Time, priorities, and customer-centred approach.
These are the underlying factors of why companies embrace agile development. In VersionOne’s State of Agile Survey 2014, out of 100 respondents cited these are the top three reasons why they use the method.
- 23% cited they want to accelerate the time to market it, while
- 16% cited it’s for managing changing priorities, and
- 15% to better align IT and business objectives
And because the major consensus among adopters is to complete the product – apps, websites, online platforms, and other types of projects – faster, the entire development team should learn and practice its core philosophy. There are three aspects: learn, iterate, and test.
Agile teams comprise of no more than 9 members, embracing a collaborative, flexible, and teachable mindset while delivering the project in chunks. Of course, problem-solving skills are stretched out, with the need to make decisions quickly. Sometimes loopholes are set-aside and then improved continually in the next stages.
Here are the four things you should know about this methodology:
- Mindset, teamwork, and culture are critical throughout the process
If team members are used to the conventional method, such as the waterfall, and suddenly you force them to use the agile method, there’s a higher probability that there will be a disastrous ending.
Most development teams fail because of the lack of strong background of its technical aspects, and the temptation to mix its principles with the conventional approach. The inability of the company to change the organizational culture hampers the teamwork, trust, and collaboration.
Takeaway thought: Break the silos within the organizational structure and create a culture of collaboration and trust in the team to nourish productivity.
- Fail fast, iterate, explore, and improve
Such principles are indubitably impossible to forge into a centralized organizational structure where the top management has the control. But this is how agile development thrives among members.
Allowing them to build projects in this way will give them a room for continuous improvement, especially if the priorities are changing every day or there’s an uncertainty of the final product.
They can develop a chunk of it, test it, develop it again, explore the fragments, and improve. Iteration is present throughout the cycle.
Takeaway thought: Companies that use the agile method, according to InfoQ collective opinion piece, “have definitely seen measurable improvements in time to market, product quality and customer satisfaction.”
- Ability to manage changing priorities and deploy agile PM tools
One of its benefits is the ability to manage the changing priorities throughout the development cycle. Since the team puts emphasis on the iterative, incremental approach, creative thinking and quick decisions are involved in getting things done.
Agile software and project management tools are indispensable, too, where cross-functional teams can track the progress and improve the project via bug trackers, automated build tool, wikis, unit test tools, that among others help speed up the project.
From the project initiation to analysis to developing content and code to the testing phase, other standard productivity tools are used to make it a successful one such as MS Excel, Microsoft Project, VersionOne, GreenHopper.
Takeaway thought: Kanban methodology with a twist of the agile approach such as Scrum (there’s a Scrum master or a project manager and scrum team or developers) can improve the workflow as priorities change, whether on a daily or weekly basis.
- Customer-centred and adds constant value while generating revenue
There’s a need to focus on customer value while the team develops the product and overlaps with the company’s operations of generating revenue even if it’s not yet in its final stage.
As the development continues, it allows the management or the client to lessen the risks and change priorities based on their customers’ response to the product, giving more room for improvement and focus on quality. One of the most commonly used approaches in the Agile Scrum is the Daily Stand.
There’s a quick daily meeting where the Scrum Master asks each member these three questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What are you going to do today?
- What are the obstacles that hamper the progress of your work?
Takeaway thought: Maximizing retrospectives to inspect and reflect on the present moment can serve as learning tools to help each one embrace the concept of iteration in each stage and continuous improvement.