Sentify was approached by a New Zealand Government agency Application Development team who were facing numerous challenges related to its waterfall approach and lack of transparency. With the shift to product development, the team needed to adopt an Agile software development approach to deliver value to their stakeholders. This case study focuses on how Sentify provided solutions to address the challenges faced by the Application Development team.
The Customer Challenge
The Application Development team came to Sentify for help as they were struggling with requirement specifications, two-way communication, and lack of transparency. The team was new to the Scrum approach and lacked the right processes to balance the capacity and demand of their work. They were unable to size the sprints, make informed decisions about project deliverables and timeframes, and manage their workload efficiently. This led to under-delivery in their build schedule and lack of predictability of the team’s output. The team was facing poor forecasting and was based on wishful thinking, which resulted in promises being made that couldn’t be met due to limited information.
The Sentify Solution
Sentify implemented a process to minimise the number of unanswered questions from the business stakeholders and product owners to enable them to gain an understanding of what was required. Sentify also ran refinement sessions to enhance communication around the work and share what they were doing in the next sprint. They provided training sessions, hand-on coaching, and workshops to teach the process around what needs to be discussed. This resulted in a living record of the conversation in a shared understanding, which tied into sizing.
Sentify taught the team how to size work items, and they were doing quarterly planning instead of trying to do too much in a quarter. Sentify coached management to forecast correctly and helped them understand what would fit into a sprint and a quarter, resulting in predictable team delivery. They talked to team management to plan the quarters and created quick refinement work processes along with relative sizing processes.
Sentify introduced a standardised but simple, efficient prioritisation process that worked with the information they had to hand, which helped the team plan for emergencies and estimate them with certainty. Sentify successfully shifted the team to scrums in a two-week sprint.
By the end of the period, the team developed a predictable process to create plans and deliver on promises. Sentify introduced a prioritisation system, which allowed them to plan and estimate with certainty how long work would take for projects as well as emergency work. The team was able to quickly size up new work and make good evidence-based decisions in conditions of uncertainty. Quarterly planning shifted to be in line with the capacity of the team and team morale improved as they had more control over the process and work expectation.
Other benefits were released that they hadn’t anticipated. Not only was increased transparency achieved, but because they were releasing every sprint with predictability, they were a model team in this government department. If something important was needed, they were given the project. They were the “go-to team” as they were able to deliver all work items.
Right from their first sprint with Sentify, the team release into production, and they did that for 20 more sprints. This was a great achievement and far higher than industry average.
Sentify provided solutions to address the challenges faced by this NZ Government agency Application Development team. By implementing a process to enhance communication and transparency through training sessions, hand-on coaching, and workshops, Sentify successfully shifted the team to scrums in a two-week sprint. They taught the team how to size work items and coached management to forecast correctly.