The top 4 Lessons Telco Can Teach You About Scrum Courses

Telecommunications industry, as a long-time leading sector of Information and Communication Technology, is always pushing the boundaries of IT and often the first to get over an obstacle the others are yet to encounter.

As for realizing the benefits of adopting agility, as early as in the 1990s, Ken Schwaber – co-founder of Scrum – has shown how successful Scrum can be for TechCore, a telecommunication firm, and generated an RoI of almost 1 billion USD in 6 months.

Telco’s impact on Scrum is at such level that the baseline evaluation test for Scrum practices – which is approved by Scrum’s other co-founder, Jeff Sutherland – was developed by Nokia, hence the name Nokia Test.

As their landscape is fiercely competitive and time-to-market is essential, for them it is an absolute must to have a short length of time between an idea being conceived and a product being available for customers, especially when vendors out there share the very same ambition.

Jeff Sutherland even gets to the point of saying that the agile competitors will drive those companies out of business that are lacking the ability to achieve agile leadership.

The sheer size of these companies pushes the boundaries of Scrum, but using extended frameworks such as LeSS and SAFe makes agility work even at their enterprise-scaled level.

They can teach us not only how to adopt agility, but also finding the most efficient way of the agile transformation. Whether you are just starting your inevitable agile transformation, or looking to improve it, picking the right way to do it is just as important as who you are going to trust with guiding your company through the process. How to do it is also where Telco companies can give you several lessons.

Who you should send to the first Scrum course

Telecommunication companies are usually big, having multi-layered internal structure, lots of vendors, various clients. Naturally, before taking a leap into Scrum courses, they scout ahead.

The bigger part of the organization embraces Agile, the better the adoption work, so it is of key importance to send people on agile courses that has a helicopter view of your company’s needs and processes. Your company is unique. Your clients are unique. What you deliver is unique. How you should deliver is unique. If you are developing cutting-edge software, your challenges are unique. Scrum is a great and simple tool and works well in a scaled environment, but as a framework, you have to integrate what makes your company great into the framework.

The people who understand what makes your company great and unique are your “best people”, simple as that. Having the whole company on their mind during the chosen Scrum course helps in understanding how the agile way of working suits you. They might be your team leaders, senior developers, devops specialists, you name it. Although they should be fairly close to software development, the bigger view they have on the whole company, the better.

They are also the same people who you can trust in making the important decision of picking the right training company that will guide the organization in the agile transformation.

Increase the success of adoption by having decision makers attend an in-house Scrum course

Once they have chosen the preferred agile course, the next action these companies took was having their decision makers – especially those who are in touch with software development – participate in an in-house course.

Understanding the way agile software development works is crucial for everyone relying on software development, and as always, using the same vocabulary helps in properly understanding each other. When adopting agility, development will embrace a rhythm, which can become the heartbeat of your organization. Getting in sync with this rhythm helps the organization to work as a whole. Agile delivery expert Kreisler Ng summarized it well when he said, “What you don’t want is some optimizations of people. We want them all aligned and in agreement of what the common goal you are trying to achieve.”
By bringing closer development and stakeholders – often even the clients – agile software development heavily relies on speaking the same language and on quickly understanding each other.

Co-location, as key value mentioned in the Agile Manifesto, helps in efficient communication, but in such a huge industry as Telco, it’s not always fully possible. Especially in these cases, stakeholders must understand the channels they ought to use, from the understanding the role of the Product Owner, to realizing the importance of joining a Sprint Review.

Have training and certification opportunities as part of the benefits your company provides

There is only one thing surpassing the number of talented people in the IT industry and that is the number of talented people the industry needs. Choosing agile environments over firms working in an ad hoc or classical way is often the preference of talents, especially young ones. As of a 2016 survey conducted by HP, two-third of respondent identified as either leaning towards agile or being pure agile.

Telco companies were already focusing on improving their workforce by training and certifications. Even after finishing their agile adoption, they kept the opportunity for advanced trainings – such as Scrum courses, Extreme Programming practices, etc. – as well as Certified Scrum trainings  – such as Certified Scrum Master, Certified Scrum Product Owner.

One of the competitive advantage they saw was that the general willingness of talents to join them greatly improved. Thirst for learning is a sign of great workforce, no wonder that the best people you can get are those looking for these opportunities.

Second is that people being able to learn from experts of agility yields great knowledge regarding WHY they are doing WHAT they are doing. Remember, you cannot do Scrum without understanding the values of the Agile Manifesto first.

Third is by investing in these people, you help them bringing your company to the extremes of what they can get from agility. By being able to optimize the processes affecting the whole organization, they are going to be more than just cogs in the machine.

Solid agile knowledge is required to scale it up to enterprise level

As Ken Schwaber stated in his recent retrospective article, in the last 20 years, Scrum matured a lot, while still remaining simple. One of the aspects of maturing was to understand how to scale agility and Scrum.

Telco companies dispel all doubts the naysayers might have regarding the scalability. The organizations are complex, usually having several legacy systems next to their new product line, and has such a vast array of interest that their multiple business units have different strategic priorities. This often means embracing a bi-modal model, where two methods of working can supplement each other. For a company operating with hundreds of developers and thousands of employees, having long and complex development lines, there are such tools today as LeSS, LeSS Huge and 3 or 4-level SAFe. These frameworks manage to specify behaviors and best practices that a huge company should rely on.

Disregarding the way they have chosen, they’ve built solid knowledge of the base agile principles and Scrum rules, as these are essential in achieving high level scalability.