Saturday, August 01, 2009

Embrace the daily stand-up in Waterfall

The Daily Stand-up meeting is the heartbeat of Scrum, an Agile methodology. This is a process that can be easily embraced by teams following the waterfall process.

Agile software development teams have reaped significant benefits by adopting the Scrum methodology. However, there are significant challenges in moving from a Waterfall process to an Agile process. Most teams that make the change adopt a home grown Hybrid model eventually leading to a complete Agile methodology. It has been argued by many, that a swift change from one process to another is better than a gradual change. While there are merits to the argument, the reality is that most organizations and people take time to embrace change. It is better to take the time to win hearts and minds than to force adoption of a new methodology. Change that is willingly embraced is change that can be sustained.

Let’s say you want to adopt some Agile methodologies in your team that is currently following the waterfall process. What aspect of it should you adopt? My suggestion is to introduce the “Daily Stand-up” in your team. The “Daily Stand-up” is the heartbeat of the Scrum Agile methodology. See here for an explanation of this process:

Ask the team if they are willing to try this out for a couple of weeks. Also choose a time that is most convenient to them. Most teams will be willing to try this out. You can (and I recommend that you should) even offer the following incentives to the team, if it is in your power:

Cancel the weekly status reports
Most programmers dislike writing status reports. They’d rather write code. With the daily stand-up you probably don’t need weekly reports anymore. You are getting the status daily! You can use the information at the daily stand-up to update the project plan and produce a burndown chart to track progress.

See here for description of a burndown chart:

Your team members will love you for canceling the weekly status report!

Cancel the status meeting
Most waterfall teams have weekly status meetings that last for an hour or more. Most programmers dislike long meetings. Since you are getting a daily update, you probably don’t need this meeting anymore. Cancel it.

Your team members will love you for canceling the weekly status meeting!

What’s the gain from the daily Stand-up?
As a Project Manager you have a daily update on the progress. This is better than the weekly update from the original status meetings. You have information early that you can act upon. There is less formality in a stand-up – programmers tend to like that. Information exchanged in a stand-up often results in offline warm & fuzzy communication.

The daily stand-up contributes heavily to the success of an Agile methodology such as Scrum. If the 80/20 rule were to be applied to Scrum, the daily stand-up would show up on the “20” side. It can be easily incorporated into the Waterfall process with all the resulting benefits. Embracing it in Waterfall also sets the stage for adopting the other important aspects of the Scrum Agile methodology.

1 comment:

jaya said...

Interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you.
Scrum Process