The Why of Agile: Part II
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In the first part of this series, The Why of Agile, we discussed why a customer should care about an agile approach to software development and the key benefit the approach provides: maximum control and return on investment. In this second part of the series, we'll provide detail on exactly why our distinct approach to agile is unique in the marketplace and how it sets us far apart from other development companies.
WWT Application Services has more than a fifteen-year history of successful agile software delivery and has set itself apart as a leading provider of agile expertise. As early adopters of the agile values and principles, our company grew together in agile maturity from its earliest stages.
As a result, we built agile into every aspect of our business, from how we approach customer relationships to how we train our employees, from how we manage a project to how we make technical decisions throughout that project.
Agile is not about certifications and ceremonies. It is a mindset founded in values and principles, and the only way to develop deep agile expertise is to put those values and principles into real-life practice for many years. Our credibility lies in our experience — mere certifications and frameworks will not help when challenges are complex and require deep experience to solve.
Often when companies claim to be agile, they are focused on their implementation of a project management framework (such as Scrum or SAFe). These frameworks prescribe specific meetings, roles and processes. But typically, the implementors of such frameworks are not developers, and the practices prescribed fall short of having any real impact on how the software gets written.
This top-down approach results in a push of agile that never reaches beneath the surface to impact technical decision-making. Customers are, therefore, missing out on the benefits of agile development and put at higher risk of project failure.
Within Application Services, we empower our technical staff to make the right decisions for our customers and ensure that we make those decisions for the right reasons. Our most unique differentiators include:
- World-Class Tools & Training: Every employee, regardless of role, spends their first week in an immersive, interactive agile workshop with fellow new hires where they are given the training and tools needed to be valuable members of their teams. Our workshop is led by some of the agile community's foremost contributors, recognized for their innovations in teaching and coaching agile. Our veteran staff repeats this workshop on a regular cadence to keep their skills current and their knowledge fresh. Also, our trainers employ the renowned Training from the Back of the Room teaching style — an adult neuroscience-based approach that results in the higher retention and internalization of agile principles and values.
- World-Class Kickoff & Lean-Inspired Value Focus: We start every project with an agile coach-led project kickoff workshop. The kickoff workshop brings together every member of the project team, including our customer and their subject matter experts, to begin the critical process of trust and team-building relied upon throughout the project. Where many companies' project kickoffs constitute a slide deck presentation, our kickoffs are collaborative, structured working sessions that result in whole team purpose, context and alignment. We prioritize identifying the full value stream and rally all team members to the goal of getting working software to production within the first days of the project, so our team can address the highest risks quickly and deliver value to our customers immediately.
- Delivery Principles: Throughout the life of every project, our teams use our ten Delivery Principles to guide their decision making. The principles provide an additional layer of specific and clear guidance on how to think through making technical decisions, from guiding the right amount of up-front system design to ensuring that future teams have what they need to provide application sustainment. In addition, we have our teams conduct a self-assessment every six weeks to determine how well they are applying our Delivery Principles. We provide immediate coaching and support to those teams whose self-assessments indicate room for improvement. As a result of this rigor, our teams can avoid making shortsighted decisions that result in debilitating technical debt, system fragility, untenable application support costs and other typical downfalls of surface-deep agile projects.
- Technical Excellence Through Feedback & Coaching: Our entire staff, regardless of tenure, is held to the highest standard of technical excellence by their peers, which prevents our customers from ever feeling the pain of a "bait and switch" when it comes to their team member makeup. Our team members are not only encouraged but expected and held accountable for both giving and receiving positive and critical feedback. All employees adhere to our core values of Trust, Humility, Embracing Change & Diversity of Thought, Passion, Attitude, Team Player, and Honesty/Integrity. Even our annual performance review process uses feedback requested from fellow employees at any level, and our entire staff knows how to effectively coach each other — whether that means coaching up, down or peer-to-peer. This emphasis on personal continuous improvement and accountability to one's fellow employees, in context with our core values, results in outstanding skill development and attention to excellence that is unparalleled outside of WWT Application Services.
Despite employing an agile framework, many software development shops still operate in a vendor/procurer model, where the relationship with their customer is contract-driven and neither party operates from a place of mutual trust.
We believe in earning trust through delivering value immediately and listening to feedback from our customers on what we just delivered so that we can continue to earn our customer's trust through the continuous delivery of valuable working software. By making our customer's delight our absolute highest priority, we establish long-term trusting relationships where we can help our customers achieve their unique vision.
In closing, WWT Application Services provides far more than just agile certifications and surface-level project management frameworks. We provide world-class agile software development expertise that is founded in a deep commitment to our values and principles, nearly two decades of experience and the highest priority of all: customer delight. Whether developing a quick mobile app or moving an entire suite of services to the cloud, WWT Application Services is the best choice for harnessing the fullest spectrum of the value of true agile development.