Agile to the edge: 5 simple rules to scrum with COTS

I guess the first thing I, Saloua, should explain here is what is a COTS.

It sounds very alien but a COTS is actually an off the shelf commercial software (think Microsoft WORD). The idea behind agile is that you build your little piece of software and you make it better every single sprint. And if you made it worse by mistake, you can easily fix that in the next one. You build it all yourself. But how does the amazing agile framework work when you are using a software package? Most of the agile guru’s will probably say; mmmmmm, complicated! Well, this was my first challenge as I started on my agile adventure…

You might remember from one of my previous posts, that at that time, I was pregnant of my son Adam. A challenge in itself. And, to complicate the situation further, we decided not to “just” introduce agile in our large organization with our complex system. No, we added an extra flavor!  Challenge accepted! So my first experience with agile was with a product that is COTS. In the dutch language “COTS” (although written slightly different) means “vomit,” which is a funny reminder of my physical state at that moment. To make a long story short, you CAN scrum with a  COTS and you can achieve so much by doing that! Take into account the five simple rules below and you will hit the ground running.

5 simple rules to scrum with COTS

  1. Stay away from the product’s Core…do not change it! If you need to change it then this COTS doesn’t fit your needs. Find another one!
  2. Get a COTS that comes with a software development kit so you are able to develop you own stuff around the COTS.
  3. Build a partnership with the vendor of the COTS and make sure you have an agreement in place that gives you the freedom you need.
  4. Do not forget about support. Remember, you do not want to mess with the core so arrange for descent support for that with the vendor
  5. And, last but certainly not least: invest in people. Invest in your Squad to teach them how to configure, tweek and slighly change the product (of course staying away from the core)

Making use of  the simple tips above, it is possible to benefit from the agile advantages – adaptability to change and short time to market – while using an industry wide product. From my experience, this was a blast! And if I could do it, you can also do it!

Cheers! Saloua
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