a living specifications backlog. We use Confluence and JIRA for documenting and managing requirements, user stories, acceptance criteria and ballparks.
  7. We’ve had our first monthly squad & team retrospective sessions and identified our action items.
  8. We have reviewed how we were over-committing to our clients in each sprint and rectified our thinking. Now we commit roughly 60% of our time to new features, 20% to clearing up technical debt and allow 20% for unknowns.

What Is in Progress?

From now on, we have an Agile Chapter which is officially replacing the Project Management Office. The Agile Chapter includes all of our scrum masters and product owners. They are working on keeping the company agile and moving towards greater agile maturity.

The Agile Chapter is now working on the following items:

  1. We are now reviving our backlog grooming approach and figuring out the best practice for this exercise.
  2. We are defining responsibilities of Squad Members, Scrum Masters and Product Owners, which we’ll hang visibly on the office’s walls
  3. We are improving our Scrum Master / Business Analyst hiring process so we can find the best servant leaders for our squads.
  4. We are providing training on soft skills, especially a shift in mindset from command and control to empowering each other through collaboration
  5. We are fully supporting the 180-day plan as the Agile Chapter and working towards training up our clients to become Product Owners which will create a dynamic collaborative environment.

The Agile Chapter’s Backlog

Since we’re all on an agile journey, it’s important to look at the next steps in order to keep teams striving for improvement.

In the next few months, the priority items of the Agile Chapter will be:

  1. Monitor and improve our sprint planning sessions
  2. Monitor and improve our standups
  3. Monitor and improve our retrospective sessions
  4. Review all social contracts and cross-pollinate good ideas across 4mation
  5. Define tribe and squad missions
  6. Create more visual boards to broadcast our progress within projects. These will include squad wellbeing and confidence scores.
  7. More training on Agile Mindset, Scrum and Kanban frameworks
  8. Empower our squads to become more self-sufficient and self-organizing
  9. Move some of our smaller clients to Kanban
  10. More team-building exercises
  11. Improve our one-on-one meetings so that they are more inspiring and growth-oriented
  12. Support our Quality Assurance resources’ transition into Business Analyst and/or Scrum Master roles
  13. Train our developers to test better through a technique called spotting
  14. Finalise our UX and Agile Processes marriage and roll this approach to all squads

Transitioning to agile, and achieving maturity is a work in progress. It’s important to be able to reflect on a team’s maturity level. Pat yourself on the back for your team’s achievements, look towards improvement, and remember your overall goals throughout the process!

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