Applying Agile Practices in the Refurbishment/Modernization of my housing society

In the rush to be a proud owner of a large independent penthouse apartment in a huge housing society I did not realize (or did not want to) the actual reason behind this good bargain!

I ended up being party to the following list (product backlog) of pain areas (or business needs) of the society members:

  • 1.Need of Generator backup to cater to the frequent power cuts at least for the common areas and lifts (I had bought my condominium on the top floor and could realize the pain!) – Must have and High Cost
  • 2.Modernization of the ageing lifts across 18 buildings (thanks to the substandard quality lifts which I realized when I started staying there L ) – Must have due to high risk however huge Cost
  • 3.Need for the CCTV Camera – Must have considering the frequent untoward incidents
  • 4.Seepage and septic tank upgrade
  • 5.Pavements, speed breakers
  • 6. And the list goes on….

This resulted into the society being least valued in that area and no ROI for the members who had invested in the society.

The society committee members were clueless on where to start (prioritizing with business value) with the given evolving budget and how to manage the timeline.

 Through this report, I intend to share how I utilized following Agile practices to overcome the challenges faced by the society members for its refurbishment and converted the society into one of the most sought out society over the period of few milestones (releases)!

  • 1.Prioritization(MoSCoW) of the backlog by agreeing up urgent need of the society in the given budget
  • 2.Continuous planning and re-prioritization of product backlog
  • 3.Outcome(Value) based agreement with various vendors
  • 4.Managing discipline in the acceptance criteria and retrospection (i.e. PWD lift inspection and approval for lifts functioning with the given municipality specifications and taking learning to replicate the same for future enhancements)
  • 5.Delivering end to end(INVEST) in the production in short releases ( i.e. one lift modernization end to end and commissioning of Diesel Genset end to end through incremental approach)
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Outline/structure of the Session


Context Setting [5mins]

 I. Product Backlog prioritization through highest priority(value) of the society members within the given budget(at various releases) in the following order  [10mins]

  1. Considering the need of senior citizens of society
  2. Risk pertaining to human life
  3. Security of the society
  4. Compliance with respect to the given municipality norms
  5. ROI for the members invested in the apartments – Increasing return through rentals
  6. Needs for amusement part for children
  7. Resale value of the society

II.  Release planning through the Society Annual/Special General Meetings and agreement of the backlog items. [5mins]

III. Continuous planning and Sprint planning by the Society Core Committee along with the vendors and managing the release/milestone schedule along with re-prioritization of backlog items(catering to unexpected expenses in the society i.e. immediate need of cleaning septic tank involving high cost but is priority) [5mins]

IV. Definition of Done(DoD) Agreement: Agreement of DoD between the Society Committee and Vendors in consultation with the Society members [5 mins]

 V. Agreement of Out Come based contract with Vendor and JIT approach i.e. agreement with Lift vendor to release amount as and when the lifts gets modernized (1 lift at a time rather than 18 based on priority with the given DoD and warranty period lock, thereby helping society not to give up funds up front) [5 mins]

 VI.Frequent review and retrospective involving the society members and PWD members to get their feedback on the work and the areas for improvement. This helped increase in confidence of the society members and were eager to bear the cost, also helped compliance of the municipality norms.[5 mins]

 Q&A [5mins]

Learning Outcome

Through this report I intend to share how the application of Agile practices helped our society continuously improve by implementing high value(priority needs of society) within the given budget over the period of time there by achieving the mentioned desired benefits.

Target Audience

Current and Future Agile Practitioners

schedule Submitted 4 years ago

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  • Ram Srinivasan
    By Ram Srinivasan  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    Nice one. I like it. Shows that Agile can be applied in real life as well. 

    What were your challenges in executing this project with Agile practices? How did you educate your society members and contractors/vendors about different practices?



    • Zaheerabbas Contractor
      By Zaheerabbas Contractor  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks Ram! 

      When I became the member of this society and volunteered to be part of the working committee we had following key challenges at hand:

      1.       Trust factor between:

      a.       Working committee and Vendors: Committee members did not trust the vendors on their capability to achieve the goals, while the vendors were not having faith in the committee members in terms of paying them for any major enhancement or modernization in the society.

      b.      Working committee and Society members: Society members had lost faith in the working committee to help improve the condition of the society as the results were not in line with the amount they had paid for the modernization of society.

      2.       Lack of clarity amongst the vendors due to limited collaboration and communication with the working committee

      a.      While the vendors were aware of the high level problem there was no clarity in terms of whether to go for a permanent solution or some go for some kind of patch work as a cost saving measure for the society.

      b.      The work was all adhoc and there were multiple communication threads from the working committee, hence vendors ending up into multiple activities and no focus on a particular piece of work for end to end completion.

      3.       Lack of prioritization between multiple demands, limited planning and governance and no visibility of work done against the amount spent.

      a.       Multiple requests from different members of the society and difficult to take them up at a time due to the budget constraints

      b.      Committee members clueless on how to handle situation and starts multiple things at a time resulting in further chaos

      c.       Society members not seeing the outcome against the amount they paid resulting in further discontent.

      While I did not educate or train the society members, working committee or the vendors on Agile or related practices directly, the approach I took was actually applying them gradually in the given situation. We started with following activities:

      1.       Called upon a SGM(Special General Body Meeting) and brought (almost all) the society members under one roof and came to a consensus on prioritizing the activities(was the most difficult thing!) based on the given factors that I have shared in my abstract.

      2.       Based on the data from the working committee members came up with the inflow of money (budget) on a quarterly basis.

      3.       Based on the budget and schedule (on quarterly basis) charted out the activities that could be completed end to end and open for general usage for society members  including the regular maintenance.

      a.        1st release(quarter) commissioned the Diesel Genset which was visible to the society members and started using as backup for lifts, water pumps and common lights. This increased the confidence level of the society members.

      b.      As the next release took up the modernization of lifts, again there were 18 lifts in the society and had to accommodate the modernization of each lift end to end in a release based on schedule and budget. Rather than taking up all lifts at a time which would take longer down time of all lifts and impact the convenience of society members and cost, took one lift at a time(end to end modernization based on the priority-state of various lifts).

      c.       And so one took other activities…  

      4.       Negotiation with various vendors on the payment based on the desired outcome i.e. acceptance criteria from society members and completion criteria(doneness) based on the compliance factors from the PWD(Municipal) inspectors of the city corporation. This was beneficial in multiple ways:

      a.       The vendors would get regular frequent payment as per their work outcome based on the fixed criteria set. Also help them continue their AMC (Annual maintenance contract) with the society which was good for their long term revenue inflow and good connect with the society.

      b.      Society members got to see and use the modernization undertaken which increased their confidence and were ready to increase the budget for further activities (Modernization backlog) in future releases.

      5.       There were frequent meetings (standups, sprint planning in our language) set amongst the working committee members (and vendors) to monitor the progress and adjust accordingly due to some unexpected hindrances /challenges that came on the way.

      6.       While the society members were updated on the activities planned and work remaining , they were able to see the progress(visible due to focused approach on few activities rather than all)

      7.       The quarterly release was slowly reduced to 2 monthly and currently monthly due the increase in funds received from society members after seeing the improvement.

      Today (after 6 releases i.e. around 1.5 years) following are benefits achieved:

      ·         The incidents/complaints related to lift break down have come down by 90%.

      ·         The higher floor apartments have 100% occupancy (rental) helping the owners to get their ROI

      ·         The property prices have appreciated by 130% (I bought my apartment in mid-2010 and this is what I am getting as appreciation for my apartment today without any negotiation. There was a time when no one was ready to invest in this society 2 years back). The selling price is in line with other societies and not going for discounted rates as it was earlier.

      ·         Due to availability of electricity 24x7 the buildings have no shortage of water flow due to planning of water supply through pumps without any worry of power cut

      ·         There has been reduction of 10%-12% in the electricity bills due to the modernization, which will be huge benefit in long term!

      ·         Due to continuous planning based on the prioritized value in short cycles we were able to budget for children play area(Badminton, basketball and volley ball + small gym and table tennis area and repairing the pool filtration plant making it operational)

      ·         We were also able to invest in music system + chairs, which has helped the society members to host small functions near the pool side or the common area, also generating income for the society.

      Over and above we can feel the happiness of society members (cannot measure it but can feel it by the respect we get today J )



      • Sachin goel
        By Sachin goel  ~  4 years ago
        reply Reply

        Thanks Zaheer - reading though it took me to the bitter socitey meetings of my own flat. Now it seems "where there is a will, there is a way" :)

  • Sachin goel
    By Sachin goel  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply


    Curious to know if you did talk about Agile principles with your socitey members, or it was more like actions than theory?

    Interesting submission anyways - thanks.


    • Zaheerabbas Contractor
      By Zaheerabbas Contractor  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Sachin,

      Thanks for your response. I have detailed out the information in response to Ram Srinivasan's query. It covers the answer to your query on how did I try to imbibe Agile principles to the society members.

      Would be happy to answer any follow query that you might have.


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