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Agile Development the Squads Way
10 agile principles we apply to deliver maximum customer value every weekly sprint
@squadshq | www.squads.com
Content
Investment Proposal
•  Challenges in Software Development 3
•  Agile Development 4
•  Agile Manifesto 5
•  Benefits of Agile 6
•  Agile at Squads 7
1 Stable Teams 8
2 KanBan Boards 9
3 Pair Programming 10
4 Weekly Sprints 11
5 Remote Work 12
6 Real-time Communication 13
7 Retrospectives 14
8 Performance Ratings 15
9 Guns, Guardians & Guilds 16
10 Lean Startup 17
2
Challenges in Software Development
Investment Proposal
Designing and developing new software products is
challenging. The business context is extremely
dynamic, making it hard to plan ahead.
New products need to be adaptable and nimble.
This renders the traditional waterfall model for product
development practically obsolete. Approaches like
agile development, extreme programming and lean
startup help innovators remain flexible and customer-
focused. At Squads we specialize in designing and
developing innovative digital products.
To do this successfully, we rely on a mix of approaches
which we’ll discuss in this short guide.
3
http://bbc.in/29ogv3D
Agile Development
Investment Proposal
Agile refers to a flexible approach to developing
new products & services in a highly uncertain
context. It’s all about quickly building a basic
version of the product and then improving it in
multiple iterations. The product is refined based
on user feedback. The work is broken down into
‘sprints’ (1 to 4 weeks). A new version of the
product is delivered at the end of every sprint.
There is a wide range of approaches available
that vary strongly in how strict and
comprehensive they are. The guiding principles
for all of these approaches are written down in
the Agile Manifesto, which was written by a
group of software developers back in 2001.
4
The Agile Manifesto consists of four core values and twelve principles. These principles have proven
very useful for software development:
1.  Satisfy customers through early and continuous delivery of valuable software
2.  Welcome changing requirements, even in late development
3.  Deliver working software frequently
4.  Business people and developers work together daily
5.  Build projects around motivated individuals
6.  Convey information via face-to-face conversation
7.  Working software is the primary measure of progress
8.  Maintain a constant pace indefinitely
9.  Give continuous attention to technical excellence
10.  Simplify: maximizing the amount of work not done
11.  Teams self-organize
12.  Teams retrospect and tune behavior
Agile Manifesto
5
http://www.agilemanifesto.org
Benefits of Agile
Investment Proposal
A good amount of research has been done into the benefits of Agile over traditional product development
methods. Most research concludes that there are four core benefits of the Agile approach:
PRODUCTIVITY
Agile projects see a 20-50% increase in productivity. More projects are delivered on time and within
budget. This results in a huge cost reduction overall.
ENGAGEMENT
Project teams and initiative owners are happier with the project. They report better collaboration and
communication. Project visibility & transparency improve as well.
QUALITY
The software produced is better. 30-50% less product defects are reported and products are easier to
maintain. This leads to an increase in customer satisfaction and significant risk reduction.
TIME-TO-MARKET
Product delivery cycles are reduced and delivery frequency increased by 20-50%. Projects are more
responsive to changes in market and customer demands.
6
Agile at Squads
At Squads, we embraced Agile in everything
we do. Our platform and community of 45+
development teams is built on Agile
principles. We had a good look at Spotify
and how they scaled Agile with their tribes of
multiple Squads. But we have given it a slight
twist for it to work in our context and for our
clients. This results in a unique development
approach for digital products.
Check it out on Squads.com
Read on to find out more about our way of
working.
7
Building a high-performance team is
a challenge. It costs 4-6 months to get
a team through the stages forming-
norming-storming to performing. Most
organizations create a team for each
project. At Squads, we like to work with
stable, high-performance teams and feed
them projects. They can run 2-3 in parallel
and remain hyper-productive. Research
has shown that working with stable teams
increases productivity and customer
satisfaction by 60%.
The approach has worked for us and we
hear the same from our customers.
8
Stable Teams1
Investment Proposal
Work planning and management
needs to be simple, yet clear. KanBan
boards are great for this purpose and a
crucial part of our agile toolset. We love
them at Squads, especially when they
are available online. We like to work
with tools like Trello to keep things
going. These tools foster (remote)
cooperation between our teams and
the product owner on the client side.
All team members can pick-up and
track their tasks online. Everyone can
monitor progress.
It’s a great way to build things together!
9
KanBan boards2
Pair Programming
Investment Proposal
At Squads, we embrace pair programming. This is
an agile software development technique where
two developers collaborate on one screen.
In traditional cases they sit behind one physical
screen. At Squads, we do pair programming
online. We use video chat & screen sharing.
One developer, aka the driver, shares the screen
whilst writing code and ‘working out loud’ -
which basically means he’s explaining his/her
thinking. The other, the observer, reviews the
code as it is typed and gives feedback. These roles
switch during the process. We strongly believe in
the power of pairing. Not only for writing better
code, but also to stimulate critical reasoning and
learning in teams.
10
3
Weekly Sprints
Investment Proposal
Agile is all about developing in sprints.
At Squads, we typically do weekly sprints.
We cut out most of the overhead to make
this possible. Of course we do a call for sprint
planning, but we don’t do the daily scrum.
Team members can continuously
communicate through our online channels.
Work completed and pending tasks can be
tracked on Trello and via our Slack rooms,
which we keep per project. We present the
results to the customer in a weekly demo
(sprint review) and we host retrospectives as
a team to evaluate the way we work in general
and in specific projects.
11
4
Remote Work
Investment Proposal
Squads teams work remotely 95% of the
time. We hate losing time commuting and
are not convinced that offices and meetings
work well for software development.
Yet, one agile principle is: convey information
via face-to-face conversation. We do so, but in
an online setting. We use video conferencing
tools like Skype, Hangouts and Zoom.
With good equipment this works really well.
It’s still great to meet in person every now
and then. That’s why we have a bi-yearly
get-together. The digital nomads in our
community meet in person as they travel
around the world too.
12
5
Real-time Communication
Investment Proposal
When working remotely, communication
tools are critical. Our Slack platform is
At the heart of everything we do.
It’s where we have our project rooms, team
rooms, guild rooms and private chats.
The heartbeat of the Squads community
is visible and transparent for everyone.
We have connections to Squads.com here
and project owners can check all the
Github software commits. Besides a-
synchronous communication, we have
synchronous communication via tools like
Skype and Hangouts. We are in sync 24*7
with the community of team members,
customers and even company fans.
13
6
Retrospectives
Investment Proposal
Retrospectives are done at team level.
So not per project, just per team.
Members get together to evaluate their
performance across projects. The
retrospectives are normally a group video
call with a shared notepad. One person is
facilitating the meeting. These meetings
are always structured around three
questions: what went well? What can be
improved? What actions should we take?
Every improvement task gets an owner
responsible for picking it up. This way,
teams reflect on and tune their behavior.
14
Swarm IT team retrospective with team members from 5 different
countries working together on client projects via Squads.com
7
Performance Ratings
Investment Proposal
At Squads, every team is rated by clients based
on their deliveries each sprint. Performance is
rated according to the following criteria:
predictability, transparency and sprint results.
Performance ratings are visible for all clients on
the platform. This puts the pressure on teams
to deliver value in every sprint. It also ensures
that teams are actively managing team health.
Non-performing members are a threat to
the overall rating. That is why teams are invite-
only. It’s great that one of the agile principles:
‘teams self-organize’ really works well within
Squads.
15
8
Guns, Guardians & Guilds
Investment Proposal
The model of squads and tribes works really well
even at scale. Spotify is probably the most well
known case to prove this. But at Squads, teams
don’t work on a single Project. They work for multiple
clients. So we introduced some add-ons:
•  Hired Guns: are people with a specific
skill not represented in a team. Teams can
decide to pull in a hired gun for projects.
We have hired guns for design, testing and
continuous deployment.
•  Guardians: our customers want to have one point
of contact in teams. That’s why we work with guardians - a team member that is responsible for
client communication.
•  Guilds: we took the guild idea from Spotify and built it into our community. Everyone can join
guilds to share knowledge about front-end, UX/UI and growth hacking for instance.
16
9
Besides agile, we love lean startup.
We think it’s a great fit for the work we
do. Together with clients, we aim to
go through build, measure, and learn
loops as fast and intensively as possible.
By delivering working software in weekly
sprints, we can learn quickly.
This prevents customers from building
stuff that doesn’t work. It helps them
get to a minimum viable product (MVP)
as soon as possible. And it reduces the
amount time spent on features that are
not valued by users. All of our teams are fluent in Lean Startup and what this means for software
development. That’s how we deliver the best value for money.
Lean Startup
Investment Proposal
17
10
Iwein Fuld
iwein@squads.com
+31624731477
Get in touch!
B E R L I N – L O N D O N - N E W Y O R K - S A N F R A N C I S C O
Amsterdam (HQ)
Weteringschans 165

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Agile the Squads Way

  • 1. Agile Development the Squads Way 10 agile principles we apply to deliver maximum customer value every weekly sprint @squadshq | www.squads.com
  • 2. Content Investment Proposal •  Challenges in Software Development 3 •  Agile Development 4 •  Agile Manifesto 5 •  Benefits of Agile 6 •  Agile at Squads 7 1 Stable Teams 8 2 KanBan Boards 9 3 Pair Programming 10 4 Weekly Sprints 11 5 Remote Work 12 6 Real-time Communication 13 7 Retrospectives 14 8 Performance Ratings 15 9 Guns, Guardians & Guilds 16 10 Lean Startup 17 2
  • 3. Challenges in Software Development Investment Proposal Designing and developing new software products is challenging. The business context is extremely dynamic, making it hard to plan ahead. New products need to be adaptable and nimble. This renders the traditional waterfall model for product development practically obsolete. Approaches like agile development, extreme programming and lean startup help innovators remain flexible and customer- focused. At Squads we specialize in designing and developing innovative digital products. To do this successfully, we rely on a mix of approaches which we’ll discuss in this short guide. 3 http://bbc.in/29ogv3D
  • 4. Agile Development Investment Proposal Agile refers to a flexible approach to developing new products & services in a highly uncertain context. It’s all about quickly building a basic version of the product and then improving it in multiple iterations. The product is refined based on user feedback. The work is broken down into ‘sprints’ (1 to 4 weeks). A new version of the product is delivered at the end of every sprint. There is a wide range of approaches available that vary strongly in how strict and comprehensive they are. The guiding principles for all of these approaches are written down in the Agile Manifesto, which was written by a group of software developers back in 2001. 4
  • 5. The Agile Manifesto consists of four core values and twelve principles. These principles have proven very useful for software development: 1.  Satisfy customers through early and continuous delivery of valuable software 2.  Welcome changing requirements, even in late development 3.  Deliver working software frequently 4.  Business people and developers work together daily 5.  Build projects around motivated individuals 6.  Convey information via face-to-face conversation 7.  Working software is the primary measure of progress 8.  Maintain a constant pace indefinitely 9.  Give continuous attention to technical excellence 10.  Simplify: maximizing the amount of work not done 11.  Teams self-organize 12.  Teams retrospect and tune behavior Agile Manifesto 5 http://www.agilemanifesto.org
  • 6. Benefits of Agile Investment Proposal A good amount of research has been done into the benefits of Agile over traditional product development methods. Most research concludes that there are four core benefits of the Agile approach: PRODUCTIVITY Agile projects see a 20-50% increase in productivity. More projects are delivered on time and within budget. This results in a huge cost reduction overall. ENGAGEMENT Project teams and initiative owners are happier with the project. They report better collaboration and communication. Project visibility & transparency improve as well. QUALITY The software produced is better. 30-50% less product defects are reported and products are easier to maintain. This leads to an increase in customer satisfaction and significant risk reduction. TIME-TO-MARKET Product delivery cycles are reduced and delivery frequency increased by 20-50%. Projects are more responsive to changes in market and customer demands. 6
  • 7. Agile at Squads At Squads, we embraced Agile in everything we do. Our platform and community of 45+ development teams is built on Agile principles. We had a good look at Spotify and how they scaled Agile with their tribes of multiple Squads. But we have given it a slight twist for it to work in our context and for our clients. This results in a unique development approach for digital products. Check it out on Squads.com Read on to find out more about our way of working. 7
  • 8. Building a high-performance team is a challenge. It costs 4-6 months to get a team through the stages forming- norming-storming to performing. Most organizations create a team for each project. At Squads, we like to work with stable, high-performance teams and feed them projects. They can run 2-3 in parallel and remain hyper-productive. Research has shown that working with stable teams increases productivity and customer satisfaction by 60%. The approach has worked for us and we hear the same from our customers. 8 Stable Teams1
  • 9. Investment Proposal Work planning and management needs to be simple, yet clear. KanBan boards are great for this purpose and a crucial part of our agile toolset. We love them at Squads, especially when they are available online. We like to work with tools like Trello to keep things going. These tools foster (remote) cooperation between our teams and the product owner on the client side. All team members can pick-up and track their tasks online. Everyone can monitor progress. It’s a great way to build things together! 9 KanBan boards2
  • 10. Pair Programming Investment Proposal At Squads, we embrace pair programming. This is an agile software development technique where two developers collaborate on one screen. In traditional cases they sit behind one physical screen. At Squads, we do pair programming online. We use video chat & screen sharing. One developer, aka the driver, shares the screen whilst writing code and ‘working out loud’ - which basically means he’s explaining his/her thinking. The other, the observer, reviews the code as it is typed and gives feedback. These roles switch during the process. We strongly believe in the power of pairing. Not only for writing better code, but also to stimulate critical reasoning and learning in teams. 10 3
  • 11. Weekly Sprints Investment Proposal Agile is all about developing in sprints. At Squads, we typically do weekly sprints. We cut out most of the overhead to make this possible. Of course we do a call for sprint planning, but we don’t do the daily scrum. Team members can continuously communicate through our online channels. Work completed and pending tasks can be tracked on Trello and via our Slack rooms, which we keep per project. We present the results to the customer in a weekly demo (sprint review) and we host retrospectives as a team to evaluate the way we work in general and in specific projects. 11 4
  • 12. Remote Work Investment Proposal Squads teams work remotely 95% of the time. We hate losing time commuting and are not convinced that offices and meetings work well for software development. Yet, one agile principle is: convey information via face-to-face conversation. We do so, but in an online setting. We use video conferencing tools like Skype, Hangouts and Zoom. With good equipment this works really well. It’s still great to meet in person every now and then. That’s why we have a bi-yearly get-together. The digital nomads in our community meet in person as they travel around the world too. 12 5
  • 13. Real-time Communication Investment Proposal When working remotely, communication tools are critical. Our Slack platform is At the heart of everything we do. It’s where we have our project rooms, team rooms, guild rooms and private chats. The heartbeat of the Squads community is visible and transparent for everyone. We have connections to Squads.com here and project owners can check all the Github software commits. Besides a- synchronous communication, we have synchronous communication via tools like Skype and Hangouts. We are in sync 24*7 with the community of team members, customers and even company fans. 13 6
  • 14. Retrospectives Investment Proposal Retrospectives are done at team level. So not per project, just per team. Members get together to evaluate their performance across projects. The retrospectives are normally a group video call with a shared notepad. One person is facilitating the meeting. These meetings are always structured around three questions: what went well? What can be improved? What actions should we take? Every improvement task gets an owner responsible for picking it up. This way, teams reflect on and tune their behavior. 14 Swarm IT team retrospective with team members from 5 different countries working together on client projects via Squads.com 7
  • 15. Performance Ratings Investment Proposal At Squads, every team is rated by clients based on their deliveries each sprint. Performance is rated according to the following criteria: predictability, transparency and sprint results. Performance ratings are visible for all clients on the platform. This puts the pressure on teams to deliver value in every sprint. It also ensures that teams are actively managing team health. Non-performing members are a threat to the overall rating. That is why teams are invite- only. It’s great that one of the agile principles: ‘teams self-organize’ really works well within Squads. 15 8
  • 16. Guns, Guardians & Guilds Investment Proposal The model of squads and tribes works really well even at scale. Spotify is probably the most well known case to prove this. But at Squads, teams don’t work on a single Project. They work for multiple clients. So we introduced some add-ons: •  Hired Guns: are people with a specific skill not represented in a team. Teams can decide to pull in a hired gun for projects. We have hired guns for design, testing and continuous deployment. •  Guardians: our customers want to have one point of contact in teams. That’s why we work with guardians - a team member that is responsible for client communication. •  Guilds: we took the guild idea from Spotify and built it into our community. Everyone can join guilds to share knowledge about front-end, UX/UI and growth hacking for instance. 16 9
  • 17. Besides agile, we love lean startup. We think it’s a great fit for the work we do. Together with clients, we aim to go through build, measure, and learn loops as fast and intensively as possible. By delivering working software in weekly sprints, we can learn quickly. This prevents customers from building stuff that doesn’t work. It helps them get to a minimum viable product (MVP) as soon as possible. And it reduces the amount time spent on features that are not valued by users. All of our teams are fluent in Lean Startup and what this means for software development. That’s how we deliver the best value for money. Lean Startup Investment Proposal 17 10
  • 18. Iwein Fuld iwein@squads.com +31624731477 Get in touch! B E R L I N – L O N D O N - N E W Y O R K - S A N F R A N C I S C O Amsterdam (HQ) Weteringschans 165