Customer Collaboration Win!

Dear Kalle and Matte

I think we already have a post along these lines, but I thought I would make one anyway.

Yesterday my team went to trafikverket to watch our system that we build be used live by the customer service department. I know! Watch the people who use the system actually use it…. Crazy right?

Anyway, this was a super positive experience for all that were involved and I just wanted to share a bit about it.

1) You can never know how the user actually uses the system:
Within 10 seconds of having sat down, I (and other team members working with other people) observed an issue with the system that I had never observed before. This revolved around a search function that we never really use on this end. Simply because of the way our test system is configured, it is not really needed for functional testing. (I should note, we are completely unable to test in the production environment at the moment for reasons I won’t get in to). So, this function always seems unneeded to me when trying the system. But a quick observation of live use revealed they use is on every single call they take, and it is SUPER slow. The fix for this will be a very small amount of work (don’t know how much at the moment) and will save the service rep a few seconds per call, over several hundred calls a day, across 20-30 reps. You do the math!
This is only one example of a few 20+ actions we took away from the day. Most of which are easy changes that will make the system much smoother to work in.

2) Showing our faces:
I think the biggest benefits from this is showing our faces to the customers, letting them understand that we care about their feedback and how things work for them. I think this alone has a big impact of the customers perceptions of the system and their willingness to work with us to make it better. I would however note, I think there is an inherent risk with this. It now becomes absolutely essential that we implement some of the things they requested, or that they see some impact from these sessions, otherwise, the attitude of “we complained but nothing happened” will develop.

3) Getting the team charged up:
I think my team deserves major props for taking the initiative to do this kind of thing. As simple as it is, so few teams actually do it. So, they go and get the gratification of seeing that the system is actually being used by people, they get to feel good about themselves for making the effort to do so, and finally they get to feel charged up about making changes to make the system even better going forward!

So, in closing, what I am trying to say is that everyone wins in this scenario! This is just an overview I think I could write on this subject for hours, but I won’t 😉

//Jeff

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Personal improvement

Dear Kalle and Matte,

So, I have been thinking about this a lot lately…

Quite a while back I had a sort of epiphany to do with continues improvement (CI), I decided that CI was the true key to successful agile implementations, after that I started to see the need for this in everything I looked at, especially myself. But for this post I will focus on my role and a Scrum Master/Agile Coach.

So, there is a lot of places I want to practice CI, and I have had some limited success with this… Monthly meetings with the Scrumbeers group let’s bounce ideas off people, get feedback and think about new approaches… But, it’s not enough!

The issue is 2 fold:
1) Motivation and focus:
I basically know I need to spend some time reading blog posts, books, attending conferences,  probably a lot of other stuff… But I can’t seem to get my butt in gear and do it. I was trying for a while to read 1 fiction, then 1 agile book… The problem was it was always easier to read a fiction after a hard days work. I am thinking what I need is a solid plan of how often to spend on what. Like 2 hours book, 1 hour blogs a week. And 2 conferences a year… Or something along that line… Then I have to work hard on focusing myself and doing this. Thoughts? Maybe if we vowed to do something as a group? (Could include blog posts here)

2) What do I do!?!
There is soooooo much out there, it is really difficult to decide what to focus on. I tried looking online for a Scrum Master development path, but got no good results from that (Aside from the certification path). I feel I need to set some goals and limitations on myself, while at the same time leaving time to explore and examine ideas I would not normally…
Anyone got ideas about what to focus on? I have too many ideas is my issue…

So, what do you guys say? Who wants to commit a few hours a week to personal improvement? Or, do you think this needs to be a personal journey?

Also, any of our other readership is invited to weigh in on this conversation!

Jeff