Delivering Software: Trimming the Fat
I’ve always believed that software delivery methodology should continually evolve to reduce waste and adapt itself to its environment. This has been on my committed topic list for a few weeks and before I go on I’d like to send out a special thanks to Joel Spolsky for stealing my thunder. If you haven’t already, his insight on this topic is well worth the read.
Many software organizations function with two clear responsibilities bringing a product to market: engineering and product management. Optify is no different and until very recently worked effectively as two departments with role clarity and ownership. We used scrum and leveraged it well for the past 18 months. We shipped code every three weeks like clockwork. We were reliable, consistent, and relatively low risk. In short, we were marriage material. Just as in the average marriage, we metaphorically put on 20 or 30 pounds of post-wedding fat. As an agile SaaS company in a hot market it’s time to trim up, fit back into those skinny jeans, and get our game faces on.
We’ve made changes to our software delivery processes that are designed to optimize for incremental value reaching customers earlier and more often. We’ve also cut away much of the overhead in planning and execution. We’ve gotten leaner, meaner, and more attractive to customers, prospects, and future Optifinians.
Key differences include:
- We combined the product and engineering teams into one cohesive unit with joint ownership in delivering features to production
- Moved away from the static three week sprint cycle and implemented Kanban
- Allocated time to get our branch/build/deploy processes streamlined to allow more frequent deployments with less pain
- Implemented a lighter-weight workflow management tool that gives product planning and release insight to the entire company
Having already established myself as a Spolsky fan, it should come as no surprise that we’re using Trello for our backlog management. This allows us to keep work in progress front and center, emphasizing one of our core team values: transparency.
So far the feedback has been positive and the team has adapted quickly to the new methodology. In the coming months I’ll provide updates and learnings from this change as we continue to evolve.