Four years ago, Geonetric made a big change. We knew the software development process we had in place could be improved. Enter Scrum, an Agile software development methodology. On our “scrumiversary” we like to reflect on how far we’ve come, and to renew our dedication to continuous improvement.
One of the key principles of Agile is ‘inspect and adapt’ – that is, to constantly evaluate what you’re doing and analyze the value those activities are producing. If you’re familiar with Lean strategies for process improvement, than you’re probably familiar with the concept of a feedback loop. One such loop is the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process.
In many ways, Scrum is little more than a structured feedback loop. We plan work for a fixed period of time, do some work, check the results, and discuss what action to take next. Scrum has loops inside of loops, with multi-week, daily, and even real-time activities that examine and improve the software we’re building, and the process we use to build it.
As part of our focus on continuous improvement, we invited a software process expert into Geonetric this past month to help take us to the next level. As you would expect from a world-renowned expert, the advice he gave seemed pretty straight-forward – on the surface. He reminded us to make those inspection loops as small as possible. As he said, if you’re taking a road trip you should be checking the map more than once a day.
Easier said than done, of course. This reminder to look up and check your progress frequently applies not only to software development, but any Web project. As you’re planning your work, how can you build in a feedback loop, and how quickly can you generate that feedback? Can you put methods in place to get feedback in the next week… or even by the end of the day? So often on a project we get caught up in plan, do, do, do… ad nauseam, that we forget to check and see if what we’re doing is consistently delivering value.
The ‘inspect and adapt’ principle is something Geonetric supports throughout the company – not just in our software development. You can see it in our products and services – from the tight integration between VitalSite and Google Analytics, to the quarterly S.T.A.T. reports our clients receive. We constantly strive to connect actions to results.