Friday, November 20, 2009

A Positive Correlation: Development Sprints

We use the Agile methodology of development known as SCRUM. From the CEO's perspective, this is all about quality work on schedule. I have to play by the rules, too, however.

Our developers work in 8 day sprints. With a planning day before every sprint and a review and approval process at the conclusion of every sprint, it means we release enhancements every 10 business days. [We do this with switches so our customers are still in charge of which new tools they use, and when.]

These sprints develop a pacing of their own, as the development staff learns how to work well with one another. From the CEO desk, I have learned to flow with this same pacing. Sure, I can stop a sprint and insert some "critical" task, but these requests have become more naturally balanced with our SCRUM process, as to stop a well planned sprint has its own costs that ripple across the calendar.

On the other hand, a new sprint is always just around the corner, and thus, almost anything can wait a few days for the beginning of a new sprint; or for less critical needs, for a few sprints.

And so, I have learned I can get more of those "critical CEO" requests done, if I insert them into the sprint schedule, rather than just as I'm back in the office from a recent trip. It's a great correlation: the more I'm patient, the more I get--and faster, too.

Douglas Zimmerman
CEO & President