The software house had about 40 employees with clients throughout the world. They included the world’s largest private equity company. Needless to say such clients were quite demanding.

Yet the quality of the deliverables to these clients overtime reduced dramatically. To such a point that a number of them stopped or threatened to stop maintenance and support payments altogether.

This is a very critical moment. The company would very quickly run out of money.

Something had to change. The company had to adapt an agile approach. Yet we needed to have governance because we had plans and clients were paying. So we adopted the Agile Project Management method DSDM.

This gave use all the usual benefits but also allowed us to improve quality in three ways:

  1. the introduction of the hardening time box made sure everybody in the company was focused on quality not just testers
  2. after a release we made sure that our very best people were available to turn around defects the clients discovered during their own UAT as fast as possible.
  3. all clients were invited to a “show-and-tell” out at the end of each time box and were explicitly asked to try to use the software, thus making sure we had built the right thing.

This also allowed us to focus on building new functionality making sure that we always had automated test cases for new functionality. Thus the gap in automation never increased but actually decreased as additional tests were written. After three releases the gap was completely enclosed.

One year later we had 76% fewer critical defects raised by clients. Not only that the global head of IT for one client reported that “he was not happy with the quality… He was ecstatic!”

Yet, how does Agile help with continuous improvement? Read about that next

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