This is not the event year you are looking for. For details of our next event, please visit

To view the latest event website please visit

For the latest event:

7 - 8 May 2015

Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, UK

Can Agile Save a Sinking Ship?

Katie Buffalo Byng

Session type: Tutorial
Session duration: 45 minutes

About this Tutorial

This is a true story. I was there. I've seen things, man. Things you wouldn't believe.

The ad said something like "Agile PM wanted. Exciting, fast-moving project. Must be flexible, technologically sound, able to help the team turn on a dimeā€¦" and I think there was some bumf about wanting nice, smart people.

Let's rewrite that with a bit more honesty:

"We're completely underwater with technical debt. Literally drowning. You'll be working with a team of talented but completely jaded young developers and designers and that team will change on a near monthly basis as they give up and leave, one by one.

"You'll be managing development and maintenance on a bloated set of software, littered with piles of abandoned, half-built functionality and out-of-date integrations. The client is threatening legal action every other day and to be honest, we don't blame him.

"There's no account management - so that will be part of your job on top of everything else. Even though this is a business-critical client, as a company, we're tired of dealing with it, so decisions about resourcing will usually come down from a senior level in favour of clients that don't make us feel like failures.

"We heard a bit about "Agile" and think that it means someone who can perform miracles in an environment with no structure and no hope. We offer a competitive salary, Cycle Scheme, and Flexible working. No recruiters!"

It's one thing to be Agile when everyone is on board and excited to be there, or when there's a new project and a clean slate. What about when things are going as wrong as they possibly can - and have been going wrong for a very long time? Is there anything that Agile can offer in these situations?

In my tutorial, I'll be relating some of the specific situations I faced as a PM trying to integrate agile processes to help lead a disheartened team out of a pretty dire situation. I'll ask questions and lead a discussion of ideas and suggestions that other people might try- or have tried - in similar circumstances. Then I'll share what I did - and explain what worked, what failed and what I learned.

Did I help save the ship from sinking? That's a more complicated question than it might seem at first glance, and a more interesting answer than you might expect."

About the Speaker

I'm a proud Yorkshire-American who's been toiling in the digital mines in some form or other for nearly seven years now. I love Agile but hate buzzwords and BS so it's my mission to cut through all that and keep myself and my colleagues focused on the incredible quality that I know Agile can deliver.

Let's see, what else... I have amazing taste in music, terrible taste in films and I'm addicted to peppermint tea. Leave the bag in, please.


Session Types

Need help planning which sessions to attend? We've provided a breakdown of our various session types below.

Case Study/Experience Report

A presentation and discussion of real-life (not theoretical) experiences of the application (or mis-application) of Agile and Lean practices. Case studies and experience reports include some discussion of lessons learned and an indication of how novel the work is.


Participants learn a new approach, tool or technology through using it to solve one or more practical exercises. Any software/hardware requirements are disclosed in the session description.


A session focused around some specific tool, technique or issue. Primarily led by the speaker, tutorials usually include some elements of interactivity or individual / group exercise.


An in-depth working session on a specific topic. May include paper presentations.