Going agile in the utility sector

In this blog post, Producer Ian Gregson discusses how larger scale utility companies are increasingly open to an agile framework for delivering projects.

You may be surprised to learn that we’re going agile with some of our utilities clients here at Equator. Previously the delivery method of choice for small and lean organisations, the supertanker sized companies are also turning to SCRUM. This article sets out some of our learnings from going on the journey from waterfall to agile.

Things we’ve learned

Client first

There has to be an appetite for change at the client side - agile is not a process that can be sold to a sceptic. In our case, the client had done their research and wanted us to work together to bring in the new processes. Without this appetite, it is doubtful we would have completed the difficult journey with the same success.

Products not projects

It may sound simply semantic, but the shift in thinking that happens when we refer to projects as products is important. It encourages the whole team - client included - to think of the work we’re doing as something of substance and ongoing value, not just a period of time where something is produced at the end.

No documentation is a myth

Especially for a client who is used to doing a lot of upfront documentation, it’s important that they understand that this will not simply disappear. Likewise, it’s important that the team take the time to properly document their activities and processes. For example, in defining our interpretation of the scrum process we documented roles and responsibilities for each member of the team. This detailed their individual skills and their skills as a developer, designer, scrum master, etc, as well as their duties in our product team. Making sure we documented everything gave the client a great deal of reassurance that the SCRUM team would be self-organised and remain governed and accountable without the need for a whole suite of PMO documents and sign off gates.

Conclusions

It has been a long and difficult journey, but by working really closely with the client we are finding an agile way of working that is a success for everyone involved.

By Ian Gregson, Producer