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Creating a Case Study

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Team WIKISPEED is lucky enough to have been featured in several case studies, one of which has been picked up by the Harvard Business Review: http://hbr.org/product/team-wikispeed-developing-hardware-the-software-way/an/ES1391-PDF-ENG

I work with many companies measuring the ROI of their agile practices, and mining their data for gems to repeat and opportunities to improve. I am sometimes asked, “what data should we record in order to create an internal or external case study of their Agile Journey.” I recently responded with this list:

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1) TIMELINE. Velocity per date. Quality per date (bugs found in field, or whatever the metric may be relevant). Agile, Lean, and Scrum practices in use per date. So, you may have “Jan 01 2011 team launch. 2 day Scrum Training. Jan 08 2011 initial velocity 8 story points. Reference stories identified. … … Feb 08 2012 team achieves 4.6x initial velocity with same or lower bug count. Feb 15 2012 team starts tracking Happiness Metric. Feb 22 2012 team votes to split into two teams, 3 ppl and 4 ppl.

2) Quotations. “If only we could get these small features out the door more quickly, we could have saved that project.” “I’ve never seen the team so energetic and focused.”

3) The story. Project narratives, why it was thought to be important. How folks reacted. When it seemed effortless and so fast, what was the story around that? When the project felt stuck and like a slog, what was the story then?

4) Process maturity, dated if possible. Is the team doing all 4 core scrum ceremonies? Are they doing them well? Are they doing the elective Backlog Refinement? Do they like it? Do they work in pairs? Have they been trained in swarming? Is the Product Owner collocated with the team and available? Is the product owner the team’s manager? Is the product owner the customer of the project? If the team has taken the Nokia test, what was their score? When was the last release planning? Is the release plan updated each sprint? Has the team had an agile assessment? Does the team have an impediments backlog? Does management demonstrate velocity removing impediments from the team’s backlog? etc. etc. etc. Many teams makes an excel spreadsheet or score card of every practice they can think of, and score themselves on each 0-10 once a quarter or more. I’d caution, the goal isn’t to get all 10’s, but to experiment to see what is the MINIMUM process the team needs to do in order to at least double their velocity while improving quality and team happiness.

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I hope this helps some teams as they produce their own story, and internal or external case study, and then tune their agile implementation for even more awesome. Please comment or email with your external agile case studies. Let’s all learn together!

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