Transforming a Traditional Engineering Team into an Agile Powerhouse


Embracing Agility in a Major International Entertainment Company

In the fast-paced world of technology, agility is not just a methodology; it's a necessity. This was the lesson learned when I joined a team responsible for the core technology at a major international entertainment company. The team, a traditional engineering group, had been working in a siloed, manager-driven approach for years. They had a strong bond but lacked visibility into the broader picture of their work. The challenge was to transition them from their conventional ways to a more agile and efficient system.

The Initial Roadblocks: A 50-Page Document and Reactive Workflows

The first hurdle was the team's reliance on a 50-page document for requirements management. Buried in these pages were years-old issues and bugs, making it challenging to prioritize and address current needs effectively. Furthermore, the team juggled development and support for their mission-critical system, leaving little room for delays in fixing major issues.

Transitioning to Agile: The Power of an Issue Tracking System

My initial task was to transfer all requirements from the cumbersome document into a user-friendly issue tracking system. This pivotal move paved the way for more transparent and organized workflows. Collaborating with the team manager, now acting as the product manager, we spent several sessions refining the backlog, setting the stage for our first agile sprint.

Balancing Regular and Urgent Work: A Hybrid Solution

The transition wasn't without its challenges. The most pressing was maintaining support for urgent system issues without derailing the team's sprint velocity. Our innovative solution? Allocating one team member per sprint to handle support tasks. This individual had a lighter workload in the sprint, allowing them to tackle any major issues that arose.

Scrum and Kanban: A Harmonious Blend

To manage this new workflow effectively, we employed a dual-board system. A scrum board tracked our regular, planned work, while a Kanban board handled the major issues. This hybrid approach wasn't flawless, but it marked a significant improvement in the team's understanding of their work capacity and velocity.

The Result: An Exemplary Agile Team

The team's transformation was remarkable. From a traditional engineering group, they evolved into an exemplary agile team, adeptly integrating Scrum and Kanban methodologies into their workflow. This change not only improved their efficiency and capacity planning but also contributed to a more proactive and empowered team environment.

Conclusion: Agility as a Catalyst for Team Evolution

The journey of this team is a testament to the transformative power of agile methodologies. By embracing change, being open to new systems, and continuously adapting, any team can rise to the challenges of today's dynamic tech landscape.

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