June 28, 2016

Agile in Regulated and Quality-Critical Industries

After spending much of my time on the road the last two months visiting various companies from a wide range of industries, I noticed a common thread starting to appear for those in quality-critical and highly regulated industries. Can we do Agile even if we are regulated or quality-critical? The answer is YES, it's possible. "But how?" you may ask. To break it down to its core, Agile is a method for managing Work In Progress. You can still have your process that enforces compliance with various checkpoints to ensure quality, adherence to standards, and more. That does not have to change at all. Here is an example: Traditional requirements and specification documents are created for the project that sets out what needs to happen—design items as you are used to today. When it comes to breaking those down to tasks (things you actually have to do) you can use Scrum or Kanban. You take these requirements and break them into tasks. Scrum can now be used to help you manage a backlog or the work that needs to be completed, ranking it, having a team work on sizing those, setting out a plan of attack. Then, just like any other Scrum team, you can start to work on the tasks. As these tasks are completed, they will give you an accurate progress towards the requirements or specifications that you are trying to implement. Essentially, what happens is that we are taking a better approach to managing work in progress. The goal is faster delivery by making the work in progress easier to manage and breaking it down into smaller items that are easier to track. Based on what I have seen from a number of teams, it seems this approach gives them what they need to get the work done faster. The key goal should be to deliver better quality work in better ways. I think this approach could be a great way forward for many companies.

Learn More about Agile in Regulated Industries

Seapine has a good collection of white papers and guides on Agile topics, including: