Agile Evolution: From Project to Product

CMG logoAs an industry and global leader in advanced reservoir process modelling software, Calgary-based Computer Modelling Group Ltd. (“CMG”) supplies its blue chip customer base of international oil & gas companies with state-of-the-art simulation technology to determine reservoir capacities and optimize potential recovery.

Shell Canada logoCMG and global partners Shell International Exploration and Production (“Shell”) and Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (“Petrobras”) were undertaking a joint effort on a large, complex project to develop the next generation reservoir modelling and simulation system. The goal was to develop an evolutionary, dynamic software tool that integrated optimization of resource recovery from a reservoir while also modelling the complete hydrocarbon reservoir system from exploration to production.

As the Managing Director and Product Owner of the Integrated Reservoir and Production System Modelling initiative, Rob Eastick was looking to implement a reliable process to ensure the efforts of the project’s large and globally dispersed team of developers and subject matter experts were optimized as the solution moved from project to product release.

THE CHALLENGE


Develop and implement a repeatable and reliable Agile-based process to ensure ongoing delivery of product features across a globally dispersed development team.

THE SOLUTION


Quadrus defined a tailored Agile methodology that allowed CMG to scale project development practices to meet critical product release dates and reduce complexity associated with working across a global-based team. To improve product support activities, a Kanban framework was designed and implemented to increase efficiency and project transparency.

Agile Training to Suit All Team Members

Key to identifying an effective Agile process was providing all team members – Developers, Subject Matter Experts (“SMEs”) and management – a common language and nomenclature around Agile methodology and the underlying Agile principles.

Developers and Project Managers signed up for Quadrus’ industry standardized Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master and Professional Product Owner training while SMEs and senior management attended Agile and Scrum Fundamentals training that Quadrus customized to suit CMG’s Agile environment.

A Shared Definition of Agile

Team cooperating

With a common Agile language based on consistent interpretation of Agile principles and established Agile practices, the team’s daily operations were streamlined and a shared accountability emerged, giving rise to a safe and trusting project environment. The Development Team – a blending of CMG, Shell, Petrobras and Quadrus developers – embraced Scrum and Agile practices in both the technical and project management aspects of the project. Communication, collaboration and cooperation amongst the Development Team and various Business Units was commonplace and contributed to strong team morale and a sense of collective purpose. According to the Partner Committee consisting of CMG, Shell and Petrobras executives:

Case Study SMB, CMG TC 1

A culture change has been established within the Integrated Project Team that allows for better communication and more productivity of the team.

Excerpt from the Committee’s Project Assessment Review report

2018-07-24T13:34:06+00:00

Excerpt from the Committee’s Project Assessment Review report

Scaling Agile from Project to Product

With major development milestones released and the simulation tool now production-ready, the Partner Committee turned focus toward longer term product operations. This included transition from a project development mindset to taking on the rigors of ongoing feature releases, and meeting the various pulls and priorities associated with a commercial software product. Under Rob’s guidance as the Product Owner and drawing upon the experience gained working alongside the Development Team, Quadrus defined a holistic, 360° methodology to address ongoing development activities, release management and workflow visibility by combining relevant elements of Agile, Scrum and Kanban.

Kanban to Improve Visibility and Execution

Product team members carried on with Agile and Scrum techniques that proved effective during the solution development phase, and adopted a Kanban framework to increase process visibility and allow for identification of opportunities. The result was improved team performance with reduced technical and market risks, along with tactics for addressing the complexities involved with coordinating geographically-dispersed development resources.

Enduring Process, Continued Results

Since the production release of CMG’s Integrated Reservoir & Production System Modelling tool, commercially named CoFlow, the company has continued to reap the benefits of the 360° methodology that provides perspective and visibility into all the moving parts that come with managing a software product, including:

  • A development pipeline that enables predictable and efficient delivery of quality work product
  • Faster delivery through shortened delivery cycles with demonstrable product features per sprint
  • Effective collaboration, communication and cooperation amongst dispersed team members
  • Improved productivity with a focus on high value returns
  • Complete transparency and information sharing

In the words of Rob Eastick:

Case Study SMB, CMG TC 2

The process developed by Quadrus has proven effective and reliable. As the number of resources and demands of stakeholders have increased, the project continues to operate efficiently.

Rob Eastick, Managing Director & Product Owner

The Agile, Scrum and Kanban training program that Quadrus delivered served as a solid and instrumental foundation to the CoFlow project. In combination with the trust CMG, Shell and Petrobras placed in Quadrus to augment and mentor the Development Team, the right product management methodology for CoFlow’s ongoing sustainment was designed and implemented. At Quadrus, we are pleased and proud to have played a key role in affecting such a positive outcome for CMG.

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