It has been a long time since we started applying agile methodologies in intive-FDV. Today, our mindset is deeply linked to Agile, despite which some of the classic challenges of this approach continue to prevail. That is why we wanted to understand its nitty-gritty: find out where we are today and to define where we are going. With that aim in mind, we consulted two great intive-fdevians agilists – Pablo Sánchez and Facundo Navarro– (with the always attentive look of our dear Nati Davidovich) who told us their viewpoints. This is the outcome!
The beginning of agilism
The project Facu is working on –a leading application in the fintech sector- was one of the first with “100% adherence to Scrum”, which means that people were trained and the benefits of working with agile methodologies were gradually incorporated. Besides utilizing Scrum as a framework, some XP practices were adopted to take care of quality.
“Later, more people started joining the company, Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters who started replicating and incorporating the practice to different projects. Today we are working on several projects with the Scrum framework”, states Facu.
The methodology then expanded to other areas. There were deeper changes at an organizational and cultural level. Agilism reached HR, and became what we call today People Culture and Development, and the Recruiting team which defined and adopted its own agile methodology, tailoring it for their specific needs.
“It is said that Scrum is very easy to explain and very difficult to implement”, declares Facu, “it was necessary to train the development team for a new way of working towards this idea of a self-managed team. For every company, the challenge was first to define the process, and what we call agilism and how to start implementing it satisfactorily”.
“We work by objectives, there is no micromanagement. The team estimates how much effort is called for”. Although this argument of internal sale is actually tempting, there are difficulties to build a team of diverse seniorities and different profiles. “For instance, on this project apart from the development and testing team, we also have a devops team and this team had to choose Kanban, because Scrum was not practical for the day-to-day work”, assures Facu.
The concerns of many people when the work was flowing, and when seeing the post-its stuck all over, in this “kindergarten” –as Facu calls it while laughing-, derived in an infinite amount of activities. We made different type of workshops: on estimation, on planning, on facilitation. We trained many as Agile Product Owners, Scrum Masters or Scrum Developers with agile testing. We even have katas in the Teams, our practice communities centered in different technologies. We are based on Kleer to train and certify people.
- We have more satisfied customers, who first suffered from not having that “control” they used to have, but today in exchange they are getting a better product, with a better quality and available for the market in a shorter time. They also have higher visibility about the process. “The customer becomes a member of the Scrum team, and consequently, the visibility is complete and the transparency is given in a natural way.” Pablo.
- We prioritize individuals over tools.“The project management is distributed among all members, the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the development team. This improves the management by empowering everyone to achieve the best of the product, the customer and everybody involved, collectively.” Pablo
- We are very flexible, we do not have a rigid, pyramid-shaped structure. We pay careful attention to all the expectations of the team members regarding their career plan and what they want to do, and we try to filter the pressure so that everyone can work comfortably.
- We foster self-management. “The teams perform introspective analyses learning along the process, which leads to a steady improvement in an organic way, both for the company and the teams and people.” Pablo
- We have multidisciplinary teams. There is an Agile Coach for the Scrum Masters. These are facilitators for the team and then you also have the technical leaders that leverage the rest: back, front, product owners, QA, QA automation, Devops, Project Managers, etc. “We have a bit of everything and that is part of the fun, the fact of not just being multidisciplinary teams but also multifunctional”. Facu “In the teams we try to play around a bit, researching, trying, making people develop inquisitiveness and evolve towards T-shaped profiles, allowing them to move within their skills in different dimensions.” Pablo
Challenges remain nowadays, and one of them is that of self-management or maturity. “We are still working on that ownership question, to be owners of the solution of a project, so that the concept of a self-managed team is well understood”, says Facu.
“A great challenge is to sustainably go along with the growth the company is having and we foresee for the forthcoming years. For that, we are supported mainly by agile values and we also explore different techniques of scalability, such as Nexus, LeSS and Scrum de Scrums, without losing sight of the first”, states Pablo, speaking about other current challenges.
The job is never finished: “the day you think it is over it is because you are missing something, you are missing the chance to improve it”, expresses Facu.
That is why we take into account all the initiatives (which are several) and we record them on the “Keep Fix Try”. We used various work frameworks and found value in this diversity. For example, Pablo told us that nowadays principles of Modern Agile, Management 3.0 y The Heart of Agile have been incorporated. We have successfully worked with Kanban, Scrum and Lean Startup.
One of the cornerstones of agilism is dynamism, the adaptation to change. That is why being agile implies rethinking, transforming theories and adapting them to the measures of our needs. As Pablo affirmed: “The idea is for each team to work the best way, generating the biggest possible value, in the shortest time, having fun along the way and making everyone involved win.” Our learning is continuous: we keep exploring different paths in order to empower ourselves and improve day by day the way we do things.