In our previous post we discussed if Agile is right for your company.  In this post, we will talk about how to implement it for those companies where it is. By using Agile as a mindset, your firm can obtain business agility through self-assessment and organizational mindset. First, leaders in your organization need to assess whether the current structure and operation is organized in a way that allows your teams to create and respond to change and deal with uncertainty.

In order to implement changes, your organization has to operate with an Agile mindset. Everybody needs to embrace the Agile mindset in order to be truly “agile.” This is done through changing the organizational structure and operations embracing change by accepting uncertainty in the environment. 

Below are techniques to help with your business’ agility:

  • Develop a framework that combines Agile approaches.
  • Value constant improvement and experimentation.
  • Enable your organization to have autonomous cross-functional teams.
    • If your business works with teams overseas, set up smaller groups that work in similar time zones while having a technical mentor.
  • Adapt your client’s unique needs into your product.
  • Keep up with your clients’ rapid changes by tracking and improving your teams’ process.

 

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The Agile Manifesto1

The founders of Agile methodologies created a manifesto to present their beliefs in a more actionable form through a list of 12 guiding principles. The Agile Manifesto was written by a group of software developers to address issues they faced in traditional organizations.

What we can quickly take away are the four core values:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

The 12 Principles of Agile

There are 12 key principles that guide the agile project management.

  1. Customer satisfaction is always the highest priority and is achieved through rapid and continuous delivery.
  2. Changing environments are embraced at any stage of the process to provide the customer with a competitive advantage.
  3. A product or service is delivered with higher frequency.
  4. Stakeholders and developers collaborate closely on a daily basis.
  5. All stakeholders and team members remain motivated for optimal project outcomes, while teams are provided with all the necessary tools and support, and are trusted to accomplish project goals.
  6. Face-to-face meetings are deemed the most efficient and effective format for project success.
  7. A final working product is the ultimate measure of success.
  8. Sustainable development is accomplished through agile processes whereby development teams and stakeholders are able to maintain a constant and ongoing pace.
  9. Agility is enhanced through a continuous focus on technical excellence and proper design.
  10. Simplicity is an essential element.
  11. Self-organizing teams are most likely to develop the best architectures and designs and to meet requirements.
  12. Regular intervals are used by teams to improve efficiency through fine-tuning behaviors.

Aligning your Project with Agile’s Principles

When it comes to providing a unique product for your customer, it is best to have the customer’s feedback throughout the development cycle, and not just at major milestones. By having your customer involved, you reduce risk. Also, by managing the project’s scope, you keep it open-ended as possible where changes are welcome events and not problems to be avoided. Remaining flexible and responsive to required changes is one of the strengths of the Agile process.  You prefer adaptability and acknowledge change as a reality. Once you have a contract setup, its terms will require sticking to a budget. Your product or service may include many features, and it’s your responsibility to prioritize features by value. You should ensure that the most valuable features are implemented first. This helps mitigate your risk of developing an “unusable” product if funding is minimized for your project, thus maximizing your funding efficiency. 

Teamwork is dreamwork, and your organization should prefer smaller teams that emit high levels of synchronization and coordination. Your agile teams are cross-functional, combining a group of people who have different functional expertise who are all working toward a common goal. Your teams can include employees from all levels of your organization.

Popular Software Tools to help you transform into Agile Project Management:

JIRA
Asana
Active Collab
Binfire
Planbox
Agilean
Wrike
Trello

Source: https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira/agile

Key Agile Concepts2

User Stories: In consultation with the customer or product owner, the team divides up the work to be done into functional increments called “user stories.” Each user story is expected to yield a contribution to the value of the overall product. 

Daily Meeting: Each day at the same time, the team meets so as to bring everyone up to date on the information that is vital for coordination: each team members briefly describes any “completed” contributions and any obstacles that stand in their way.

Incremental Development: Nearly all Agile teams favor an incremental development strategy; in an Agile context, this means that each successive version of the product is usable, and each builds upon the previous version by adding user-visible functionality. 

Iterative Development: Agile projects are iterative insofar as they intentionally allow for “repeating” software development activities, and for potentially “revisiting” the same work products. 

Team: A “team” in the Agile sense is a small group of people, assigned to the same project or effort, nearly all of them on a full-time basis. A small minority of team members may be part-time contributors or may have competing responsibilities.

Milestone Retrospective: Once a project has been underway for some time, or at the end of the project, all of the team’s permanent members (not just the developers) invests from one to three days in a detailed analysis of the project’s significant events. 

Personas: When the project calls for it – for instance when user experience is a major factor in project outcomes – the team crafts detailed, synthetic biographies of fictitious users of the future product: these are called “personas.”

 

[1] https://www.agilealliance.org/agile101/the-agile-manifesto/

[2] https://www.agilealliance.org/agile101/


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. 

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