Agile Development in the old economy

Author(s): Géry Derbier
Venue: Proceedings of the Agile Development Conference (ADC 03)
Date: 08/03


Scrum Size: ~20 people
Sprints: 5-10 days
Scrum Meetings: every other day, 30 minutes
First Time: N/A
Overall Transition: shaky beginning

The software project being built is for the French postal operator La Poste Courrier International and is
primarily using Scrum as its software development management. There is a dedicated Scrum master
who is leading the process with developers somewhat unfamiliar with the Agile process.

The Scrum setup is fairly straightforward with a heavy reliance on communication, either in Scrum
meetings or iteration retrospectives, along with a heavy customer involvement. They use a general one month
timeboxed iteration with five to ten day milestone iterations working specifically with use cases
or pieces of use cases. They also tried to do frequent integration with builds at least once a week with
an attempt to do daily builds, although not often met. The ability to hold Scrum meetings with the 20
person team was achieved every other day in front of a white board filled with Post-It notes correlating
to the iteration plan. Each Post-It contained a use case that needed to be finished for the current
iteration and was arranged according to its owner and status of completion.

Some of their findings and lessons learned related to the Scrum process include:
• Adoption of an Agile process like Scrum is a question of changing attitudes, and that is a
difficult task
• Not a lot of people are comfortable with uncertainty and agility
• Scrum meetings functioned as the main building block, but people were often hesitant about
discussing what was going wrong in their job
• Short iterations reinforce the risk to be shortsighted
• Holding half day retrospective meetings after milestones or iterations was key to the
development process
• Timeboxing principle is key to any agile success
• The estimation process should be shared
• People skills, time management and technical skills are important for every person in an Agile