The transformation story of the Istanbul Technical University Solar Car Team with the help of agile42 Turkey coaches
agile42 Turkey helped implement an agile way of working in the IT department of an international Leading logistics provider company
As an international Leading Logistics Provider Company, they wanted to transform ‘the agile way’ of all over the world. Taking a step in that direction, they decided to transform the agile way of working in the IT department of their Turkey base too. Therefore, they contacted us and we started to work together.
As agile42 we always start to work with the company doing an assessment to ensure the further application of tailor-made training & agile coaching. It is essential to support the leaders at getting the same view of the current status and to align on the goal.
Initial assessment results were;
We used the agile42 Team Coaching Framework. After completing the assessment, we customized the training according to the special needs of UPS Turkey. We also encouraged the business partners of the IT department to attend the training, Their support, and collaborative behavior was needed for reaching true agility. So, the training group consisted of IT members and people from other departments of the company who always work with IT departments. This training has created awareness in all units. Suddenly agile winds started blowing in the company and all units started thinking of how to implement agile methods in their own business. The framework to work best at enhancing agility was Scrum for the IT department. Since they receive requests from each department and have to prioritize them in order to work on everything together, it was a useful choice for their way of work.
We started working with the IT department. In the beginning, since everyone did their work individually, we focused on team building activities in order to address the team phenomenon. They had been working together for a long time but it was their first time to work as an agile development team. After that, we prepared a “team agreement” as well as some “done criteria” for the team. Together we prepared their first product backlog and we turned big chunks of work into small enough tasks. We prepared user stories and the development team pulled the stories accordingly. We started with a 2 weeks sprint loop starting at the team kickoff. One of the biggest problems of the department was that everything was labeled ‘urgent demand’ by the business side. So, we proposed the product owner to use the lean canvas model for their prioritization.
The IT team adopted Scrum very quickly. Scrum had generally been thought to be a project management methodology. Prior to our support and guidance, they were thinking of applying Scrum to only one important project and keep the rest of the team continuing as usual. We provided clarity on the fact though that there was a strong correlation to all the work that this team would be putting into their backlog and that the team members would have to change their behavior too. This way, the company would be given the opportunity to have full transparency of all the work and meet their need for changing items at a pace of sprints. For this reason, we prepared the first product backlog prioritizing all their work. After the sprint planning meeting, we started a 2-week sprint. At the end of the first sprint, they had finished almost everything they had committed to in the beginning. However, whenever looking at their scrum board, they could still see how many jobs in the originally ‘urgent state’ were remaining there and not currently planned in the sprint. They decided to open another column for the ‘urgent’ status, following up those demands by analyzing their root causes in order to later apply the best solution for similar problems.
Working separately within the same unit, the team members were unaware of each other ́s actual work and it was the first time for them to really be a team. They experienced the advantages of working as peers in future sprints. One of the former employees taught other team members a software language used in the company. They started working together. The Agile approach always focuses on fostering team support, co-operation and learning from each other. Our experience showed that this is right.
Frankly, it was a great moment of happiness for me seeing the team achieving this great improvement during their very first sprint.
First gains from working with agile methodology are:
They have also started seeing deficiencies of the team. Therefore, they decided to develop user stories precisely, agile forecasting, the use of story points and definitions of ready criteria. The PO decided to add more user stories to their product backlog, He decided on making Product Backlog Items transparent to all the team increasing awareness of the team this way.
At the end of the second sprint, the team had learned the scrum practices much better, understands their impediments, external dependencies, test issues, etc. They had to take steps to solve them. Therefore they initiated regular daily product owner meeting too.
It was great for us external coaches to see the team getting better at every Sprint based on a continuous improvement mindset. I’m excitedly looking forward to their further results.
While we were coaching the IT team, other departments also started making their own kanban boards. Since agile42 believes in Organic Agility, we made a considerable effort to spread an agile thinking perspective & methodology all over the company. One way to do so was by leading workshops for the top management and their departments separately.
As mentioned before, the business units are also very motivated to change their way of working towards agile. In the meantime, our coaches are meeting with two other departments which decided to go the kanban way. They are currently at their first step visualizing the workflow.
Missing are still other 5 practices of Kanban such as:
This is just the beginning of the agile journey of the company and in a very short time benefits were seen clearly. Consequently, we were very proud of having taken an active part in their agile journey.
«As a software developer who has developed various projects for many years and worked in various projects, I experienced serious problems such as; the size of the projects, the lack of time and other resources, the lack of clearly defined demands and unplanned and time-consuming test processes. shortly after I joint company, I attend agile 42 training courses and thankfully we got agile coaching as a team. I have had the opportunity to comprehend and apply the benefits of Agile and Scrum in a very short time thanks to the various activities; active learning programs, workshops during coaching program, make it’s clear and understandable easily applicable for work. As a team, we understood the benefit of cooperation, we learned new programming techniques from each other. I started to save time and work in a more regular way by using the Scrum structure in all my projects. Thanks to Scrum, I can work more efficiently and have time for myself.»
«I think the first thing we can provide is transparency with Agile working methods which will bring more efficient communication, managerial convenience, and fairness. While visualization reveals the exact point to be focused on, having a unique board/wall for a team improves the sense of being a ” team". Using Agile, we will save time by getting rid of unnecessary works and by making only effective meetings. I believe that it will lead to a multivocality with participation and eventually, this will lead to change. When we have all these positive feelings associated with being in the team, the quality of our work and production, both external and internal customers' satisfaction and our control over work will increase.»
Industrial Engineering Supervisor
«The agile scrum and kanban training we received was very helpful for us, as a team, we start applying the basic principles and values of agile approach such as openness, courage, respect, focus, and commitment. To finish committed PB’items at the end of the sprint, we took the decision to collaborate and help each other which decrease our stress level, increase happiness in the team.
In this way, We strive to create fast and quality projects by increasing the competencies of our team and working in joint projects. I hope we will, even better in our future sprints. We thanks to our agile42 coaches, kindly supporting us with different kind of coaching tools.»