How to be an Agile Customer?
In this dynamic and ever-changing scenario today, a lot of customers want to make their vendors follow Agile Project Methods. Be it in an IT or Non-IT environment, continuous integration is the most practical way to achieve continuous and visible results.
Hence, a lot of companies who look for vendors/partners for accomplishing some goals are keenly interested in finding partners/vendors who can work in Agile methods of delivery.
Working on continuous integration is as much as the task of a vendor as it is applicable for a client as well. Now, a lot of clients are unaware of these Agile methods in the first place and find it difficult to follow it sometimes. And also will understand the Use of Agile to Deliver Customer Success.
Characteristics of Agile Customer:
Being a part of the rigorously delivery-oriented software world, I can summarize my experience with a lot of clients who wish to run their projects in Agile, but often have very limited to minimal knowledge of a working Agile environment. With this constraint, the vendors/partners are required to work in absolute sync to run the Agile Machinery in a well-oiled and productive manner.
As a Scrum Master who has had the opportunity to run multiple projects in a client/vendor/partner model of products with teams scattered to multiple locations across the globe, I can say that educating and collaborating with the clients and their partners is not as easy and seamless as it sounds in a theoretical manner.
We must understand the core values of Agile thoroughly to handle such situations and scenarios and also to improve customer experience with Agile. Many teammates, managers, and leadership have very limited knowledge of Agile Practices and what they are about, and often try to put restrictions on the processes which are not part of Agile Values and Principles.
Core Values of Agile that one must understand
The Agile Manifesto has Four Values, each Agile methodology applies the values in different ways. These Four Values are people-centric and results driven. That is why there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left.
As an example, I will quote a situation that I faced during a project execution. Our client in this scenario was completely unaware of the Agile practices and Values. The client was mostly dependent on us as a vendor to teach them and follow the Agile Values and Methodology. Our leadership roped in an Agile Enablement team internally, so that the client could be educated and workshops were held with our team and client-side personnel to make sure that everybody learned to be Agile together.
At this point, we had knowledge that a 3rd partner will create some precedents to start our project. Our team would never have to collaborate with the 3rd partner once the preceding requisites are handed over to us and we would work without any dependencies. Our team started preparing to begin the development in full force and was fully prepared to take over the Agile challenges.
What challenges does Agile team come across?
Days before development, our leaders got notified that the whole project schedule got bumped because the partner company had not prepared the prerequisites for us to start the development. After multiple discussions and workshops, we came down to the below solution:
Now, in a situation like this, the whole Agile school of thought comes under the scanner. In this scenario, not only us, but all the three entities must be in sync to follow Agile methods and to get any real work done.
Being a client/partner in an Agile ecosystem means contributing the same amount of Agility, thought and work in the process. If the client wants the vendor to be Agile, the client also should be Agile educated and willing to follow the right process to get their work done in time and with the expected quality. Usually, in these situations, the client is the required to be the oil to the whole Agile machinery between vendors and partners.
A client who wants a continuous delivery should keep the following points in mind:
A partner in an Agile enforcement should also be willing to enhance the Agile practices by delivering their owned work on time to avoid the cost to the client and time to the vendor.
Collaboration: The key to success!
In a corporate structure where collaboration is the key to success, it is very important to understand and follow common processes as important it is to understand their requirements to succeed and create meaningful and successful product/software.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win a championship”
– Michael Jordan
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