Tackling a Backlog with Agile for the First Time

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August 7, 2018
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August 15, 2018

The Challenge

A Very Large Backlog and a Team New to Agile Projects

A large regional health insurance company had deployed a new provider portal. As part of the ongoing maintenance and evolution of the portal as well as the efforts to continuously raise customer satisfaction, the business unit leadership had developed a large wish list of improvements and enhancements.

The business unit had budget to do the work on their backlog, but also knew that they could not expect to take on planning and delivery of everything all at once.

They decided to try a more agile and incremental approach to the program. However, most of the team’s leaders and team members had little or no experience using agile methods to deliver technology programs and results. They also wanted to get started right away, as the funding would expire in ten months.


We get up to speed before offering solutions. Our Right-Fit change discovery session and proposal are no cost, no obligation.

How We Helped

Diving Right In – Providing Leadership as Well as Training and Coaching Expertise

Farwell deployed an experienced senior consultant with program management and agile training/coaching expertise to take the lead at this client. Our senior consultant jumped with the client team right into the deep water – leading three weeks of planning prior to kicking off the first sixteen weeks of sprints.

Farwell’s consultant worked as an agile leader, trainer and coach to guide the team through the first sprint. He continuously helped the new team grasp concepts of agile delivery. Our consultant led the team through their first sprint retrospectives while guiding them through the processes of backlog grooming and ongoing planning. They were able to maintain momentum while transitioning between sprints.

Farwell’s consultant provided sprint status updates to the client business unit leadership, introducing the leadership team to the concepts of iterative value delivery while adjusting plans and objectives to meet changing needs and resource availability.

At the end of the first sixteen weeks of work, Farwell’s consultant led the team and functional managers through another round of release planning. They optimized the agile organizational structure by creating three smaller teams, updating release planning, and changing backlog management and team sprint planning processes.

The Results

Value Delivered – Experience with Agile Gained – Immediate Improvements Identified

As our client prepared for its next sixteen-week release cycle of multiple sprints, it gained the value from the new features and enhancements deployed in the previous release cycle, as well as the knowledge of agile practices through hands-on experience and coaching.

The client realized benefits of scaling the processes and enhancing their use of supporting tools.

The use of agile practices shows signs of an expanding awareness throughout the entire company, and Farwell is a trusted resource to provide training and coaching across the enterprise.

As a testament to the effectiveness of the Farwell approach,60 participants attended introduction to agile methodology training and over a dozen are on a waiting list for this Farwell-provided training.

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