Adopting a new framework for development that changes the way a company works is a strategic, long-term process rather than a quick fix.
What is Agile?
Agile is a people-centred and result-oriented methodology adopted from the rapidly changing world of software development. When implemented correctly, Agile focuses on self-organising, adaptive planning, fast and continuous improvement in quality, and short delivery times. It’s fast and flexible and uses tools like Scrum and Kanban, Scrumban or JIRA.
How it works and why we recommended Agile to our client?
In 2011, Jeff Sutherland together with a group of software engineers created the Agile Manifesto, a set of rules and principles that started the Agile movement. In the manifesto, face-to-face communication is one of the central parts of the Agile philosophy. Feedback is central in Agile because it is how companies move forward in the development process in the right way, that is, according to clients needs. Moreover, through cooperation, trust, and open communication, teams organise themselves in a way that allows them to decide how to prioritize and how to continually adjust the process to keep it simple.
Our team of consultants and the representatives of the client company had to admit that the “waterfall” method consisting of a “plan-build-test and deliver” sequence no longer matched the existing configuration of the company and its ambitions for development.
Another reason why we chose to recommend Agile to our client was the amount of positive change this method generated in companies of all sizes, all over the world. According to the Project Management Institute, almost three-quarters of organisations report using Agile. In 2017, Forbes interviewed five hundred senior executives who use Agile in their day to day work. 92% of them reported that organisational agility is critical to organisational success and 84% of them agree that “agility” is essential to achieving digital transformation.
- First of all, to successfully adopt Agile, a company has to have the necessary infrastructure, the organisational mindset to internalise the principles of agile development, and the buy-in from senior management and key stakeholders;
- After you’ve got the support of the leadership team, set the priorities. The backlog is a list of prioritised tasks created and managed by a product owner. Don’t dictate teams how they should work. Empower people to take ownership of their projects and let them find a way to deliver the best possible quality of work;
- Deliver in small increments. Maintaining a small release cycle allows you to incorporate valuable stakeholder feedback before proceeding further. What is great about the short sprints is that even though the project is tightly managed, inside the team, it seems like there is much liberty to decide on the projects. Additionally, you increase the competitiveness between teams since none of them will want to be the ones that didn't deliver on time;
- Build cross-functional teams. Break down silos and allow interdisciplinary collaboration. The advantage to this method is that all your experts will work towards a singular goal. This allows for continuous integration of all parts of a project which increases team cohesion and efficiency;
- Agile is all about iteration and continuous improvement. In large organisations, it is difficult to predict the outcome of a project because of the many variables involved. Instead of trying to be predictive on a large scale project, agile proposes an adaptive approach to defining early stages. This involves going back to the design phase if needed and iterating until you get the expected outcome;
- To lead, unify and accelerate the agile transformation, we created an Agile playbook that contains a step-by-step guide that helps teams be more efficient and effective. The playbook contains team health monitors to self-assess against eight attributes. It also includes “plays” to improve performance and acquire any lacking skills. The “plays” are not checklists or performance reviews; they are conversations for teams to have. It applies to all industries and all types of companies.
Agile is critical to organisational success and an indispensable tool in digitisation. It helps teams to visualise their work and allows for client feedback early in the process. As more companies are becoming digitised, the need for more speed, flexibility and efficiency will increase the adoption of agile methodologies.