The problems were observed early in the process because we actually showed the customer what they would be receiving.
Our team began our first Agile project last fall. The team was rather apprehensive as to whether this approach could work for the type of projects that we do, and very skeptical about the value of doing so. One of our main obstacles up front was identifying a Product Owner to work with us. We ended up identifying a “Proxy” Product Owner which has worked quite well in working as a liaison with our key customers. We did insist that a few of the key customers attend our Sprint Demo/Retrospective meetings. It was during this meeting at the end of Sprint #2, that our “light bulb” went on! During the demo portion, one of the customers noticed that the patient demographics were in the data string which could potentially be a regulatory violation. He also pointed out some formatting changes that he’d like to see on a report. Both of these were added as stories to our backlog and were easily corrected within the next sprint. To me - this is really what Agile is about. The problems were observed early in the process because we actually showed the customer what they would be receiving. They were quickly resolved. During the next Sprint Demo meeting, the customer was excited to see the revised formats. He also made the comment that he had never had so much communication during a project and that he appreciates the visual evidence of what we are working on. In addition, he mentioned that he is very impressed with how much work the team is putting out in the short sprints. Since that point, we have been much more successful in engaging our key customers in the process as they are starting to see the value of Agile.