Collaboration, communication, and iteration: these agile methodologies have long been used by development teams to speed up their time-to-market, reduce risk, and rapidly respond to new trends and opportunities.
However, nowadays it’s not just those involved with software development that can benefit from an agile approach; it can be effectively deployed across many departments. Indeed, there are several ways to support a successful transition to agile ways of working.
Why and how to become Agile
The move to becoming an agile organisation brings change. It impacts on the traditional culture and introduces new ways of working on projects. But what does it take to successfully introduce that change?
Agile project management has come a long way since its emergence in the world of IT back in the 1990s. Today we see the process being adapted for different purposes. You can even choose to apply the Agile methodology as a framework across your entire organizational structure. Here at Assetti, we use it across the company from software development to customer engineering to marketing.
Principles of Agile and their meanings
- Individuals and interaction over processes and tools. In Agile, your employees’ interactions are encouraged as much as their skills. A good team who communicates and collaborates well may produce better results than a team of experts each operating in isolation.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation. Working software indicates the project’s progress better than documents presented to clients in meetings. In today’s business climate, demands change rapidly and that means the team needs to be able to adapt to the changing requirements.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. It is rather painstaking to provide all the requirements at the start of the project. It is better to directly involve the customer to provide more detailed requirements and update them in the course of the project.
- Responding to change over following a plan. In Agile, changes can be handled and applied easier, even at late stages of a project. As the process is split into cycles, new features can be added or the existing ones modified without the need to start the work done from scratch.
Benefits of an agile work environment
Agile project management focuses on delivering the maximum value against business priorities in the time and budget allowed, especially when the drive to deliver is greater than the risk. But what that means exactly for your Employees, for your Business and most of all, for your Customers?
For your employees:
Speaking for us here at Assetti, we see the following benefits:
The possibility to set priorities: This project breaks a requirement into smaller pieces (Sprints), which are then prioritised by the team in terms of importance.
Better Collaboration: The agile project promotes collaborative working, especially with our customer. But also for us as a team. The daily routine makes us feel more organized and structures in the work we are doing.
Learn along the way: The Agile way reflects, learns and adjusts at regular intervals to ensure that the customer is always satisfied and is provided with outcomes that result in benefits. And feedback on your own work is always good. That gives us an indication that we are doing things right.
Adopting changes easier: Agile methods integrate planning with execution, allowing an organisation to create a working mindset that helps a team respond effectively to changing requirements.
Self-organizing team: Everyone works together towards a common goal and everyone in the team are equally important. There are different skills in the team, but people are always teaching each other about their own speciality.
Everyone is willing to do anything for the team success (e.g if testing is needed, everyone can help on testing)
“Focusing on the company’s culture and attitude is as important
as concentrating on the agile framework.”
Ashkan, Software Developer at Assetti
For your businesses:
As an organisation, you need to make sure you provide the right tools for successful project management. At Assetti we use Trello and Gitlab for managing our processes, which are specifically designed to support agility.
These software help your business to understand the big picture by supporting:
- Agile reporting and metrics: Time tracking and projection, easy-to-understand progress reports for stakeholders, quality assurance, and percentage complete
- Communication: Communicate updates with local and distributed teams, and share task lists, feedback, and assignments
- Project assessment: Identify and remedy project obstacles, evaluate performance, and appraise financials
Just as the team needs feedback, your business also does. The scope in Agile is managed by responding to feedback. But how to solicit that precious feedback?
Feedback is always difficult to obtain. Everyone is busy, and no one has the time to volunteer feedback. We are, however, more interested in finding out the truth. So, the only reliable way to solicit valuable feedback is to fail. Failure is a great motivator. It makes all involved parties respond with urgency.
For your Customers:
Agile helps us to deliver our software faster and manage customers’ priorities better.
For a customer, it may be hard to understand if their project needs Agile. For us, one of the main benefits is that the customer has space for changes. The scope of the project may be rather vague at the beginning, but it can be modified on any stage. Changes can be implemented immediately which also affects the cost of a (software development) project.
That is our way of guaranteeing that the customer will get what they want and what was agreed on.
How does that work in real life?
When we start to work on a new project, we first gather the requirements. The customer shares their overall vision of the project and relevant details. When those are clear to all parties, we conduct the iterations. The software development process is split into several “iterations” (2-4 weeks long each).
The following actions take place within an iteration:
- Iterations planning. The scope of work to be taken under an iteration is planned by the developers and discussed with the customer.
- Features implementation. The developers implement the features shortlisted for an iteration.
- Product assessment. The customer assesses the product and initiates some changes to be implemented in the next iteration.
- Testing. Testing is carried out after each iteration to ensure that the customer gets working software with all the features requested.
- Product delivery. The final version of the product is delivered to the customer.
That is our way of introducing and applying how we work at Assetti.
If you just remember that Agile project management is about human-to-human communication, adapting to changing conditions, and producing working results, you’ll be on the right track.