Call SAS and you’ll be connected to a real person. That value is important to us. Visit any SAS user event and you’ll meet employees genuinely interested in listening to customer feedback ... employees from every division, even from the internal groups like Research & Development. Capturing customer feedback is vital, but only a start. Equally key is what SAS does with that information and how we factor customer input into plans for new or updated product releases.
In short, SAS responds by applying its own touch to the well-known agile practices.
“Agile” is an attitude of flexibility and nimbleness. It’s also the common name for a type of process workflow known as Agile Scrum. At SAS, we’re leading the way in both dimensions. That is, agile is a long-standing core value (#3: Be swift and agile), and it is also how we work.
Walk the halls in R&D and you’ll hear people speaking about their sprints and stories, you’ll see teams having scrums, and you’ll sense that they’re engaged in both planning and implementation. Sprints? Scrums? Stories? Jargon like this comes from the Agile Scrum. In effect, it’s a new way to apply older time-tested software development principles. Principles like laser-focus within short time-boxes (also known as sprints), collaborating together to work on plans and customer requirements (stories), holding frequent 15-minute checkpoints to share news and remove delays if issues arise (scrums), and providing internal demonstrations throughout the project life-cycle.
Since 2008, SAS has provided training on Agile Scrum to over 2,000 employees. Dr. Laurie Williams of North Carolina State University has led the way in helping educate SAS, augmented with coaching along the way. Implementing agile is a journey and the mindset has touched virtually every aspect of how SAS R&D works.
Most interesting has been how we’ve progressed with agile. Rewind the tape and you won’t find a top-down edict. You won’t find a crisis needing a solution. You’ll find teams that already were successful, yet sought innovative approaches. What you’ll find is a top-level champion and a steady stream of grass-roots adoption. You’ll find teams free to customize the set of agile practices most appropriate to their needs.
The world runs on software. The pace of change is accelerating, as are customer needs. Now with enterprise-wide adoption of agile practices, SAS is poised better than ever to respond nimbly to changes in the marketplace -- so that more of the world can run on SAS.