Mastering Agile Product Development

By Celerity on Jan. 31, 2017 View Comments


Recently, Celerity’s Agile experts put together an interactive webinar on Mastering Agile Product Development – an area where many attempt to conquer but few succeed. Their first question to the audience was:

True or False: New product ideas primarily come from management in my organization.


The audience was split 50/50 on their answers. The next question asked if securing funding for a product was difficult. Once again, the audience was split down the middle. The same respondents, however, who agreed that new ideas come from management also said that funding a product was not difficult.

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The Price of Poor Product Ownership: 3 Ways to Doom Your Agile Project

By Todd Miller, ScrumMaster, Product Owner on Jan. 24, 2017 View Comments

Being an Agile Product Owner is a difficult endeavor. In fact, I would venture to say it may very well be the hardest and most critical product owner role on an Agile project. You have to keep the team happy and engaged, stakeholders are constantly looking for “status” updates, and you need to appease the customer by understanding their needs and delivering high value as quickly as possible.

I’ve witnessed many unpleasant Agile projects, even to the point of a project’s complete failure, because of poor Product Ownership, despit using a proper agile framework. There are a variety of reasons for that, but I’m seeing a trend of Product Owners spending their time in the wrong places.

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Software Development and Agile Methodologies: A Chronicle of 2016

By Celerity on Dec. 27, 2016 View Comments

As we say goodbye to 2016, let’s reflect on some of the Celerity stories that were popular this year! From trends like Agile development to personalization and operational readiness, Celerity’s consulting team has contributed a wealth of knowledge to Breakthroughs in Acceleration. Here are a few of our favorite articles:

Operational Readiness: 3 Keys to a Successful Takeoff for Any Large-Scale System
If you’re preparing for the launch of a large-scale initiative in the coming year, don’t let untested systems and unprepared users create a deployment debacle. Follow these three operational readiness steps to help build confidence in your new system and get your project off the ground smoothly. Read the full blog post.

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How to Streamline Quality Assurance for Agile Scrum Development

By John Mark Swartz, Consultant on Dec. 20, 2016 View Comments

I have learned over the years that tried and true quality assurance (QA) practices work great in a waterfall approach. QA is regimented by nature and lends itself perfectly to the methodical nature of waterfall development, only with a lot of extra fluff. Can we cut out some of that fluff to match the streamlined nature of Agile Scrum development? I believe we can trim down some of the QA practices included in waterfall, keeping the highest quality of standards and even improving on them by being more efficient with our time.

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How Agile Can Be Embraced by Your Entire Organization

By Celerity on Dec. 13, 2016 View Comments

This post is a preview of our eBook: Leading an Enterprise Agile Transformation. Download the full eBook here.

A recent survey by Scrum Alliance found that more than 70% of Agile practitioners report tension between their teams and the rest of the organization. The reason? They are following different road maps and moving at different speeds. Whether your organization is in the early stages of adopting Agile methodologies or you have multiple teams running sprints, non-Agile influences will eventually cause your success to plateau. The breakthrough opportunity is a true, Agile transformation.

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A Logical Approach to Requirements Gathering

By Chris Alexion, Consultant, Service Delivery on Nov. 2, 2016 View Comments

Requirements gathering is a critical, foundational step in all software development. It will either set the project on a course to great success if done well or doom it to failure if done poorly. As Janet Leon pointed out in her blog, The True Cost of a Software Bug, the earlier you catch a bug in the software development life cycle, the less costly the bug will be. So it should be our goal to get the requirements 100% correct in order to eliminate bugs. With the stakes high and the challenges many, here are a few items to consider during requirements gathering that will ensure your project charts a successful course.

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Agile Marketing: Learn the Lingo

By Celerity on Oct. 11, 2016 View Comments

A too-long to-do list is a daily reality for most marketers. The larger issue, however, comes from that long list of tasks lacking prioritization and coordination with others on your team, resulting in time spent on the wrong tasks and missed project deadlines. Agile Marketing offers a compelling solution to this problem and helps marketing teams, both big and small, accomplish projects faster through improved communication, transparency, and innovation.

Adopting its core tenants from Agile software development, Agile Marketing is a work management methodology that can help a team work faster, leaner, and more strategically through short bursts of work and frequent feedback. Agile helps to prioritize and execute projects more quickly and helps to bridge gaps between IT, Marketing, and the Business.

Before you get started, though, you must learn how to SPEAK Agile. As you start researching and planning your team’s adoption to Agile Marketing, here’s a handy reference of the terms you’ll come across and what they mean:

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4 Ways to Keep Up with Today's Agile Trends

By Jesica Wetherhold, CSP, PMP on Oct. 5, 2016 View Comments

For Agile to deliver on its promise of improved speed, quality, and customer-centric solutions, your Agile organization needs to continuously mature and evolve. So how can you keep up with the fast pace?

Answer these four questions to ensure you’re keeping pace with Agile best practices:

1. Are you using Scrum?

Scrum is the most popular Agile approach for delivering innovative, quality products and services. According to the Annual State of Agile Report, over 80 percent of the organizations utlizing an Agile framework use Scrum or a hybrid of Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming. Scrum’s popularity is not surprising, due to its many benefits, including:

  • Promotion of collaboration, continuous improvement, and transparency
  • Minimizing the pressures of predetermined timelines and unnecessary work—87 percent of respondents to the Scrum Alliance's 2015 State of Scrum survey say their team's quality of work life has improved by using Scrum
  • Enhanced productivity and innovation due to self-organizing and self-managing teams
  • Rapid inspection, adaption, and pivoting of projects according to changing customer needs
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Agile Development: 4 Ways to Tell if You’re Living in the Past or Staying True to Agile Principles

By Jesica Wetherhold, CSP, PMP on Jun. 14, 2016 View Comments

Companies have a history of creating lengthy documentation that bogs down software development. In this “pre-Agile” era, requirements were established up front, testing didn’t occur until Agile methodologies developed, and the customer wasn’t involved until they were given the end product. Modifications and changes could cause an entire project to go way over budget or even fail. Everyone knew there had to be a better way.

In 2001, seventeen software gurus came together in Snowbird, Utah to eat, ski, and discuss different approaches to building software. These ‘organizational anarchists’ brought their independent initiatives with them, such as Feature Driven Development, Extreme Programming, Crystal, SCRUM, Adaptive Software Development, and pragmatic programming. Their common focus was on lightweight ways to develop software and by the end of the meeting they established the Agile Manifesto.

A principle of the Agile Manifesto states “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” We know it works. Its history tells a story and helps us understand the true value and impact of an Agile framework in today’s creative economy.

Ask yourself these 4 questions to determine if you’re living in Agile’s past or holding fast to its core guiding principles:

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The ONLY 3 Things That Matter in Agile

By Julius Weems, VP, Strategic Accounts on Jun. 7, 2016 View Comments

For the last eight years, Agile has been the buzz of every company in the IT industry. We can’t go a day without hearing Agile this, Agile development that. We have consulting companies created around Agile practices and businesses trying to ditch their traditional waterfall processes.

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7 Ways to Effectively Manage a Product Owner Backlog

By Todd Miller, ScrumMaster, Product Owner on May. 24, 2016 View Comments

Product backlog management is an art form that requires relentless attention. As a Product Owner, it’s your responsibility to run a well-oiled machine and keep the product backlog healthy. This includes accommodating stakeholders, development teams, and most importantly, users. But how do you manage a product backlog in a way that is effective and results-driven?

Here are 7 tips from an Agile Product Owner who’s been around the block:

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Agile Scrum Framework: 4 Ways to Create High-Quality Software, Part 2

By Todd Miller, ScrumMaster, Product Owner on May. 10, 2016 View Comments

Scrum’s framework lends itself to high-quality solutions, but many loyalists need clarification on how to address that goal in the daily use of Agile methodologies.

In Part 1 of this blog, I explained two key ways to prioritize quality through Agile Scrum:

1. Use a cross-functional Scrum team to reduce external dependencies.
2. A Development should have a Definition of Done (DoD) so they know when an increment is in fact “done”.

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Agile Scrum Framework: 4 Ways to Create High-Quality Software, Part 1

By Todd Miller, ScrumMaster, Product Owner on Apr. 19, 2016 View Comments

Heard of the Scrum framework? It's exceedingly popular for its unmatched success in solving complex software development problems. Scrum, however, only implies the need for high-quality solutions and doesn’t actually suggest how quality should be addressed. Here’s my take on it:

Scrum implementation focused on continual quality and technical excellence is more likely to succeed than one that isn’t, and quality is everybody’s responsibility.

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Agile DevOps: A Crash-Course on Docker for Microsoft Containers

By Scott Rudy, Applications Architect on Mar. 22, 2016 View Comments

In technology, getting an idea from inception to value involves a lot of moving pieces, which introduces risk. The concept behind DevOps enables organizations to break down the barriers to reduce that risk and get to value faster. To execute DevOps, developers can use containers for improved automation and on-demand deployment. So, in effect, containers help teams make DevOps possible.

Consider this simple scenario of a single web application with persistence:

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Agile Development: 3 Steps to Get Funding from Stakeholders

By Kat Lopez, Senior Consultant on Mar. 1, 2016 View Comments

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  - Albert Einstein

I love this quote because it’s a universal adage that applies to any situation where we find ourselves reviewing lessons learned and reflecting, sometimes in agony, at what could’ve gone better.

In my work, I’ve consistently witnessed clients buy into the theory of the Agile methodology but flounder to commit to Agile fundamentals during execution, usually because unfamiliarity with Agile is overwhelming when faced with the allure, comfort, and predictability of waterfall.

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The Agile Rhythm: How to Find Yours & Why

By Paul Girdzis, Business Process Consultant on Feb. 9, 2016 View Comments

Remember ‘song time’ in Kindergarten, when your friends would all join together in a sing-along? My favorite was, “Old MacDonald,” because the simple melody and repetition could convince even the shyest person to sing.

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-OH
And on that farm there were some ducks, E-I-E-I-OH

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Implementing BPM Software Leveraging Agile: 3 Keys to Success

By Jason Foster, BPM Delivery Director on Jan. 26, 2016 View Comments

For most application workflow projects, the Agile development methodologies has proven a superior approach over the traditional waterfall method.

But even with a proven delivery method like Agile, insufficient understanding of business processes can derail your project. This is especially true when the project involves a complex workflow component.

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Agile Software Testing: How Your SDLC Can Benefit From a New Strategy

By Nate Good, ScrumMaster on Dec. 8, 2015 View Comments

The shortened sprint cycle is a significant change that occurs as the direct result of migrating the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) to an Agile development methodology. It brings a number of immediate benefits, but also introduces several challenges. One of those challenges is maintaining a consistent level of quality as part of every release without incurring exponential costs in testing.

With proper understanding of testing procedures, you can turn an arduous testing process into one that seamlessly adds to the team’s momentum. But first, let's talk quality.

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5 Surefire Ways to Become an Awesome Product Owner

By Scott Hallam, CSP, PMP on Dec. 1, 2015 View Comments

As a Product Owner, you’re the one who defines and prioritizes a team’s work, which is difficult but rewarding. After all, you define the tools for building the product that will ultimately help your company achieve its business goals.

Frankly, it can be overwhelming to try to balance often-competing business priorities and constraints of time, budget, and scope.

The good news is that by properly applying Agile principles to product development, regardless of what that product may be, you can achieve your company’s goals quickly and cost-effectively.

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Agile Transformation: 5 Changes Project Managers Can Expect

By Jesica Wetherhold, CSP, PMP on Nov. 17, 2015 View Comments

The manufacturing and software development fields have been using Lean and Agile principles for years, and service sectors like financial services and healthcare are rapidly following suit for project implementation and delivery. Companies want to find a competitive edge by delivering the most valuable product in the least amount of time, and Agile development methodology makes that a reality.

In order to succeed in Agile, it’s necessary to shift focus and thought processes around how to manage corporate initiatives. This is true across the organization, from C-suite executives and management teams to marketing, finance, and project management professionals. In fact, project managers will often need to take on new roles altogether, like “product owner” or “scrum master.”

As team members that are heavily affected by Agile processes, there are five key adjustments a project manager must prepare for in order to succeed in an Agile development transformation:

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