The Upside to Downsizing

Author(s): Mike Cohn
Venue: The Software Testing and Quality Engineering Magazine
Date: Jan/Feb 2003


Scrum Size: 12 people
Sprints: N/A
Scrum Meetings: N/A
First Time: Yes
Overall Transition: smooth

After helping expand a company from forty to over one hundred developers, the dot-com implosion
made it necessary to downsize the company greatly. The only thing that would save it from the
impending doom was to efficiently re-organize their software product and team. After dismantling the
team to a mere 12, the team decided to use Scrum as the overall development method to make the old
cumbersome product into an easy to use flexible design. The team could no longer use the requirement
specs because they were too verbose and outdated. They needed to quickly simplify the requirements
so they would be in the form of a simple to understand user stories.

With 90% of the company gone, they found Scrum as a vital tool to mange the progress and transition
to a flexible development team. The 4 person QA team was responsible for turning the original test
cases into user stories for the developers to implement. After a quick implementation they would run
the testing to find the typical assortment of bugs, but also missing user stories that had been missed by
the programmer.

A few months after the transition, the company was acquired and the team was further reduced to four
until the final product was released shortly after. The acquiring company found the Scrum process and
simplified user stories so successful that they began to use them on their other projects