Since the global pandemic emerged in early 2020, organizations are now aware of the opportunities and challenges ahead and realize being successful in the digital age requires agility in software development and delivery, as well as business strategy and operational execution.
To survive and thrive in today’s market, businesses must be able to rapidly adapt to changes in customer demand and technological advancements. The agile methodology provides a framework for doing just that. This post will explore what the agile methodology is and how businesses can use it to effectively transform their operations.
The 15th State of Agile Report findings indicates significant growth in Agile adoption within software development teams, increasing from 37% in 2020 to 86% in 2021. Over 94% of companies claim to practice agile in some shape or form.
What is Agile Methodology?
The Agile methodology is an iterative software development process that enables teams to respond to change quickly. It’s an approach that has been around for over two decades but has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years because of the growing demand for faster product delivery.
The Agile methodology is based on a few key principles, including customer collaboration, continuous delivery, and evolutionary design. The goal is to deliver working software in short cycles, with regular feedback from stakeholders, so that the team can adapt and improve the product as it goes.
Why use Agile Methodology?
Agile project management has become so popular partly due to the fast-paced nature of business today. Organizations that have adopted Agile methodologies can respond to market dynamics and complete more of their projects successfully.
Agile training is an ideal way to level-set your organization and project team on the foundations of Agile and associated implementation methodologies. Agile training can clear up many misconceptions and misunderstandings about the operations of Agile. It can also help expose the underlying Agile concepts and clarify the differences between the various implementation methods.
Here are some benefits of adopting Agile Methodology:
- Easily and Quickly Adapt to Change
Agile divides the project into short sprints that are both manageable and flexible enough to allow the team to implement changes on short notice. This unmatched flexibility is one of the top reasons why dynamic organizations prefer to use Agile in their project. Teams not only adapt to change in Agile but they are also encouraged to embrace the practice. Agile acknowledges that customer needs change and that teams must be able to adapt.
- Higher Product Quality
In Agile Methodology, testing is an integrated part of the project execution phase which means that the overall quality of the final product is greater. The client remains involved in the development process and can ask for changes depending on the market situation. Since Agile is an iterative process, self-organizing teams keep on learning and evolving with time and continue improving.
- Better Project Predictability
Waterfall projects are lengthy project cycles that make it difficult for teams to predict a release date accurately. Agile iterations happen in time-boxed sprints that result in a working product at each release. Therefore, the product owner knows that they will get new features at the end of every sprint.
- Better Project Control
The team and the product owner work together to determine what goes into each sprint, that way, the team is on the same page about what needs to be delivered. Also, there is less of a chance of surprises or unplanned features making it into the build. Daily standup meetings keep everyone aware of project status so issues can be addressed quickly. Planning meetings allow teams to prepare for the upcoming sprint.
- Improved Team Morale
Agile Teams are self-organizing and self-managing, they have increased autonomy and authority over their decisions. The cross-functional nature of the teams also helps the members learn new project management skills and grow in their current roles. The team gets together frequently to discuss challenges and statuses letting them collaborate better.
How to implement the Agile Methodology?
If you’ve decided that the Agile methodology is the right approach for your project, customer, and company, here are a few steps on how to implement Agile successfully.
- Get Stakeholder Buy-In
To successfully adopt Agile you need to get everyone on board before you begin, talk with key players, explain the benefits of Agile, address any concerns they might have, and answer their questions. Agile emphasizes collaboration with project teams, customers, and other key stakeholders.
- Project Planning
Like before any product your team should understand the end goal and the value to the organization or client or how it’s going to be achieved. The purpose of using Agile project management is to be able to address changes and additions to the project easily, so the project scope shouldn’t be seen as unchangeable.
- Product Roadmap
A roadmap is a breakdown of the features that will make up the final product. This is a crucial component of the planning stage of Agile because your team will build these individual features during each sprint. At this point, you will also develop a product backlog, which is a list of all the features and deliverables that will make up the final product. When you plan sprints, later on, your team will pull tasks from this backlog.
- Release Planning
In traditional waterfall project management, there is one date that comes after an entire project has been developed. When using Agile, however, your project uses shorter development cycles which are called sprints with features released at the end of each cycle.
Before kicking off the project, you’ll make a high-level plan for feature releases and at the beginning of each sprint, you’ll revisit and reassess the release plan for that feature.
- Sprint Planning
Before each sprint begins, the stakeholders need to hold a sprint planning meeting to determine what will be achieved by each person during that sprint, how it will be achieved, and consider the task load. It’s important to share the load evenly among team members so they can accomplish their tasks during the sprint. You’ll also need to visually document your workflow for better understanding within the team and transparency.
- Daily Stand-Ups
To help your team achieve their tasks during each sprint and evaluate whether any changes need to be made, hold short and straightforward daily standup meetings. During these meetings, each team member will briefly talk about what they accomplished the day before and what they will be working on that day.
These everyday meetings should be only 15-20 minutes long. They aren’t meant to be raised in problem-solving sessions or a chance to talk about general news items. Some teams will even hold these meetings standing up to keep it brief.
- Sprint Review and Retrospective
After each sprint ends, your team should hold two meetings: first, you will hold a sprint review with the project stakeholders to show them the finished product. This is an important part of keeping open communication and transparency with stakeholders. Second, you will have a sprint retrospective meeting with your stakeholders to discuss what went well during the sprint, what could have been better, whether the task load was too heavy or too light for each team member, and what was achieved during the sprint.
- Keep Empowering and Motivating your team
Agile projects depend on team members to communicate, cooperate, and problem solve. If your project team isn’t engaged and motivated, an Agile approach won’t be successful. After all, one of the key principles of Agile is to build projects around motivated individuals, give them the support required, and then trust them to get the job done.
What are some common challenges faced while implementing Agile?
- Lack of Wider Buy-in
To successfully embed agile ways of working, it is important to understand that it requires more than just the development team. This is why it is important to build a wider buy-in from the business in general. Many organizations struggle to adopt agile ways of working without wider buy-in from the business. This is why it is essential that agile is seen as a way to build a better business rather than just a way to develop software quicker.
- Resistance to Change
Whichever way you go about implementing agile, it is important that you are persistent and committed to the change. When you are trying to implement agile, you should be ready for resistance from people who feel they don’t need to change. This resistance can come from anyone within the organization. Regardless of the source, it is important to overcome the resistance. One way to do this is to have a clear understanding of your vision for the organization and tell people that the goal of the change is not just to be agile, but to create a better organization that is more successful. Cross-functional collaboration is the key, which brings us to our next point.
- Lack of Open Communication
In your agile team, communication is a key ingredient. If people don’t communicate, the team cannot function. In the agile manifesto, it says, “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” What this means is that your process is more important than your tools. What this means is that the team should be able to collaborate and communicate with each other. However, it is also important to have a team that is comfortable with and has experience with the tools that you are using. If you have a team with no experience, it can be a lot harder for them to function and communicate. In order to solve this, you need to have a seeding team of experienced agile practitioners who can train your newcomers.
- Attempting to scale Agile before the core culture is established
If you’re looking to make your company agile, but you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips that may help you. As you scale agile, it is important to focus on your company’s core culture. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to scale agile to a wider audience before the core culture is established. There is simply no point in attempting to do this. A lot of the difficulties people run into with agile come from a lack of clear culture. If you want to make sure that your company does not run into these difficulties, it is important to start with culture.
Research by Digital.ai reflects on the significant barriers faced by organizations during their Agile Transformation
Moving to an agile operating model is tough, especially for established companies. Getting to an agile operating model takes years of committed efforts at all levels of the organization. It’s not a one-off transformation project. It is a continuous endeavor. If you face any challenges or have any questions feel free to reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with a free consultation.