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Agile Contracts - Interview Questions for Agile Vendors

This content provides scenarios and questions that are intended to guide the the government representative during  the interview and evaluation phase where a vendor representative has been shortlisted and is being considered for an Agile delivery RFI or RFP. These sample questions can be used to assess the overall experience, competency and compatibility of a vendor or contractor for Agile product development or project management  engagements. Please refer to the “Agile Roles: Interview Questions” guide for interview questions for evaluating candidates being considered for specific roles in agile methodologies (e.g. Scrum Master, Solutions Architect, etc.).

1. Product Development: Scope and Changing Requirements

Interview Questions Agile Response Samples
How do you apply Agile in your general Product development process? Process in place to capture requirements and continuously evaluate the product backlog items:
  • Users are the center of design to source requirements, test and accept functionalities throughout development
  • Recurring sessions with the customer representative (Product Owner) to review backlog, (re)prioritize and update requirements.
What is your process for seeking, capturing and managing customer feedback and requirement changes during product development? Engages with customer representatives on an ongoing basis:
  • Plan to implement an agreed process for Change Management with the customer during sprints
  • Recurring product demos or meeting sessions for capturing feedback
  • Ongoing backlog planning and requirement negotiation sessions to work on highest priority work based on scope and product objectives throughout the product development lifecycle (e.g. The priority of not yet implemented functions can be downgraded in favor of new requests that are prioritized more important to achieve the primary objective of the contract).
Can you provide case studies of Agile projects with similar complexity involving a product? Shows effectiveness of sprint planning, implementation and release process
  • Sufficient details on a high-level or kick-off (design) sprints before starting on the delivery sprints
  • Dependency identification process
  • Resolution in the sprint planning
  • Low number of defects and integration issues during releases

2. Project Management Process and Approaches

Interview Questions Agile Response Samples
What is your team’s experience with Agile methodologies (e.g. Scrum, Kanban, Lean, SAFe, etc.)? Identifies key personnel for Agile team roles and skillsets.
  • Project team is defined with cross- functional representation i.e. Scrum Master, Product Owner, Development Team (Web, database, etc.), UI/UX designers, testers, etc.
  • Experience and Credentials of Scrum Master, Product Owner (CSM/CSP, CSPO, etc.)
  • The individual team members that will carry out the project can be present for individual interviews
  • Plans for how the Team focus on identifying daily hurdles and having these obstacles removed quickly by the Scrum Master
What is your approach for estimation and capacity planning? Process in place to predict capacity during sprint planning and ensure sprint delivery commitments.
  • Relative estimation approaches (e.g. story points) for vague/broad requirements
  • Velocity determination as requirements are broken down
How do you break down work into manageable user stories and tasks? Dives further into the roles on the team, specifically the technical roles.
  • Identifies the technical personnel who are responsible for scoping user stories and setting technical direction. Is the technical direction being set by junior or senior personnel?
Describe an ideal work week Framework and rules of engagement to ensure development team is working as efficiently as possible.
  • Description of communication channels from product owner/ stakeholder to development team and vice versa
  • Further elaboration of daily scrum/ standup meetings- technologies used, format, timing.
How do you measure performance and effectiveness? Framework for capturing product metrics (e.g. effectiveness, quality, sprint / product Burndown/Burnup charts, etc.).
  • What success looks like on similar Agile Projects. Request for examples from specific projects.
  • What kind of reports / dashboards will be generated
  • Sample measures in relation to Story Cycle Time, Velocity, Defect Density, test statistics, etc.
  • How customer meetings would be conducted, plain status reports or contain insights and learning from the retrospectives. Request for sample reports to evaluate.
What approaches do you use for continuous process improvement? Mechanisms in place for effective retrospectives / Lessons Learned sessions.
  • Measures of velocity to set higher targets for improvements
  • Review work process at the end each sprint and take corrective actions

3. Delivery Process

Interview Questions Agile Response Samples
How would you explain a minimum viable product (MVP) based on your delivery approach? Process ensures the highest priority items are delivered in increments.
  • Ready and able to showcase development process if given one week to develop a piece of functionality
  • Process in place to deliver increments which represent a cumulatively growing subset of the final product
  • Deliver the minimum set of features required to meet the objectives of users and customers
What process do you use to identify end-users and capture their needs? Process ensures end-user requirements are continuously reflected in the effort.
  • Methodology (e.g. Focus group workshops, surveys, interviews, shadowing, mindmaps, etc.)
  • Sample questions to be answered by users, that are intended to facilitate the understanding of user needs and not developing fully detailed specifications upfront
  • Participants: sample list of primary characteristics of users or personas to be recruited to participate in the research or approach for persona identification
  • Schedules: that are timeboxed and iterative, enable the process for feedback
  • Tools: UI / UX demo and test tools, meeting space needs
  • Reports / results format and dates
How do you execute integration communications, testing and release management? Sufficient engineering checks and balances in place to minimize defects and ensure delivery quality.
  • Approaches for design reviews, code review and unit testing e.g. automation practices
  • Plan for integration testing and / or performance testing for big releases
  • Process to ensure test cases and automation scripts are up-to-date
  • Support system of experienced designers/architects for ongoing architectural reviews to capture technical requirements
  • Communication plan with technical stakeholders
  • Agreements on the definition of done for each delivery/product increment
What are examples of Agile tools and technology you are familiar with? (e.g. software development) Shows tangible experience with a pool of tools and technologies relevant to the domain in question and support the Agile delivery and development process.
  • Examples of end-to-end tools used to facilitate projects (e.g. JIRA, Rally, VersionOne, Trello, DevOps tools for continuous delivery, etc.)
  • Examples of experience in IT Architecture and system development using Agile and DevOps development practices
  • Example projects and solutions to the cloud, hybrid, or on premise data centers, and employing automated testing
  • Security tools and practices needed at the code and user level; request examples the tools used.

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