Consultancy Scrum: Making agile work for clients and vendors

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Why Scrum is difficult for vendors

Scrum and other agile methodologies were created by organizations to manage and develop their own products using their own resources. As a result, they're inward-facing. The stakeholders, Product Owner, Scrum Master, and team are all part of a single company. Budgets and resources are often managed by a single entity. All parties are invested in the process, which makes communication between stakeholders and the team relatively easy.

Vendors, however, are external to the client, so our Scrum must be outward-facing. We cannot rely on the client to be good stakeholders or Product Owners. Clients control the budget, and we control the resources. Not all parties are invested in process. Often, the client has hired us to simply make a problem "go away," and they don't care what methods are used to manage the project.

How can we make Agile work for clients and vendors?

In this session, we will explore this question in detail, drawing heavily from Four Kitchens' six years of experience bringing agile methodologies to our clients' projects. Our goal is to explain how we've modified scrum to work in a client-facing environment — and how you can make it work, too. The following topics will be covered:

  • Identifying the problem: Scrum was designed for products and internal teams and stakeholders. Consultancies work on projects with external teams and stakeholders.
  • Line-by-line comparison of Scrum Classic™ and Consultancy Scrum (Four Kitchens' approach).
  • Who should be the PO? The pros and cons of assigning Product Ownership to the client or vendor.
  • How to effectively manage clients' expectations and emotional needs by adding an Account Manager role to the project.
  • What a contract or "Scope of Work" means in an agile environment — and how to effectively manage them.
  • ...And much more!

Related materials

About the speakers

Todd Nienkerk is a Digital Strategist and Partner at Four Kitchens in Austin, Texas. He and the other Web Chefs spend their days making big websites. Todd is also a Certified Scrum Product Owner, which is something he doesn't get to say very often (especially in the third person).

Suzy Bates is the Director of Projects at Four Kitchens. She has worked as a consultant and inside IT for organizations of all sizes, helping people understand that the steps to success often require planning and following the plan — even when things are difficult. A certified Scrum Master, Suzy has experience with many manifestations of "Agile in name only" teams and was relieved to find that Four Kitchens has collaborative, communicative, and functional Scrum practices.

Paul Benjamin is a Project Manager at Four Kitchens. As a certified Scrum Master, he is an expert in managing technical and creative teams on multiple projects in simultaneous development. In addition to his project management expertise, Paul brings the Four Kitchens team diplomatic problem solving skills learned as a U.S. Foreign Service representative living overseas in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He’s also a New York Times bestselling comic book writer and editor who has written for Spider-Man, World of Warcraft, Muppets and more.

Schedule info
Experience level: 
Drupal Version: 
Time slot: 
Wednesday · 10:45-11:45
E - Phase2 | 4th floor


@Cam: I removed the DrupalCamp Atlanta link because the slides were out of date. I replaced it with the slides from this presentation, which contain much newer and more complete info.

You're awesome! Great session! I'll be sure to leave feedback.