Waterfall vs agile. Scrum masters, sprints and backlogs. Whether these are familiar concepts or uncharted territory, there were learning points for everyone at our evening masterclass on ‘Going Agile’ last week.
Attended by around 40 representatives from agencies and digitally-focussed businesses including DigitasLBi, Emperor Design, TMW, TH_NK and Channel Digital, this event was a chance to hear from brand and agency-side experts on the benefits and challenges of moving to a more iterative style of project management.
Jo Wickremasinghe shared insights from using agile at the BBC and Which? (where she is currently Head of Product) and from prior experience of more traditional ‘waterfall’ projects at Microsoft. Jim Bowes (CEO & Co-founder of Manifesto) spoke from the perspective of a digital agency specialising in agile delivery.
Jo made the point that businesses need release dates but underlined that this can be perfectly compatible with an agile approach. Sprints, she said, allow you to release features frequently, which is good for stakeholders. She also talked of the need to be ruthless in ‘wielding the scope machete’ and gave compelling examples of how an agile approach gives flexibility to cope with change that can derail waterfall projects (e.g. how the NHS IT project failed with the introduction of Foundation Hospitals).
Highlights from Jim’s talk included advice on hiring scrum masters (anyone can pay £1500 and spend two days getting certified but you won’t learn how to write a good user story or what size of work to take into a sprint) through to using the Fibonacci sequence to estimate your backlog. He rounded off his engaging talk with three takeout tips: put effort into discovery; keep a shared understanding; and use the process but don’t be a pedant.
After a useful and lively Q&A at the end of the presentations, the conversation continued around the corner at Salvador & Amanda where BIMA ThirstDay networking drinks were getting underway.