One size doesn’t fit all
Universities are diverse places, and different departments are often subject to different requirements, environments and key performance indicators. Naturally then, each of the Cardiff University teams seeking Agile training had their own reasons for doing so. The development team, for example, were looking to improve their ‘nuts and bolts’ understanding of the approach in order to apply it to future projects, while the communications team were interested in the ways it could speed up their processes to avoid an unmanageable backlog of tasks building up. The dental department, by contrast, wanted to know how Agile could benefit their research and development programme, among other departmental activities.
It was clear from the outset, therefore, that any training we delivered had to be tailored to provide the teams with practical, relevant advice about the things which mattered most to them. At the same time, however, we knew we couldn’t ignore the core principles of Agile - after all, any initiatives they launched would need to be underpinned by a solid theoretical foundation.
The heart of the matter
To balance these requirements, we held individual one-day workshops with each of the teams. While these all began in the same way - with an introductory overview that set out to answer the question ‘What is Agile?’ - what followed was as unique as the teams themselves.
Prior to the course, they’d all been invited to select a live project that they thought would benefit from the application of Agile techniques, which was then assessed by our specialist consultants during the training session. This interactive, collaborative approach enabled us to go beyond the building blocks of Agile and give advice that truly reflected real-world opportunities, contexts and challenges - drawing on all the experience we’ve built up over years of running Agile projects ourselves.
Ready, steady, go
Checking in with the university a couple of weeks later, we found that sprints had been started virtually as soon as the training sessions had finished - highlighting the benefits of an approach that combines the practical with the theoretical, and the general with the specific.
Cardiff University got the best of both worlds. Don’t you want the same?