The rapidly growing Decipher product team needed help embedding scrum agile practices, prioritising features and improving delivery efficiency.
We felt they would benefit from a dedicated scrum master as the role was being lumped on to senior leaders with other responsibilities, creating distractions and bottlenecks.
We placed one of our experienced product delivery specialists as scrum master at Decipher to prioritise backlog while providing a test case for filling the role permanently.
A year after the MVP launch, the Decipher team had grown exponentially, released a slew of new features across multiple releases and was working to expand the product suite into more industries. The product team and feature set weren’t the only things growing… so too was the backlog.
The product delivery manager had taken on the task of facilitating sprints and was working to implement more agile practices, but this additional workload distracted attention from the strategic oversight and responsibilities of his actual role.
With an expanding product team tackling a growing number of user stories, feature requests and urgent bug fixes, they began to experience communication silos and lack of clarity around prioritisation. And the team was finding it increasingly difficult to tackle important tasks that fell outside the urgent quadrant. It wasn’t sustainable.
Identifying the opportunity
Recognising their growing challenges, Decipher’s senior team started toying with the idea of bringing in a dedicated scrum master. However, there wasn’t total agreement this was the solution the team needed and they needed buy-in from across the business for it to get across the line and succeed. They just weren’t quite ready to pull the trigger on a new hire.
Because of our collaborative working relationship, we picked up on this conundrum and offered a compelling solution: take on one of our veteran product delivery specialists on a short-term basis. Not only would this enable them to trial a dedicated scrum master, they had the added benefit of getting one with demonstrated capabilities and existing knowledge of their product and business.
Testing and validation
Like a good science-based organisation, the Decipher team was eager to take us up on the offer to test the hypothesis. Within a couple of days, our Hatchdling Donna was all set up and reporting to work at Decipher as the scrum master several days a week.
Given her client knowledge, agile experience and natural leadership skills, she hit the ground running from day one. She worked with the team to develop a more visible feature backlog and implemented sprint goals into release planning to create accountability. She ran daily standups, showcases, retrospectives and sprint planning sessions; recorded actions and followed up on them; forced conversations to happen, and removed roadblocks.
"Donna's work ethic and charisma helped us get a scrum master capability in the team on day one. The improvements to the team and process have been clear, all on a part-time basis."
Donna listened to what the team needed and adjusted her approach as necessary. Operating as a servant leader, she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty too—she packed up the Christmas decorations after the holidays so the responsibility didn’t fall to others and distract from their delivery priorities (the joys of start-up life 😊).
“Donna has demonstrated skills as an exceptional leader, one who I aspire to be like. She has a way of making people feel comfortable, yet pushes them to think outside the box, and really challenge themselves and the team.”
Proof of concept
After having Donna on the team for two months, the Decipher team was convinced a scrum master was just what they needed and began recruiting for a permanent solution. We’re chalking it up as a success, but don’t take it from us. Here’s what Decipher CEO Anthony Walker had to say:
“The strategy to outsource the role for a period of time to Hatchd to help prove our hypothesis (gut feeling) worked extremely well for our business. Being able to call on a key partner for an exceptional, pivotal resource in this manner was quick and easy, and helped reduce risk for my team. We can now continue to build out our SCRUM teams quickly, enabling us scale-up to meet the demands of the business as the product lines grow. Hatchd and Donna have provided a wonderful, flexible service and I would highly recommend them to anyone.”
Interested in working with us?
Whether you have a clearly defined product brief or you're not sure wherein the problem lies, drop us a line for a no-pressure chat about where you are at and how we might help.