6 Tips on How to Adopt Agile
The Agile approach to project management is defined by cross-departmental collaboration, flexibility, evolutionary development, and incremental improvement. As a result, it offers a number of potential benefits, including the ability to adapt to changing requirements easily, act upon feedback earlier, and develop projects at a sustainable pace.
However, actually adopting an Agile approach often requires changes to company culture and relies upon individual team members buying in to the philosophy. Adoption can also be made more complicated by the need to get customers to adapt too.
In this post, we offer six tips for adopting Agile and successfully managing the change.
1. Invest in the right training
For Agile project development to be successful, team members and departments need to be able to work together effectively, respond to changing requirements seamlessly, and work incrementally. In many cases, this is going to require high-quality Agile project management training, in order to develop new skills and new ways of thinking.
Indeed, Agile project management training and DevOps courses can help your teams to learn from experts who are highly experienced in delivering Agile projects. This kind of training is one of several things you may need to deliver on if you are going to successfully change the culture within your organization.
2. Communicate with customers
Communicating your intentions to customers is vital because the Agile approach relies heavily upon customer involvement. This involvement actually provides them with a variety of benefits. However, these benefits may need to be explained to them so that they understand why you are changing approach and what they can expect from you.
“Just like software teams, customers are also resistant to change,” says Jake Bartlett, in an article written for TestLodge. “It’s important to build trust upfront. By engaging the customer the right way, you’ll build that trust and they will become more comfortable and excited about working with you in this capacity.”
3. Make realignment a priority
Many businesses and project teams are organized or aligned according to functions, job roles, or the specific tasks that they carry out. Yet, the Agile approach necessitates some degree of realignment, with teams being organized based around objectives or goals, rather than the things they do on a day-to-day basis.
This was one of the first steps Moonpig undertook when they adopted the Agile method, and the result was improvements to both the speed and quality of their projects. Organizing teams based on the outcomes you want them to achieve also helps to establish a greater sense of purpose and helps to improve collaborative efforts.
4. Embrace team autonomy
When adopting Agile, one area where some project managers struggle is in letting go of the temptation to micro-manage. However, for the approach to work, it is crucial that you embrace the concept of team autonomy. After all, Agile is a project development method that is centered on self-directed and self-organized teams.
“The development team is not told what it will do and when it will be done by,” says Alan S. Koch. “Rather, they are given broad direction about goals, and then they work with the customer to determine how to reach those goals. Managers will need to alter their management methods and adopt a more collaborative relationship.”
5. Do not finalize plans up front
It is important that your organization capitalizes on all of the advantages that Agile has to offer, and one of these is the removal of a need to finalize plans up front and stick rigidly to them. Instead, Agile provides project teams with greater freedom to experiment, plan on a more incremental basis, and revise strategy as they go.
Of course, it is imperative that teams are taught to keep the broader project objectives in mind at all times and know to avoid straying into territory that puts those goals in jeopardy. However, they should also have the freedom to alter some of the final details, if it is in the best interests of the project as a whole.
6. Understand the limitations
Finally, while Agile projects have numerous plus points, project managers must also have a firm understanding of their limitations too. When armed with this knowledge, it becomes easier to avoid common pitfalls and resist the temptation to adopt the Agile method in situations where it is not advisable to do so.
For example, if a project has very strict requirements, with little scope for adjustment or adaptation from the initial plans, Agile is unlikely to be the best approach. This means it may not be suitable for projects where customers are promised a certain outcome ahead of time and need the project to arrive in a completed state.
The final word
A large number of projects can benefit greatly from agility, which explains why the Agile method has emerged as such a popular approach. However, adopting Agile is not always straightforward. It is essential that businesses communicate with customers, overhaul company culture, and train their own team members.