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May 8, 2012

Skyline Technologies — achieving speed and flexibility through "scrum" development methodology

Kyle HendersonKyle Henderson UWEBC Communications Director

No doubt you're familiar with the Gantt chart. What may surprise you is how long it has been around.

Henry Gantt lived from 1861–1919. He was an expert in what they used to call "scientific management." He developed a nifty way of visualizing the "waterfall" method of project management with its tasks, dependencies, milestones, terminal elements and the like. US generals were so impressed they used the new Gantt charts to manage the ordinance supply chain in World War I.

Fast-forward to the computer age

Manufacturing research in the 1980s produced another methodology better geared for speed and flexibility — two high values in today's business climate. Rather than viewing a project as a fixed whole, with successful implementation only at the very end, the "scrum" method takes its cue from rugby, the sport that gave the method its name. It sees even large projects as comprising a series of sprints and hand-offs between cross-functional teams and clients, allowing for multiple iterations and adaptible outcomes.

Skyline and Scrum

Skyline TechnologiesUWEBC member company Skyline Technologies are scrum experts, employing 25 Scrum Alliance-certified ScrumMasters. They've used scrum to develop applications for companies such as Jewelers Mutual Insurance, Integrys, SoftwareONE, Pioneer Metal Finishing, US Venture and Appleton Group Wealth Management (AGWM).

The project for AGWM was a custom financial app called "clearTrend." The scrum method enabled Skyline and AGWM to collaborate and adapt as the project advanced.

The result?

"I just want to let you and your team know how much we are benefitting from clearTrend," wrote AGWM CEO Mark Scheffler in an email to Skyline CEO Mitch Weckop. "In a little over one month since implementation, clearTrend has led directly to approximately $7 million of portfolio gains!"

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