Why it is so critical to get the ever-changing business priorities up-to-date for Agile software development teams? Let’s look at a real customer situation to find out.
Here, we will look at a large fin-tech company that has a web-based application that runs on a scaled agile method. On the other side, they have applications which are developed in waterfall methodologies. The applications developed with scaled agile methodology are owned by different business units with each having their own priorities. The projects have dependencies which are critical to identify before any cross functional development effort starts. To facilitate communication and reduce risk there was a weekly meeting. In these meetings, each product owner who wanted to get a feature in an upcoming release presented the feature along with the dependencies identified. Architects, development leads, and product owners had to agree on features dependencies. Then, we accepted the feature for addition to the backlog for grooming.
Now the fun part starts. We also had to identify the lead program manager who would work with other dependent teams to get commitment for the feature and get it groomed. Then, we planned for upcoming sprint work. There is a greater challenge if some of the dependent teams are following a waterfall methodology and others used an agile methodology. We had to receive commitment for development to complete a project from the waterfall teams and then align key dates with the waterfall teams.
During the process, we often observed that collaboration is required within the product organization to ensure all interdependent product teams are aligned. I was involved in one situation where commitment was received from the cross-functional development teams, but the product teams were not aligned. The project manager had to quickly regroup both product and development teams to align. In the end, the best practice is to get commitment and alignment at the product level before the feature comes to the development organizations.