Adopting Agile

Matt Zarem

Head of Product & Platforms, Digital Transformation at UST Global



We were a company of about 35 people and we had no process or framework for development other than delivering sprints every couple of weeks. We would have a meeting with leads from each team and go through our Asana board and the loudest voice would determine how we prioritized backlog. This works when you are just starting out (less than 10 people) but we recognized we needed to implement a process if we wanted to continue growing.

Actions taken

Myself and the engineering lead worked together to assess our needs. We identified that we needed a process with a consistent repeated pattern so we would not have to focus on the process but rather make it a habit. We studied up on scrum to see what level of agile made sense for our business. We convinced ourselves we wanted to go all the way with scrum. We agreed to really reap the business benefits of scrum, you had to go all the way. We made big decisions about co-locating scrum groups. That is, reorganizing teams so the employees in Europe are a single team, etc. We were disciplined about short and productive stand ups everyday and we backed the meeting up right to lunch time to avoid unnecessary disruption. We established our velocity, capacity, and output and monitored these metrics closely so we could gauge the effectiveness of the new processes.

Lessons learned

The result of these efforts was increased velocity from the same capacity. Additionally, through surveys, we found that teams were happier, more engaged, passionate about product, and pleased with the quality of the product. We learned that in order to reap the benefits of adopting the agile process, you can't go halfway in an agile methodology. We found that we reached the business benefits of improved efficiency by going through all the motions: co-location, adjusting team size, etc. We believe we would not have been as successful if we had cut corners during implementation.

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Matt Zarem

Head of Product & Platforms, Digital Transformation at UST Global

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsLeadership TrainingAgile, Scrum & KanbanTeam & Project Management

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