Increasing Maturity in Agile Software Development

The Brief

Our client, a Fortune 500 company, is a global provider of Print, Digital and Supply Chain Solutions. They help create powerful and cost effective integrated communications for more than 60,000 customers worldwide. Our client’s logistics services help customers save on distribution and transportation costs while improving delivery reliability.

“There are lots of companies out there who can help us build some software. Apexon is the only one I’ve seen that is committed to making us better at the same time. That’s a real strategic advantage.”

~ Client’s IT Manager

The Challenge

As the client’s logistics business grew rapidly, they faced difficulty in keeping up with changing demands and new opportunities in software development. Although agile methods and practices had been rolled out in the previous year, their logistics were not receiving the benefits of greater responsiveness, higher quality and maintainability, and shorter product release cycles. As a result, the quality needed improvement, and time-to-market was way too high – often well over a year, and occasionally as long as 18 months.

The Solution

Apexon performed an assessment of the current situation, and began introducing meaningful, impactful changes to the organization in order to improve the client’s maturity. This was executed within the confines of the development process, as well as in the greater organizational sense.

After creating a prioritized roadmap of areas to improve, a multi-faceted approach (consisting of training, piloting, coaching and paring) was utilized to start driving the transformation. In order to make the changes more immediately impactful and scalable, a combination of existing and new projects was utilized as the settings for the changes.

Over the course of the next 12 months, Apexon worked with the client’s Logistics team on a mix of large and small-scale coaching and training. Each product stream stack (including business partner and developmental teams) was allocated approximately 90 days of dedicated coaching and training. This coaching and training was a way to fine-tune the results and perform any necessary course corrections in the actual product development space. Generally, results were seen in as little as 30 days. Teams learned to utilize test-driven development, XP (Extreme Programming) practices, behavior-driven techniques, and design patterns in the development space. In addition, advanced training offered by Info led key resources to become Certified Scrum Developers and to help continue the work of growing and maturing teams.

In addition to increasing development maturity, our client’s logistics business partners were also given new skills in areas such as multi-level release planning, advanced product management, cross-team dependency management, and emergent product design. Combined with a new focus on fast feedback and minimum viable product, these business partners became better aligned and set the stage for faster product delivery. These changes set the stage for more alterations to come, in areas such as environment virtualization, release management strategies, increased automation (both functional acceptance testing and in build quality verification) and project management.

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