How to build bespoke agile software

The Igale team has delivered software using an iterative development approach for over 30 years and we know it works for our clients. So strong is our alignment to the Agile delivery approach that our name Igale is an anagram of Agile!

Igale has taken clients from their first ever Agile project, to being experts in Agile delivery. This is not a process that happens overnight but rather over the course of many projects that have been delivered successfully. Our delivery method, true to the spirit of Agile has evolved and improved over time, and with over 1000 sprints conducted for clients we know how to get the most out of a software team.

What is Sprint 0?

During the early phases of a project we know there are going to be a series of unknowns and our discovery process, termed as Sprint 0 is where we seek to understand the scope and scale of the project. This process usually involves a blended team of both client and Igale team members, and typically lasts 4-6 weeks for a piece of enterprise software. The exact makeup of the team is decided on a per project basis but has typically involved between 4 and 6 members of the Igale team.

The purpose of Sprint 0 is to ensure that everything is in place to proceed with the commencement of development sprints. Sprint 0 is also where we work out how the project can most efficiently be delivered. We typically have teams operating out of our London office and on-premise integrated with our client’s team. Where remote working is more suitable, we will meet either at our London office or at a client’s office for user story conditioning and the key Agile sprint ceremonies of sprint planning, sprint retrospectives and sprint demos.

As part of Sprint 0 we conduct a whole host of activities in partnership with our clients. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Documenting and planning necessary project artefacts
  • Agreeing roles and responsibilities
  • Agreeing the definition of done
  • Understanding resource availability for all team members (client and Igale)
  • Training the client team in our ways of working
  • Receiving training in our client’s ways of working
  • Ascertaining an initial solution architecture
  • Creating a walking skeleton (a small piece of functionality that can go through the full development process to deployment)
  • Creating test plans and agreeing the testing procedures
  • We may also conduct development spikes to explore the technical feasibility of project critical technology options

All of these activities are intended to enable the project team to set the project up for success and if the project has a high level of risk to ensure that the team is able to fail fast and explore other feasible options.

At the end of Sprint 0 the team will have a very good understanding of the scale of a project and typically by the end of the third development sprint we can agree a fixed price for the remainder of the delivery.

Each functional sprint will contain a number of ceremonies. It’s these ceremonies that help shape an Agile project and ensure the team remain aligned and the pace of delivery remains high!

How Does An Agile Project Run After Sprint 0?

Daily Standup/Scrum (15 mins per day)

This should be attended by the scrum master and development team as a minimum. These meetings should be kept succinct and cover what people worked on yesterday, are working on today, and explaining any items blocking development progress. It’s then the scrum master’s responsibility to find ways to overcome any blockers for the team members.

Sprint Planning (4 hours a fortnight for a 2-week sprint)

This needs to happen either at the start (or ideally in advance) of the next sprint commencing. Sprint planning meetings should go through the current project/product backlog agreeing the candidate items that will be delivered during that sprint. For some projects the amount of user story conditioning may be increased to allow the sprint planning sessions to be as effective as possible.

The product owner should ensure that acceptance criteria, requirements, and necessary details for the development team to accurately estimate the level of effort are all included in each backlog item. By the end of the sprint planning meeting the development team should be absolutely clear on which user stories are going to be developed during the sprint, and the relative scale of each user story.

Sprint demonstration (2 hours a fortnight for a 2-week sprint)

This meeting is open to all project members and stakeholders and is intended for the delivery team to demonstrate the work completed in the sprint. Stakeholders can give further feedback on development items which may require amendment or re-work to meet the needs of the business – but this should be minimal if the team members have worked closely with the Product Owner and stakeholders throughout the sprint.

Why have Agile ceremonies?

The ceremonies described help to keep the project structured and it’s down to the skill and experience of the delivery team to use these meetings to best structure an Agile software development project.

To find out how Igale can help with your next Agile project, contact us today.

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