Dennie Danielsson, VP Program / Project Management at Sirius XM Radio Inc., said the shift from “traditional waterfall delivery to product delivery by agile teams” extended to the entire organization, about 350 people. The process began in the early part of 2016 and currently extends to about 20 agile teams that could run around 50 projects simultaneously.
They looked at tool sets that would aid in effecting the “transformation itself” and work “to run agile delivery in an efficient manner,” he said. They evaluated a number of tools in the market place before selecting Agile Craft.
One of its features that made it the standout choice, according to Danielsson, is its “unique aspect,” that is the “ability to cascade data from team level.” While all agile tools show progress to the teams, many don’t put together a gauge on progress for senior executives. In such situations, that information needs to be manually assembled.
They wanted to avoid having to put staff to work collecting the data for the executive view, so they appreciated that Agile Craft automatically compiles the data to “provide a real-time view and level of progression” that enables executives to “drill down” and see the performance on both the individual and team level.
They also have the option to “go up to aggregate level” to see what’s happening in real time with respect to “project delivery, progress, speed of delivery, impediments, blockers, whatever the case may be.” The “information is very transparent,” he says, “so anyone on team level can look at aggregated progress dashboards” with live updates rather than “static reports.”
The upside of an evolving product
Among the pros of the platform is that the “overall base functionality is easy to learn and set up, to get people loaded,” he reported. “What’s not so easy is access management.” He discovered that some of the “functionality in the tool was not ready for prime time, not really production grade.”
But there is an upside to working with what is essentially a beta version. They like the fact that Agile Craft is an “up and coming tool.” It’s “large enough for us to trust that they will stick around” and support their product but still small enough to evolve. That’s a plus because they get to “provide constructive feedback and collaboratively work with” the platform owners to guide the way it evolves.
For example, he notes that Agile Craft has enhanced its export capabilities. As the automotive industry is highly regulated, it entails “a lot of required documentation.” While that kind of thing can be difficult to export from most agile tools “on the market today,” Agile Craft worked with them to make it possible to export that documentation so that it “can be used in our communication with our clients.”
Version 10 of Agile Craft is due out and Danielsson considers it a major improvement that remedies many of the shortcomings he noted in the previous version. They’ve rolled it out to the power users, who find it “more user-friendly, more intuitive, modern and attractive.” He is glad that it eliminated the “back browser button that didn’t work.” That’s the kind of thing that “drives day to day users insane.” So while it is “not a big functionality thing per se,” it is “one of those quirks that prevents function and acceptance.
He has clear ideas about future improvements he wishes to see. One is to put in the “ability to cascade information up without manual intervention.” He also would like to see something stronger for the scrum team to use that provides clear “metrics on team performance.” He would want them to “focus on enhancing that layer” and its transport to the dashboard.
He also would like for the tool to not be too flexible. He explains that the way it is set up, it is possible not “be completely agile.” It allows for some “waterfallish” behavior, “which was something they did not want. The problem is that “creative and smart people” will find the “loopholes” allowed and then “game the system.” He believes that the tools should “be more rigid to enforce following best agile practices.”
The tool’s strongest selling point for him is its capacity for “integrations, information up and information down.” He concedes that they haven’t even implemented some of the “bonus features.” For example, the completion of tasks for scrum teams can integrate with their “standard time tracking tools” for more accurate “time tracking for financial rollup.” That enables them to identify where the hours are going, and “what features and projects cost the most,” for better planning and management.
He is optimistic about Agile Craft meeting their need in the future, as it has proven extremely responsive. They “work with us and keep the enhancements coming,” Danielsson says.