In today’s business climate change is the only constant. Being nimble enough to anticipate and react to change in real time will reap the benefits. In 2001, the Manifesto for Software Development introduced a new way to manage software development teams. The methodology, called Agile, is based on a set of twelve principles established by the authors:
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation
- Working software is the primary measure of progress
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility
- Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly
Through the years, Agile methodology has spread beyond the software development world. Organizations have recognized its effectiveness in employee productivity and customer satisfaction. If you’re thinking of introducing Agile in your workplace, read on.
What is Agile?
Before you begin making changes to the way your team operates, you must fully understand what you’re about to recommend. First and foremost, Agile is based on the ability to respond to change effectively in order to succeed in situations with uncertainty. It emphasizes close collaboration between the developers and the business stakeholders. Customer or stakeholder satisfaction is the first priority. It also advocates early delivery, continuous improvement, rapid and flexible responses to changes, and adaptive planning.
Agile isn’t just a methodology, it’s a mindset. When making the transition to agile practices, remember that you will learn new skills and unlearn old ones. It’s important to remember that Agile seeks to change the way team members, managers, and customers interact.
In the most simplistic way, Agile methods are similar to what we do when we are overwhelmed with our workload. We sit down and make a list, we analyze and prioritize each item on the list, and we start executing. Along the way, we adapt and stay flexible as we go through the list.
Introducing Agile Methods to your Team
Evaluate your culture
Before diving into introducing Agile to your team, first evaluate the culture of your organization. Implementing agile methods will take time, and your company needs to be patient through this process. There needs to be a desire for change and an overall understanding of open-mindedness.
Start slow by testing small groups
In an agile setting, developers will interact with managers more frequently, but in shorter periods of time. These are referred to as sprints. Whether a sprint is a matter of weeks or months, the idea is to deliver results in small increments. You may run into trouble with some members viewing this as micromanaging. Remind them that in this environment managers work to help eliminate as many obstacles as they can.
It may be best for you to identify one department or project team to start testing agile methods.
Above all else, listen to your team! Pay attention to people’s questions and concerns about the new strategy. Be aware of what’s catching on quickly and what else needs improved. If necessary, look into on-site coaching. Change in organizations is good, but it does take time and effort.
Due to the rise in popularity of agile methods, there are many resources available to help you. Do your research and take some time to evaluate if your project team would benefit from Agile. When you’re introducing Agile, keep in mind this process won’t be quick and easy. However, the long-term benefits are worth the time and effort.