Velocity Based Agile in the Wild: Two Case Studies

Velocity Based Agile in the Wild: Two Case Studies

If Velocity Based Agile is all about success, what does success look like? Here are two examples of how 729 Solutions used Velocity Based Agile to achieve customer happiness.

Case Study #1

Client: Larvol

Business Scenario: Give the client clear insight into short term timeline and budget without removing their ability to add scope, re-prioritize, or change focus on a moments notice.

With our project for Larvol, the challenge was helping the company move away from their traditional Waterfall methodology to Agile. Larvol wanted two things that seemed to be diametrically opposed: accuracy and flexibility. They wanted to know to the minute and to the penny calculations to get deep insights into how their budgets were being spent. Additionally, Larvol wanted the freedom to adjust the scope at any time so they could respond to internal and client requests. Every time they changed their mind, wanted to add an additional scope, or received feedback that indicated a course correction was needed, everything went out the window. This made traditional estimations and timelines wildly inaccurate. Many times, it took longer to estimate the work than it did to do the work itself.

We used complexity based explanations as part of story writing in Velocity Based Agile and let historical performance dictate future progress. Unlike Waterfall or SCRUM, the scope of any particular iteration isn’t locked, and using a tool like Pivotal Tracker you can instantly see the impact that changes to scope or story order have on your timeline. We also focused on their concept of “if it can be measured, if it can be managed” and helped them understand the importance of estimating, measuring, and tracking their project stories.

The key to making this work was to always keep time, cost, and scope in relationship with each other, and we were able to give them real-time clarity into the financial aspects of deliverables, resources, and timeline.

Result: A happy client who is now an Agile evangelist.


Case Study #2

Client: Namecheap

Business Scenario: To help the client understand the impact of discovered scope over a long term project.

Our project for Namecheap had a long timeline of 18 months. It can be a challenge to meet expectations when the timeline is that long, given the frequent problems of scope creep and inefficient project management. This particular application was especially challenging because the application in question had been built by a large number of developers over a long period of time with different styles and practices. Using Agile we scoped and road mapped the full 18-month project while having the flexibility for the addition of a discovered scope.  We finished it within two weeks of the originally proposed time without increasing the cost simply by giving the client insight into how each discovered issue impacted the project.

Throughout the project, we communicated regularly with the client, making sure that our conversations were clear and purposeful. We also emphasized the importance of trusting the process (and trusting the experience of the 729 Solutions team) to allow Velocity Based Agile the time and resources to work.

It’s not that we got all of the scope right for 18 months worth of work, it’s that we had early clarity and a transparent process where we were able to work with the client to eliminate peripheral scope and keep them on time, on budget, and on point for what the project actually needed. 729 Solutions also worked to be flexible to accept changes to scope and priority based on user feedback, where a parallel team using only a SCRUM process was not. As 729 is not a SCRUM shop by nature we were able to use Velocity Based Agile to populate each sprint so there was a solid understanding of the management level without disrupting their team’s normal process. This worked so well that it turned 3-hour sprint planning meetings every two weeks into a 30-minute process.

We used our tools to accurately translate what we were going to do into their (Namecheap’s) sprints. They used to have a lot of meetings that were three hours plus (every two weeks). We were able to adjust our scope and commit to the upcoming sprint during the call because it was just a matter of looking at what Pivotal Tracker told us we were capable of doing and filling it into Jira. They had 2-3 hours of meetings each day to go over the progress. We could answer questions in real-time and help the client determine how important any single change was and how it affected the schedule.

Result: Project completed within two weeks of 18 month projected timeline.  No change orders and no additional invoices.

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