Yahoo!

Executive Summary:

Yahoo! is a large enterprise with a $32 billion market cap[2004] and has one of the largest Agile implementations in the world. The adoption of Scrum and Agile practices has been steadily growing over the past two years, and now encompasses more than 150 Yahoo! teams in the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. The projects range from new product development for properties such as Yahoo! Autos to heavy-duty infrastructure work on Yahoo! Mail, which serves 250 million users each month around the globe.

At the time, the most visible symptoms of dysfunction in Yahoo! product development were at the project and team layer (centered on issues of planning, project management, release management, and team interactions), rather than at the technical practices or tools layer. As a result, Yahoo!’s initial focus was on the adoption of Scrum. There was active debate about whether Agile engineering practices should also be adopting in parallel; in hindsight, it would have accelerated the benefits had they been. But the constraints of time and budget, as well as a nervousness about “trying to make the elephant dance too fast, too soon” led to the postponement of those efforts initially. Yahoo! launched its Scrum pilot program in February, 2005. Four teams volunteered to try Scrum and share their experiences with the rest of the company. The teams covered a broad set of products and services including the Yahoo! Photos 3.0, a new backend for Yahoo! Mail, internal tools for managing small business sites, and a media site redesign. The initial commitment made by the teams was (i) to complete comprehensive Scrum training (which translated into Certified Scrum Master training for most members of the team); (ii) to work with outside Scrum coaches during the first several Sprints; (iii) to use all the standard Scrum practices described in Ken Schwaber’s “Agile Project Management with Scrum”; and (iv) to complete at least one Sprint (the term of art for a 30-day iteration in Scrum). It was made clear to the teams that after the first Sprint they could at any time choose to abandon Scrum if they found it unsatisfactory. At the end of the two months, the feedback was for the most part very positive; the teams liked the process and experience, and management saw positive results. What’s more, the positive word-of-mouth was spreading within the company, and other teams were beginning to express interest.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Agile team and strategy continues to evolve.
  • The Agile team has more than doubled in size and continues to grow.
  • Although they have over 150 Agile teams at Yahoo!, we still have a long way to go.
  • Some teams are very Agile; others do mini-waterfalls and call it Agile.
  • Change is difficult, and to change a company as large as Yahoo! sometimes feels like trying to steer a giant ship with a small paddle. They learned that patience is important, as is remembering that even the smallest of incremental improvements can have a massive payoff when you do them at a large scale.

Full Case Study:

 

2 Responses to Yahoo!

  1. Phoebe says:

    Hi! The full case study linked to the Yahoo! Scrum case study page (http://www.scrumcasestudies.com/yahoo/) is actually the case study for Intel. Is there actually a case study for Yahoo?

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