Anyone who has spent five-minutes talking to a software developer about their work is likely to have heard about Agile.  Agile is an approach to project management that allows teams to create and respond to change faster and more effectively.  It helps teams identify uncertainty and figure out how to adapt as they go along.  In the software industry, it has become the preferred method of managing projects at some of the best companies in the industry.  So, at the ‘Cane Angel Network, we decided to take a closer look at this method, and how it can help some of the start-ups that work with us.  

The Agile project management methodology uses short development cycles to prioritize continuous improvements in the development of a product or service. In this type of project management, requirements and solutions are able to evolve through the collaboration of cross-functional teams.

 Project requirements are delivered incrementally over the project’s life cycle.

No matter your organization’s size, Agile promotes people to work in small autonomous teams also known as Scrum Teams. A close group of people makes communication easier and facilitates testing of ideas without great losses. By using Sprint planning, teams can test, adjust, and improve a product after only a few iterations. Sprint planning showcases how much work the team is taking on and helps determine how to deliver chunks of work in frequent increments.


Source: Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

This quick feedback approach allows easier decision making when trying a new feature or pivot for a product or service. Innovation, by its nature, is a process of learning from failure.  As Jeff Bezos noted “Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure, but a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that don’t work.”  Agile helps companies find what doesn’t work sooner and adjust to improve the chances for success overall. Agile project management provides higher customer satisfaction, increased collaboration and ownership, improves performance visibility, reduces risks, and improves project predictability.

Is Agile Project Management Right for You?

Agile is a practical project management approach where feedback is crucial. If your scope and product requirements are uncertain, then Agile can help your organization work more efficiently to adapt to product requirements and customer needs. Your team will meet daily to review development progress and address any uncertainties. Your team will develop, test, and gather feedback in order to develop the product that includes the most valuable features to customers.

An Agile approach is often used by software teams for development projects, but it is applicable to any project that has multiple components with uncertain outcomes. You can use it to create a website, consumer product, or even marketing plans by enabling teams to quickly develop, test, and deliver parts of the overall system. Your team should show initiative and be able to manage themselves to a large extent; teammates hold each other accountable. There should be someone in place who acts as the “CEO of the product” to guide the development team on the priorities to deliver, called the Product Owner. There will also be a Scrum Master to help the team manage tasks and resolve any issue in execution of tasks. Last, your culture fosters collaboration and sees failure as a lesson to learn from, not a reason for punishment.

Agile is less suited for projects with more rigid planning requirements, such as building a data center.  When the sequence of activities must be completed in a certain order, or projects where there is a historical solid baseline, Agile does not work as well.

Now that you have an idea is the Agile approach is good for your company or project, look for our upcoming post on implementing Agile. 

This post was written by Tineke Klaassen and Jeffrey Camp. Ms. Klaassen is a member of the Cane Angel Network investment team and will receive her MBA in May 2021. Mr. Camp is the Managing Director of the Cane Angel Network.