The world is changing and technology is evolving at a relentless pace. What was top of the line last year is quickly becoming old fashioned. Because of this period of rapid change, it is increasingly important that we can adapt quickly too. The old school way of completing projects, where everything is decided before we even start, leaves the project at risk of being outdated before the development work even begins. As more organisations come to this realisation, the use of the Agile methodology is on the rise.
Agile is like ordering tapas until you are full, instead of ordering a 10 course meal. You don’t know how much food you will order, you simply keep ordering until you run out of time or money, or until you are satisfied.
Many people ask but ‘What is Agile?’ and if I wanted to give an answer that wasn’t the size of a small book, I would answer, Agile is a way of working that accepts that we can not know everything in advance and that the priorities for the things we do know may change. This is managed by using processes that promote learning and enable us to adapt quickly.
But moving to work in Agile isn’t always easy, as it requires buy-in from the top managers through to the development team and most of all it requires trust. Because we don’t predetermine the outcome before allocating a budget towards the project, getting buy-in and trust from all project stakeholders is the first step in creating a successful Agile Project.
If you are pitching Agile in your organisation then showcasing the benefits of the Agile methodology is essential. The key values can be split into 7 key principles:
1. Delighting Customers
A project will always rely on collaboration and creativity to succeed therefore the number one goal for every project should be delighting your customers. Whether that be the client who hired you to build the product or the customer of the product you are building. Once the goal becomes making money for the company, then people start thinking about making money for themselves, and collaboration and creativity tend to fail.
2. Self-Organising Teams
Micromanagement is so 1994. Self-organising teams are empowered teams. They work as a team to delegate work to accomplish the best result and are accountable to each other. Because they aren’t assigned work by a manager, they feel a greater sense of ownership over the work they are completing, often leading to a higher quality of work.
3. Client-Driven Iterations
If you think about building a house, a client would never say “I want a house” and then walk away until the end of the project, because the client’s input is needed almost daily. Did the client want 3 bedrooms, or 4? Carpet or wooden flooring? Walk-in wardrobes or stand alones? The attention needed to ensure the house is completed just the way they envisioned is constant and is a key driver for success. The same is for an Agile project. Instead of the client guessing what they want and the development team assuming the rest, the client drives each stage of development, ensuring everything is how they envisioned and required.
4. Delivering Value
A key benefit of working in Agile is that every piece of work that the team goes to complete is questioned, quite simply, as ‘is this valuable?’ It is too easy to get into a project and blindly complete work because one person at some point in time, thought it was needed, but through working in Agile, each piece of work is given a sanity check to ensure the time and budget restraints are used in the most effective manner. Because of these sanity check moments, Agile projects can change course quickly to ensure that what the team is working on is still relevant and of the most value for the project’s success.
5. Radical Transparency
Agile is first and foremost about values. Honesty, openness, trust, courage and a responsible attitude towards money. By building a team with these values, you begin to see radical transparency. No longer are impediments hidden in the hope they are fixed before anyone notices. Instead, everyone is alerted to the truthful status of the project at all times, helping management to make decisions on prioritisation, budgeting and resourcing from an educated place.
6. Continuous Self-improvements
In Agile, even a smoothly running team can be working better. The key to Agile is to continuously self evaluate and look at ways to make the team more successful. Professional development? Flexible working hours? Process changes? There is always something you can do to increase the soft and hard skills of your team which will, in turn, increase the quality and quantity of their output.
7. Interactive Communication
We live in a world where remote working is not only possible but is as good as working in the same office. We also live in a world where we are more regularly seeing a flat organisational structure, one where the manager, employee relationship exists but it does not impede honest conversations which challenge the status quo. Through these changes in our society, we are no longer limited to working with those in our immediate location and we are no longer limited to what ideas we can share based on the people in the room. We can now all collaborate, share ideas, brainstorm solutions, and work together, to create the very best solutions.
Are there any other keys principles of Agile that you would add to our list?
Is there anything about the Agile methodology that you need clarification about?
We'd love to hear from you if you have any questions :-)