What Does Agile Really Mean?

Is your organisation one of the many stating they are adopting Agile delivery…what does this really mean?

August seems to be Agile month.  Consequently this time last year I wrote about Agile in Data Governance: http://wp.me/p3QDdI-1n

Recently I was trained and certified in Agile delivery methods which added to my existing knowledge and helped make the benefits of Agile delivery in Data Governance and Data Quality projects even more evident.

Agile is an umbrella term for a number of methods, such as: Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), SCRUM, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development, etc.

The overriding focus of Agile focus is:

  • What…Needs to be done!
  • How…Will it be done!
  • Why…Asking why communicates the vision, without which can lead to undisciplined Agile and long term failure! 

Tradition delivery vs Agile delivery

Traditional – Scope is fixed and must be delivered under any circumstances leading to cost, time and quality being affected.

Agile – Time, cost and quality are fixed.  It is the scope that flexes to fit within the other parameters.

A SCRUM 2 week sprint can be summarised in the following diagram.

Showing the meetings and expected duration and the 15min daily Scrum.

At the end of the sprint a “show & tell/ demo/showcase” meeting takes place to obtain feedback from the client on what has been delivered during the sprint.  Keeping the client in the loop of development on a regular basis can only be a good thing to demonstrate progress and enable greater satisfaction with the final result.


Below are the levels of an Agile project and how this would relate to a Data Governance deliverableEpicEpic – Programme or objective

 Theme – Project or Workstream

 Feature – That will be delivered at the end of that Sprint or development period

 Stories – that make up the Sprint, what smaller development activities will be completed during the Sprint.

 Tasks – lower level activities of between 1-10 hours that are required to deliver the development identified in the story.

Take this Data Governance example:

Epic Example

  1. To develop and implement a new Product Information manager (PIM) to manage the data for each product to enhance quality and accurate reporting.
  2. The projects or workstreams needed to be ran for each data domain to deliver the new PIM, for example: IT, Marketing, Product development and logistics.
  3. The new functionality needed to be developed and what systems does PIM need to integrate with need to work effectively and comply with polices.
  4. For new functionality what needs to be developed.
  5. The individual development tasks such as adding a new field.

Business case for Agile

Agile bring a number of benefits over tradition methods. These include:

  • 61% Cheaper
  • 83% Fewer defects
  • 39% Smaller teams
  • 24% Faster

Taken from the Standish Group Chaos Report (2002) & Cutter Consortium (2007)

 With economic benefits list those who would not be looking to see if a project can be delivered via an Agile delivery method.

For further information Scrum.org


One comment

  1. Good stuffs Liz. Thanks for sharing.

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