They Talk, We Listen: Agile-Scrum For Better Software

Liz Cook
Written by: Liz Cook
Agile-scrum infographic

A Development Team Genesis Story

Agile-scrum methodologies help developers answer stakeholder needs. Agile-scrum refers to a development team’s ability to adapt to ongoing feedback from their stakeholders when developing a software product.

Read time: 4 minutes

20 years ago, Issuetrak’s Development department (affectionately, Dev) was fairly small. Now the company boasts a larger staff, including a world-class Dev team. But employee headcount doesn’t necessarily affect the massive changes seen at Issuetrak.

Today, Issuetrak’s Dev department is at its finest for quality control, productivity, and innovation. We’ve come a long way to make this the case.

Stakeholder Feedback Provides Better Development

Internally, Dev adjusted its course a few times. The department has faced great strides in evolution—especially when it comes to product updates alongside stakeholders. 

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

Back in the day, the process of developing software fell in step with the waterfall method. Stages were rigidly defined and scheduled. The outcome of one development phase determined the input for the next phase in sequence. This linear sequence felt productive at the time.

…Then our coders began noticing how certain downsides outweighed benefits. Isolated developers were working on separate pieces of the software puzzle. Stakeholders made little input by the product's end. 

Zero collaboration made for total miscommunication. 

Director of Development Lisa Cockrell was there to bear witness. Her cloistered team would spend two months buried in their greatest efforts. At the end of what they thought was a victory, they presented stakeholders with an off-the-rails solution answering a few needs—but not all of them. 

Some time would pass before Issuetrak found its footing to take evolutionary steps for all development-kind.

Run With Scrum: Agile Teams Deliver Results

Dev has long since transitioned to an agile-scrum methodology, which guarantees quality support for Issuetrak’s partners.

Agile teams are flexible, adapting development schemes to stakeholder wants. Scrum refers to the mini-sprints, or phases, of creating a product to specification.

It was a simple but crucial change:

With agile-scrum, stakeholders now have insight into every phase of developing their requested product. Developers will welcome changes at any phase of the product’s development. Early or late, Dev can quickly and seamlessly adjust as needs arise.

Stakeholder Benefits Under Agile Development

Now stakeholders can intervene and make their preferences known in a timely fashion. As a stakeholder, you can:

  • Play your part in creating highly intuitive web interfaces
  • Perfect a misplaced CTA button
  • Brand-match your text’s appearance on the screen
  • …and much more.

Thanks to agile-scrum methods, software fulfills customer demands and the Dev team’s vision. Dev creates a relevant product. Stakeholders have what they need to better respond to their own customers.

Product Developers For Company Development: Putting the IT in Issuetrak

For a software company that was once lucky to release upgrades once per quarter, Issuetrak now upholds a release roughly every 30 days. This is a timeline Dev has consistently achieved over the last 4 years. 

Here’s the best part: 

What’s inside translates outside. Redesigning Issuetrak’s approach made the development process more efficient and collaborative. 

“No cowboy coders going rogue here now,” our Development Director shares. “We listen to what the Product Owner and stakeholders want. We offer a product suited to their organization.”

Learn more: What is a Product Owner?

Hear It From Our Developers: Lessons Learned

If we’ve learned anything over the years, Issuetrak’s developers certainly have evolved a philosophy on how to tackle their to-do lists.

Quality Over Speed

In the past, our most valued asset was our speed in delivering our product—but that was our mistake. Rushing through something as complex as coding software, you end up paying for such mistakes with your time and effort trying to correct them.

Today’s agile team (each of whom is a Scrum Master) can bounce back quickly if they start down a wrong turn. The mini-sprints and frequent check-ins ensure a software product’s specs are designed to satisfaction.

No “I” In T-E-A-M

Many places have an “us versus them” attitude between Quality Assurance (QA) testers and Developers. QAs are often labeled as “finding fault” with developers’ code. But Issuetrak’s developers are happy here, with a mutual appreciation for fostering an all-for-one team atmosphere. Issuetrak’s development team recognizes that QAs represent the customer’s voice.

With greater in-house collaboration and communication, the Dev team could get to work. The mini-sprints enabled developers to honor a customer’s vision while fulfilling their product goals.

The Right Ingredients

One of our Quality Assurance reps summed it up best with a fun analogy based on a MasterChef episode:

 If you mistake salt for sugar, it doesn’t mean you can’t bake a great cake. It simply means you need to re-bake it with the right ingredients.

The same goes for developing code. We make sure no mistaken digit in the code (nor extra tablespoon of salt) throws off the product entirely.

Advice If You’re New To Scrum

A more detailed data integration plan ensures expectations and deliverables align. 

  • Create a data integration plan with objectives, milestones, timelines, evaluation points, and responsibilities. This includes identifying aggregated data and integration goals.
  • Decide which systems you want to optimize. 
  • Formulate and follow through on a data integration strategy. 
  • Measure your progress. This is the fun part where you see your success! 
  • Consistently backtrack and check in with your team on the SMART goals you’ve set.

Agile-scrum has everything to do with quality control. It’s not about mistakes, but how we correct missteps along the way. The Dev team uses its agility as a self-check, and when they readjust for a better product, they’ve been known to say, “thank goodness we didn’t ship the salty cake!”

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