Inspire Quality Services - Services - agile

By: Inspire Quality Services  05/12/2011
Keywords: training courses, Certified Scrummaster

Are you thinking of starting with Agile?
Is your current agile approach experiencing difficulty?

Inspire can help you transition to a more effective agile way of working through a combination of executive awareness building, agile assessments, training and coaching. We 'partner' with your organisation to deliver a successful transformation achieving measurable business goals. We understand agile methods at a deep level and have the hands-on experience to help your organisation create a customised solution for its unique environment.

To view our Agile Training courses including Certified ScrumMaster and Advanced ScrumMaster please follow the links in the right hand column.

Agile Services

Transitioning support:
We have significant experience transitioning organisations to agile including expertise implementing Scrum, XP and other agile methods and practices.

Agile Assessment Service

Gaining the Benefits of Agile - about Agile Assessments

Inspire Quality Services offers two comprehensive assessment services:
  • Pre-Adoption Assessment: This is suitable for organisations that have yet to adopt agile. Here we focus on surfacing barriers to adoption, including showstoppers and areas for particular attention. Seven distinct areas (see the diagram here) are addressed in detail through over 200 probing questions in our Agile Positioning Framework™ (APF). The results are the basis for formulating an agile adoption strategy to deliver the promise of agile, not just the rhetoric.
  • Agility Assessment: While many assessments focus on compliance to a defined process, our Agility Assessment Framework ™ (AAF) looks at how your present development method supports the many facets of agility: creativity, responsiveness, technical excellence and continuous learning. Agile philosophy rejects that there is one 'best way' to develop software, and this assessment approach allows comparison of various agile, waterfall and hybrid processes. By identifying practices that bring agility in your organisational context, we can identify areas ripe for improvement and align your strategy to best support your business drivers.

Many firms have already adopted or piloted agile methods with varying degrees of success. Regardless of where you are on the agile adoption curve, our assessment service can identify your current barriers and help you progress to the next level of business agility. As with any innovation, agile can face many cultural, organizational and technical challenges. Early identification of impediments can drastically improve the speed and effectiveness of adoption and help scale the solution in the context of your organization, project and team.

Our assessments use an in-depth, qualitative approach to identify not only WHAT is supporting or inhibiting business agility, but also HOW it is doing so. Through analysis of your current development process documentation, interviews with key team roles, observation of the method in action and focus group sessions we identify what practices are really adding value, where the waste lies, and what the underlying causes are. From this we help the teams formulate a strategy for change with actionable recommendations. Because the team is intimately involved in defining steps to improvement, they are in an ideal position to drive forward implementation of recommendations. Embedding ownership and ongoing continuous improvement of the agile method within the team is key to developing self-managing, empowered teams, a corner-stone of agile thinking.

Periodic assessments as you progress along the agile adoption curve can help identify emerging barriers and new areas of opportunity. With follow on coaching and support from an experienced agile practitioner, Inspire Quality Services can accelerate your evolution to a more responsive, productive and speedy software development organization.

Agile Coaching & Training

  • facilitate user story writing workshops,
  • work with product owners and others to create a reliable release plan,
  • facilitate sprint planning meeting, sprint reviews and retrospectives,
  • attend daily scrum meetings -provide feedback to ScrumMasters and teams,
  • provide dedicated role coaching and facilitating communities of practice
  • educate other stakeholders on Scrum/their role in its successful adoption

Agile Technical Practices

Technical practices: support for Continuous Integration, Test Driven Development (TDD) at the unit and acceptance levels, coding standards, code reviews, agile test strategies, test automation at the 'acceptance' test level (API and GUI test automation), architectural strategies with agile, specification by example, etc.


In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.
Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut

Scrum and XP are team based methods and, in their textbook forms, lend themselves to small collocated teams with few external dependencies, and project contexts which facilitate low cost, regular deployment and customer feedback. These conditions are not always present in real world software development. Therefore, to realise the benefits of agile methods in large scale enterprise environments, the practices must be tailored to integrate with up and downstream processes, the organisational structure and the technology constraints. For example, where the project depends on shared services such as architecture, database design and operations/deployment, the ability to build fully autonomous, self-organising teams may be compromised. Where there are legacy systems or shared enterprise data buses as part of the technology stack, the cost and timeliness of end to end integration may restrict continuous build and deployment. Agile methods do not provide obvious answers on how to address such difficulties.

Scrum and other agile methods explicitly call for customisation to your organisational and project context - unfortunately, they do not provide guidance on how this should be done. This results in implementations which select those practices that 'fit' with the 'way we do things around here'. For example, the monthly team meeting is called a retrospective, the project manager renamed a scrum-master, the requirements document becomes the backlog. This leads to 'shallow' agile implementations - it is called agile, but little has changed fundamentally.

Through wide experience supporting organisations move to a more agile way of working, we have learnt that you need to go beyond an understanding of the basic agile methods to successfully integrate them into complex enterprise environments. The methods, principles and values of agile benefit in practice by being augmented with ideas from lean product development, systems theory, theory of constraints, queuing theory, patterns of organisational design, knowledge management, innovation frameworks and other bodies of knowledge. Using these 'thinking tools', we can guide the application of agile methods at scale across organisations and even value networks. By understanding how agile practices implement many of the underlying process and organisational concepts, we can effectively extend and adapt individual practices to contexts which are far from the 'ideal' the textbook assumes to exist.

Many organisations first attempts at agile implementation are disappointing - they spend money on expensive offsite training for their teams, and even more money on pilots and early implementations. However, as the quote introducing this section highlight's, moving from Scrum training in a classroom to applying Scrum in the complex, pressurised environment of an enterprise development project is not an easy task. It requires deep knowledge of the agile method itself (more than can be picked up in two days training), an understanding of the underlying principles and concepts, and hands-on real-world experience across a variety of project contexts. Specific practices used in developing web applications may differ significantly from those used in developing firmware, transaction processing systems, software platform products or life-critical embedded software. To address specific challenges like these, training your team is essential, but insufficient. We advocate on-going coaching support throughout the first few months of your implementation, to guide tailoring of the agile method and the bedding down and stabilisation of practices. This will help in not only successful adoption of agile, but transformation to an agile organisation.

Keywords: Certified Scrummaster, training courses

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