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Over the Waterfall: Our Drupal development future is Agile

by jason.coghlan /

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I recently attained the Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) certification and found the process a good opportunity to reflect on what led me to Scrum. It was also a chance to take pause and consider our industry approach to project management.

Over many years I have seen teams wrangle with various methodologies based on traditional approaches to project management. Hybrid models based on the PMBOK framework or the Prince2 model were most prevalent. The common thread was always a very structured Waterfall based approach to projects.

As the Web industry and associated technologies have gained maturity there has been a trend towards a more agile approach. The methods used to define and deliver applicable functionality have changed as projects become more product focussed. At PreviousNext we recognised the need to adapt our approach some years ago and chose to adopt Scrum as our standard model for project delivery within our Drupal development and design teams.

We have since learned a great deal about making the transition to a more agile approach. Both structural and cultural change are necessary to become successful proponents of Scrum, but to achieve real success you need to foster an agile mindset within your team. Education is a key factor in this and all members of the PreviousNext team - developers, designers and client service managers - have been formally certified as Scrum Masters.

An equally important factor is how well your clients comprehend the nature of an agile engagement. Training Product Owners and client stakeholders on the fundamentals of Scrum needs to be complemented with ongoing coaching and mentoring throughout a project. It’s a very new and challenging concept for many, but taking an educative approach can lead to an enlightening and trust building experience that benefits everyone.

Ultimately it’s important to appreciate that adapting to a fundamentally different ethos takes time. It requires perseverance to overcome the challenges that organisations face when making a significant change to their existing model. The positive impact on client relationships and project outcomes make the adoption of an agile approach a worthwhile journey to embark on.

As more organisations come to appreciate the benefits, the uptake of Agile will continue to grow. The recent formation of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) and establishment of a Digital Service Standard focussed on an agile and iterative approach to the development of digital services is a significant milestone.

This new Australian Government model of digital service delivery is an encouraging development and validates the work we have invested in our own approach. We look forward to supporting the DTO’s initiatives through knowledge sharing and Agile leadership as organisations across government and the wider industry adopt it as their own standard.