Consultancy Scrum: Making Agile Work for Clients and Vendors

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Information about Consultancy Scrum: Making Agile Work for Clients and Vendors

Published on March 11, 2014

Author: AcquiaInc


March 11, 2014 Consultancy Scrum How we’ve modified scrum to work in a
 client-facing environment

Todd Ross Nienkerk Digital Strategist and Partner
 Four Kitchens @toddross

Problem Scrum was designed for products with internal teams and stakeholders. Consultancies work on projects with external teams and stakeholders.

Scrum Classic™ • Products • Internally facing • Stakeholders control all resources • “It’s done when it’s done” —Stakeholders

Consultancy Scrum • Projects • Externally facing • Clients and vendors share control of resources • “It’s done when we say it’s done” —Clients

How we’ve modified scrum

Backlog Scrum Classic™ • PO writes stories, prioritizes the backlog, and plans releases and iterations • A ready, sized backlog is only necessary for release planning

Backlog Consultancy Scrum • Client POs are often intimidated by the backlog and unable to be effective. They need to be trained! • A ready, sized backlog is essential to defining the full scope of the project before work begins • Define MVP as early as possible

Daily scrum Scrum Classic™ • PO, SM, and team all attend

Daily scrum Consultancy Scrum • Include the client when possible • Accept that they will not always attend. Find a way to work around it

Demos Scrum Classic™ • The team demos their work at the end of each sprint • The PO accepts or rejects stories on behalf of the stakeholders

Demos Consultancy Scrum • The team pre-demos their work as stories are completed to get the client’s feedback • The sprint demo is a formal acceptance of work he client has already seen • Both the client and PO accept or reject stories

Pick two Scrum Classic™ • Encourage PO and stakeholders to pick the two most important: Budget, Timeline, or Features • Release backlog is fine-tuned to meet the most important of the two, allowing the third to be flexible

Pick two Consultancy Scrum • Budget is always one of the two, even if the client says it isn’t • Budget is a driver and should be reviewed with the client and team on a consistent basis

Velocity (Are we gonna make it?) Scrum Classic™ • A team should remain the same size for the duration of a project or release

Velocity (Are we gonna make it?) Consultancy Scrum • Staffing is fluid and variable • The velocity is determined based on number of resources available for a sprint, which varies sprint to sprint • Retain a “core” team to ensure consistency of knowledge and practices

Timeboxing Scrum Classic™ • Used to limit investigations of features

Timeboxing Consultancy Scrum • Essential to making sure the time spent on a feature is limited to the intended complexity • If something extends past the intended timeframe, a discussion with the client is needed to ensure we are spending time appropriately

Client management Scrum Classic™ • There are no clients in Scrum Classic™ —
 only stakeholders

Client management Consultancy Scrum • Meet the client’s emotional needs • Appoint an account manager-like point of contact who isn’t purely project- or business-focused

Contracts and SOWs Scrum Classic™ • Contracts and Scopes of Work are usually not necessary when working with an internal team

Contracts and SOWs Consultancy Scrum • Must allow for changes in the plan, timing, features • Appropriately vague descriptions of the project and features allow for change • Document agreed-to changes

Product Owner Scrum Classic™ • Person responsible for a product is guiding the roadmap, backlog, releases, and iterations

Product Project Owner Consultancy Scrum • Renamed “Project Owner” because we’re not dealing with a product • Assign role of PO to someone on the client side whenever possible • If the client can’t be PO, assign that role to someone at the consultancy

Who should be the PO? Client or consultant?

The PO must be empowered to decide what gets built

Client POs must be taught... • What stories are, how to write them, and how to prioritize them • What to look for in accepting stories, how to be critical reviewers, and why acceptance is important • How something can be “done” when it’s only a piece of the puzzle • How to include stakeholders at the right times

If a client isn’t a PO, they still need to... • Have an intimate understanding of the requirements, drivers, and goals of the project • Be involved in critical decisions • Attend the demos, accept the stories, and test them immediately

• Be available for frequent communication • Review the backlog weekly to ensure stories are properly prioritized • Keep an eye on stories at the bottom of the backlog that may not be included in the release

Consultant POs • The consultant PO should never serve a dual role as designer or developer • The Scrum Master can sometimes be the PO. Allowing dual PO and SM role depends entirely on the team, project, and client


Client Product Owner Account Manager Scrum Master Team Client Vendor

When scrum doesn’t work Adopting other methodologies for planning, design, support, and maintenance

 and design Build Support and maintenance ScrumWaterfall?
 Sprints? “Scrumfall”? Kanban

Continue the conversation at

Thank you!Thank you! All content in this presentation, except where noted otherwise, is Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 licensed and copyright Four Kitchens, LLC.

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