Transitioning from Waterfall to Scrum

Summary

A large US-based pharmaceutical company had just begun a major new program building a system that would improve its ability to govern its product portfolio. While the organization typically used a waterfall approach on software projects, this program required a different approach; it was critical to this program’s success to deliver the system incrementally. An incremental lifecycle would provide visibility to stakeholders and ensure the system would provide the value expected from such a major and mission critical project. Construx trained and coached what became a 100 person team as they transitioned from waterfall to Scrum.

The Challenge

A large US-based pharmaceutical company had just begun a major new program building a system that would improve its ability to govern its product portfolio. While the organization typically used a waterfall approach on software projects, this program required a different approach; it was critical to this program’s success to deliver the system incrementally. An incremental lifecycle would provide visibility to stakeholders and ensure the system would provide the value expected from such a major and mission criticaThe program began with a small, core team which worked on automating reports used by the governance committee.  At the conclusion of the first release, team members believed they were on the right path, while remaining concerned that they would not be able to scale Scrum to meet the needs of the overall program. Some of their concerns were:

  • Gaps in the Scrum adoption resulting in inadequate visibility into the program
  • Lack of knowledge within the company on how to scale Scrum to a 100 person multi-team project
  • Apprehension among the staff about using a different lifecycle
  • Uncertainty about how best to map Scrum into a project governance model relying on critical chain
How Construx Helped

Construx expanded the Scrum deployment from a single team to nine teams working together to implement different aspects of the overall program functionality. The solutions included:

  • Building upon what had already been established to ensure it scaled to the larger multi-project program and fit within the organization governance model.
  • Tailoring the Scrum process to comply with the existing software product lifecycle.
  • Conducting Agile training with each new program team to provide a shared understanind of the methodology and approach.
  • Leading the first Release and Sprint Planning session for each team to determine how they would work together and create a release roadmap to guide their work.
  • Coaching and mentoring the ScrumMasters, Product Owners, and team members as needed throughout each sprint.
  • Setting up a Scrum of Scrums to provide program level visibility and guidance.
End Result

The organization successfully scaled Scrum to meet the needs of the program. Teams increased their responsiveness to portfolio and project managers and shortened their release cycles significantly. Among the improvements:

  • The program deployed its second release in three months, rather than the more standard twelve to eighteen months.
  • Portofolio and program manager shad unprecedented visitbility into project progress.
  • Business stakeholders changed the content of the third release based on work done during the first two releases, a shift previously not possilbe within a one year project.

Six months after the project had scaled, senior management commented that this project set the new standard for how the division wanted to run all future software projects.

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