Back to resources

Introducing Agile and Story Points

Managing Expectations
Product Team
Internal Communication
Team Processes
Agile / Scrum

10 May, 2019

Erin Medlin
Erin Medlin

Head of Digital Product at Better Place Forests

Erin Medlin shares how she sought out the concerns of her engineers and then used that information to move to an Agile approach with story points.

Problem

I started working with an engineering team that had previous negative experiences with Agile and so were resistant to changing their process. However, their software was consistently not matching stakeholder expectations. It was buggy and late. I felt that the team could benefit from moving to an Agile approach.

Actions taken

I talked with the most resistant engineers to understand their previous experience and concerns. I also started to slowly introduce the Agile concepts that I felt would be most beneficial. For example, we started with daily 30 minute sit-downs (instead of 15 minute stand ups) to get the team in a regular cadence of communication and progress tracking.
I also introduced a backlog grooming meeting every other week where we went through the upcoming user stories and assigned story points. I had the product manager review the story and then all members of the development and QA team gave estimates via story points. To start, we did not use story points to track velocity, only for estimation of backlog grooming. If, between all members, we were off by more than two deviations, we discussed why someone felt that it was easier/harder. This allowed for requirements clarification between PMs, devs, and QA. Within a month we were able to release most of what had been developed, as it met stakeholder expectations and was bug free.

Lessons learned

  • Some people have a negative association with Agile due to previous bad experiences. Start slow with the team and introduce the most valuable concepts first to slowly get buy-in.
  • Story points are an effective way to ensure alignment between PM, Dev, and QA and can help bring up misunderstandings early on in the process. It is a valuable exercise to do even if you're not using it to track the velocity of the team. The more a dev team can feel that there is full accountability across PM, Dev, and QA, the more enthusiastic they will be to embrace new processes.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Working Moms and Problems They Face

20 January

Yang Wang, Engineering Manager at Bond, shares how diligently she transitioned from a large company to a series of startups, all balancing between the role of being a working mom.

Goal Setting
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Career Path
Agile / Scrum
Yang Wang

Yang Wang

Engineering Manager at Bond

Coaching Women Engineers: Professionally, and for Life

20 January

Yang Wang, Engineering Manager at Bond, shares how she coached several women engineers in her team to boost confidence and help them grow in their careers.

Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Team Processes
Career Path
Yang Wang

Yang Wang

Engineering Manager at Bond

From Big Tech to Startup: Adding Value From Day 1

19 January

Angel Jamie, Chief Product Officer at Yayzy, recalls his transition from a well-established tech company to a sustainability startup, and the major differences he experienced.

Dev Processes
Company Culture
Impact
Team Processes
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Changing Company
Career Path
Performance
Angel Jaime

Angel Jaime

CPO at yayzy

What to Do When Candidates Turn Down Your Job Offer

18 January

Rachit Lohani, Head of Engineering at Atlassian, decodes the positive changes he made to the company's recruitment process by getting into the crux of the issue.

Mission / Vision / Charter
Sharing The Vision
Strategy
Team Processes
Rachit Lohani

Rachit Lohani

Head of Engineering at Atlassian

Strategies to Deliver Effective Employee Feedback

18 January

Rachit Lohani, Head of Engineering at Atlassian, shares all his ideas and principles on providing feedback and avoiding discomfort while doing so.

Leadership
Internal Communication
Feedback
Motivation
Strategy
Team Processes
Rachit Lohani

Rachit Lohani

Head of Engineering at Atlassian

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.