- Agile Delivery Manager
"If you’ve tried to solve the problem using the regular Agile approaches and it’s not been possible, don’t be afraid to branch out and use all of the tools available to you to get the job done."
I had a problem recently where my team and I were working on a project for a client as part of a multi-vendor team. We were creating a front end and another vendor was responsible for the back end of this system. Naturally we were dependent upon this other team for creating APIs and fields etc. for us to use. As with any dependencies, sometimes they didn’t turn up on time, which meant my team were at risk of not being able to deliver against a statement of work in a contract.
We decided to visualise the problem. We started by drawing some boxes that represented our work, next we added some boxes to left that represented what we thought our dependencies were. We then socialised this with our delivery partners and they added further boxes and did stuff like changed the size of some boxes to represent the rough size of work. We ended up with a diagram that visualised our work and what order things needed to be done in, Great!
Unfortunately this diagram also looked a lot like a Gantt chart and inevitably (despite my best efforts), dates were applied to it and it took on a life of its own. As you would expect, it was regularly out of date and it took several hours a week to maintain, but compared the risks posed by having no confidence in our dependencies turning up on time, this overhead was the lesser of two evils. Furthermore by involving the client in the diagram maintenance sessions they understood that any delays in our work being delivered were not our fault.
There was a lot about this project that was less than ideal, but as a consultant sometimes those are the cards you are dealt and you need to find a way to make it work. If you’ve tried to solve the problem using the regular Agile approaches and it’s not been possible, don’t be afraid to branch out and use all of the tools available to you to get the job done.