One of the most popular iterative methodologies of development, agile involves small, autonomous teams that work towards quick, quality-centric development. Different methodologies under agile have gained popularity for the specific purposes they serve. For example, while Kanban focuses on minimizing lead time, lean development is focused on eliminating waste. Scrum, which is one of the most popular variants of agile works with flexible teamwork for specific problems.
Typically, organizations start with agile for smaller teams and they gradually expand the team or get different teams to adopt agile. In either case, teams usually end-up going out of their comfort zone in order to embrace agile and this journey is rarely hurdle-free. From overestimating the potential of new agile teams to undermining the role that work culture plays, managers tend to find it hard to get agile right. Other factors like insufficient data to draw from or lack of training can also play a role in the failure of new agile teams.
So here are few experience backed lessons to get you started if you are looking to transition to agile or you are looking at scaling an agile team:
Choose The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Approach
Popularised by start-up consultant Eric Ries, MVP is a methodology wherein a new product design is built with just enough features for early adopters to evaluate. Once feedback is received, an advanced version with all the required features is released. For teams that are new to agile and have minimal history to draw from, this is both a low-risk approach and also upholds agile’s principle of spontaneous feedback and comprehensive involvement of all stakeholders.
Have A Unified Vision of The Product
Given how members of an agile team often have different areas of expertise, it is easy to get carried away and miss out on your real list of priorities. Besides, development teams are often plagued by changing product roadmaps which kills both a team’s motivation as well as its productivity. On the other hand, a unified roadmap will keep priorities right and lets you measure success on even terms. This directly results in a collaborative atmosphere and prevents miscommunication.
Build A Transparent Work Culture
To quote the agile manifesto, ‘individuals and interactions over processes and tools’. In the context of agile, transparency is not just something you aspire for, but instead is an integral element that decides whether or not your agile team is functioning right. Transparency, horizontal team roles, autonomy, barrier-free communication and a collaborative spirit are critical to being able to break complicated tasks into smaller chunks and develop them into a wholesome product.
Adopt Systematic Training Methods
As obvious as it sounds, a new team requires dedicated onboarding and training in order to embrace agile seamlessly. This includes knowledge of theoretical concepts as well as technical ones that help measure capacity for the team, specialize in dedicated agile variants and lets you build a sustainable, long-term agile work culture for the company. It is essential to remember that while agile for smaller teams can work on its own with internal training programs, as you look at expansion, it calls for comprehensive, formalized training.
Look At The Bigger Picture
In the age of the consumer and a client-centric development methodology, agile is all about delivering good quality and coming up with creative, sustainable, flexible solutions to the given requirements. It gives room for feedback, focuses on bug-free development and in order to achieve such a product, it is of core importance that all the members working on the project are aware of the requirements. Prioritizing the features of the finished product is the most important aspect of this approach. The whole is more important than the sum of individual parts in agile. It helps if teams adopt frameworks like Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS).
When you choose agile, remember that it is a long-term commitment and choosing to adopt it selectively instead of comprehensively can be counterproductive. One of the biggest challenges of incorporating agile methodology is for the employees to adapt to a new working methodology. This requires immense commitment to the project and business goals. Various portals and tools for managing resources available can help transition to agile smoothly.
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