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Hearing From Real Customers at Agile 2011

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 Catherine Louis and Shane Hastie are the producers of the “Working with Customers” stage at the Agile 2011  conference to be held in Utah in August 2011. 

The description for the Working with Customers stage states that

The “Working with Customers” stage explores the interactions between the customer community and Agile development teams, focusing on the non-technology functions as well as the Agile development teams themselves.

The goal of the Working with Customers stage is to hear from members of the broad customer communities, to hear about the real challenges of adopting Agile in diverse environments such as Telecoms, Financial Services, Government and other large, complex organisations. What problems have they encountered, and how have these problems been overcome?

The producers are seeking ways to reach beyond the normal target audience seen at Agile conferences and engage with the broader customer community, both to tell their stories and to attend the conference to learn how they can make the most of the Agile way of working.

In a recent conversation Louis and Hastie discussed the importance of hearing from customers of Agile development teams, providing feedback on how this really works if you are on the receiving end of an Agile development shop - the good, bad and ugly.

They now wish to reach out beyond the traditional audience for the Agile 20XX conferences to hear from these customers.

According to Louis “over the last ten years attendees at the Agile 20XX conferences have largely come from the technical community – team members who are working on Agile projects and people who are investigating Agile techniques and practices from an Information Technology perspective, our goal with the Working with Customers stage is to hear from real-world customers of Agile projects and provide them with an opportunity to share their stories, warts and all – what’s it like to be on the receiving end of Agile development”

When asked what they mean by customers, Hastie said “the customer community is a broad and diverse group ranging from the executive sponsor who authorises the expenditure on a project to the ultimate consumer of the product or service being delivered. These customers go beyond the Product Owner who is imbedded in the ‘ideal’ Agile team, they represent the broad stakeholder community who have a variety of conflicting needs that the project team must meet. We want to explore how and how well Agile techniques are delivering value in environments where a single customer representative doesn’t exist

Louis said: “As Agile has crossed the chasm and is being adopted in larger, more complex organisations we see that the challenges are changing – the technical problems are largely solved, the tough problems now seem to relate to the complex nature of the communities and communications environments under which these projects are taken in. For example, in the Telecom space, where there could be dozens of channel partners with customers represented across the globe, you can’t appoint one single Product Owner to represent all of these customers. Instead you need customer representatives equally spread across the globe, then to somehow coordinate disparate viewpoints into a single perspective which the Agile teams can use as a basis from which to build a product. In our stage, we’d really love to see real-world examples of how such Agile projects are seen from the point of the channel partner or end customer.”

A post calling for submissions can be found here.

About the Agile 2011 Conference
The theme of the Agile 2011 conference is Back to the Future - 10 years of Agility and Beyond.
The conference will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 7-13 August 2011.
The conference has 17 stages covering areas from Adoption and an Agile Boot Camp to Leadership to the technical practices (Development, Testing, User Experience. . .) to New Trends, Research in Progress to Working with Customers.

The submissions system for presenting at Agile 2011 is now open.  Important deadlines are: 
Earlybird submissions: 10 January 2011
Just-in-time submissions: 14 February 2011
Program Finalized: 18 April 2011


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