Being Agile in Business Systems

I should probably start with some self-congratulation, given that I’m now a Certified Scrum Product Owner, having spent two days with the excellent Roman Pichler. I’m looking forward to seeing my name on the Scrum Alliance website!

Given that the product that I own is business systems, that my development resource is minimal and that is passionate about running as much of our business as possible on industry-leading SaaS services, it wouldn’t seem immediately obvious as to how a methodology for developing complex (software) products could be successfully applied in this arena. It would be shortsighted to believe that scrum didn’t have its uses in such an environment.

We’ve embraced our product backlog, which is growing ever larger. I see this as a success: we’re breaking down our epics and word is spreading about the efficiencies that have been delivered in the last year. The downside, of course, is that as the list gets longer, the percentage that’s achievable in a given timeframe starts to shrink. Time being a finite resource, being realistic about what can be achieved in a quarter will ensure that we don’t start to over-promise and under-deliver. The course didn’t cover, in any level of detail, using a product roadmap and this is something that I would like to start to articulate.

As for the items on the backlog, after a thoroughly entertaining exercise around personas and user stories, I would like to use user stories to articulate the work items that we want to achieve. Defining business value is always difficult, especially when everything is a priority to someone and user stories could be a good tool to allow us to assess the impact and importance of a proposed change.

I’m looking forward to articulating just where the good ship Business Systems is going.