Customization Projects and Scrum - dummies

Customization Projects and Scrum

By Mark C. Layton

Some software is off the shelf. Some is customized to meet individual customer needs. How do you handle that with scrum? Do you need individual teams for each client?

A company providing logistics software, which comes with its fair share of customization, works with each unique equipment configuration and specific third-party and legacy software integrations. Before scrum, the project teams that provided the customization service to the clients were so far behind the curve that the lead time to get a new client up was costing them business.

The solution came by inviting the customization project teams (not yet adopting scrum) as stakeholders to attend the core product scrum team’s sprint reviews. This allowed these stakeholders to anticipate the end product well in advance. They then provided feedback based on key customer usage that allowed the scrum team to engineer the core product in a way that required less customization for each client, as they saw ways to leverage certain features and collaborate with other client representatives.

According to Jeff Sutherland in a recently published article entitled “Agile Done Right, Agile Done Wrong” (January 16, 2014, Openview Lab), big technology companies are embracing scrum and agile frameworks. Microsoft has a 3,000-person scrum structure (multiple teams that integrate together) for all of its developing and tooling, and it releases product after every single sprint. Google has 15,000 developers working on one branch of code. The company goes live multiple times a day, and it runs 75 million automated tests every day.