Back in 2007, my colleague, Marc Wolenik, started a Microsoft Dynamics CRM consulting business, Webfortis, and I was the first consultant he hired. It was a perfect match of skills – he was fantastic at selling software and partnering with companies like Microsoft, and I enjoyed consulting with these software customers and delivering their software solutions.
Microsoft started bringing us into deals and we were able to work through contractors in the US and overseas to build solutions. Over time, and many additional contractors later, we realized we needed to hire local individuals that had very specific talents around software selling and delivery – Marc & I needed to clone ourselves and scale to meet demand.
We started hiring highly-skilled individuals and Microsoft (and our other strategic partners) started bringing us into enterprise deals that required complex solutions.
We were clearly in over our heads and our newly-founded software delivery framework started to crumble. We started missing key deliverables, timelines, budgets, expectations, and myriad other things that can occur when not running on all cylinders – when not fully understanding project management.
Agile and Scrum will fix all your problems – that’s what I was hearing from others; although in retrospect, none of those people had actually implemented Agile and Scrum properly. So, I decided to pick up a book I’d been hearing a lot about “Succeeding with Agile” by Mike Cohn, because I was hopeful that it would solve all of my software delivery issues. I got about 50 pages into this book and tossed it aside – this book was all about PEOPLE! I needed real answers, not a bunch of hippy dippy people stuff.
Fast-forward about a year, and we started a new Agile and Scrum initiative at Webfortis that at least started embracing some of the Scrum “ceremonies” (meetings). There were immediate positive results with this approach, primarily around daily commitments to other team members, and also around collaborating daily with the teams.
Unfortunately, we realized over time that we were lacking proper communication between teams and from managers to employees – we were lacking the “Agile” aspect of Agile and Scrum.
Eventually, we realized that we must first implement Agile (a mindset that embraces value, flexibility, failure, collaboration, and teamwork), and then implement Scrum. Everyone must philosophically be on the same page before we can attempt to implement a software delivery framework like Scrum.
After many hundreds of engagements since this time, it’s become apparent to me that the terms Agile and Scrum are not properly understood and thrown around to the point of complete obfuscation.
My goal with your organization, is to crystallize these concepts, coach your management teams upon embracing an Agile philosophy, and then focus upon your Software Delivery Playbook utilizing Scrum.