Beginner’s Guide to Learning Agile Project Management

Beginner’s Guide to Learning Agile Project Management

Maybe you’ve heard the whispers in the hall about the famous agile project management structure. You might have even heard the word thrown around during your morning meetings. If you’ve noticed small changes in your workday aimed at making the workplace just a little more adaptable, you’ve probably encountered the basics of agile project management.

So, what exactly is this agile project management you hear so much about, and how do you learn it? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.

What is Agile Project Management?

If the combination of work flexibility and high-quality results sounds enticing to you, your workplace may want to consider learning agile project management. The agile methodology basics are meant to introduce your workplace to a world of adaptability and smoother processes to create content or products that wow your clients.

The agile approach includes breaking down the work process into multiple steps intended to reach bi-weekly team goals. The agile project management style fosters a higher level of collaboration between team members and reduces the number of mistakes made during the creation process.

In short, agile project management is a collaborative and iterative approach to creating and delivering value to stakeholders that relies on flexibility and adaptability to drive results.

Dive into the unique backstory of agile and why so many companies are favoring this methodology over traditional project management styles.

A Look Into Agile History

Let’s take a step back to the 1990s. Companies are beginning to notice a major lag in the development process, falling behind with the advancing technology of the time. The current creation process being widely used lacks a certain flexibility and autonomy that feels necessary to adapt to the changing times. Instead of a proactive approach to the design and development of software, companies are in a responsive state in an attempt to keep up.

The lag in the development process has major repercussions for companies. Customers are not happy with the results. The lack of flexibility and autonomy delay time to market — problems go months, if not years, unsolved, giving rise to new problems.

Fast forward to 2001. After years of re-evaluating the work process to create a more adaptable environment that still produced reliable results, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born. The agile project management structure arose in the workforce and took on the form we know now. We’ll take a closer look at the Manifesto in the next section.

Today, companies across industries have adopted the agile project management style. With this versatile system in place, companies can create consistently high-quality and dependable products that meet and even exceed industry expectations. By establishing a system that revolves around the four main core values, companies can streamline processes and improve team-wide collaboration.

The Agile Manifesto

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development is evergreen — so much so that a range of industries are able to adapt their workplace to fit this methodology. So what exactly are these values and principles we should be working toward as we shift to an agile mindset?

According to the Manifesto, the four core values are:

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

 

In the Manifesto, the creators highlight the idea that the bolded left side text above takes precedence over the right side text. Though both sides of each phrase are of high value, the agile project management style focuses greatly on the relationships between people emphasized by the bolded left side. When first implementing an agile project management style, keeping these four core values in mind will help in establishing the agile basics.

12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto

In addition to the four core values, there are 12 principles that make up the basics of agile project management. These 12 principles were established in the original Manifesto and find their way into the agile workforce daily. The agile principles are as follows:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout projects.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

 

While these values and principles can feel a bit overwhelming, many of them will come naturally as you focus on the agile project management basics in your workplace.

Who Can Use Agile?

Though the agile methodology got its start in the software business, its principles and core values can be applied across a variety of industries. Companies in fields from marketing and finance to radio stations like National Public Radio (NPR) have tackled the challenge of shifting to an agile mindset in the workplace to produce high-quality results. These industries and more have seen a change in the way their teams handle day-to-day problems using this more flexible and team-oriented method. The entire agile process, including its project management methodology, provides the wiggle room to accommodate the needs and necessary processes of your organization.

The Benefits of an Agile Environment

Though there are a plethora of benefits to learning the agile methodology, we’ve highlighted a few key ones you can take back to your team when discussing the agile project management style.

Improved Client Satisfaction

Happy clients = happy work life! In the agile methodology, customer collaboration takes on such a high priority that it has made its way right into the four core values. Working closely with your customers improves the level of communication and sets clearer expectations for your team. With a well-established funnel of collaboration, your team can produce quality deliverables and problem solve to increase customer satisfaction.

Increased Employee Morale

By learning agile project management, you’ll likely see employee morale boost. Having the flexibility to take on new projects in a collaborative format gives employees the freedom to work on deliverables that match their skills. This allows them to share ideas and opinions openly and problem solve together within their agile teams. Employees understand their value to the team and are more likely to collaborate freely with other team members efficiently and creatively.

More Flexibility = High Productivity

On top of working with projects that draw employee interest, the increased flexibility typically leads to a higher rate of productivity. Priorities can adjust as needed in this adaptable environment and feedback is available to improve processes and deliverables. Furthermore, learning and implementing agile project management offers a sense of predictability as it decreases the amount of work that an employee is facing by breaking deliverables into smaller time periods.

Start Your Journey with LurnAgile

Now that you’re equipped with the agile project management basics, it’s time to become agile! The first step after you’ve built your dream team of employees is to get certified. Luckily, LurnAgile offers various certification courses to prepare you and your team for this new method of work. We pride ourselves in our experienced team of agile coaches with 10 years or more of experience in the environment. With LurnAgile, your team will have the opportunity to receive fun-filled, interactive training to prepare you for the transition into an agile atmosphere. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and how you can bring the agile mindset to your workplace.

 

Top 8 Agile Team Metrics To Measure Success

Top 8 Agile Team Metrics To Measure Success

What are the top metrics you recommend for measuring an Agile Team?

To help you to find a great metric to measure your agile team, we asked marketing professionals and business leaders this question for their best advice. From burndown charts to story points, there are several different metrics that may help you to measure your agile team. 

Here are eight recommended metrics for measuring an agile team: 

  • Burndown Chart
  • Incremental Delivery of Value
  • Development and Sprint Velocity
  • Weighted Rubric
  • Work in Progress 
  • Team Velocity
  • Team Effectiveness
  • Story Points

Burndown Chart

Measuring a team is always tricky and what is measured will change over time depending on

team maturity. However, if I had to pick one metric, I would have to pick the burndown chart.

When done openly and honestly it can uncover several anti-patterns for the team and the

process. Are we planning too much work or too little? Is the work we planned in small enough

bites to avoid sharp drops? Is the team getting injects in during the sprint? Lastly, I like the

burndown because it can be scaled.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Incremental Delivery of Value

The guiding measure for an agile team is the incremental delivery of value. Teams can meet this goal through the accuracy of estimates. Many elements like reducing dependencies and multiple inputs can help improve accuracy of estimate. However, breaking down the work into smaller pieces makes it easier to estimate, easier to predict effort, and easier to identify risks. Although it may take some discipline, accurate estimates also help eliminate unnecessary work to deliver value each iteration and at an optimal pace.

Caroline Jones, Western Governors University

Development and Sprint Velocity

While it isn’t a precise measurement, it is still a strong indicator of issues. If your team is dealing with issues such as distractions due to other internal commitments, it will show in the velocity. It also works the same the other way around: If your team sees an issue resolved it will show a strong uptick in velocity. Sprint points are a very rough measurement, so look for ~20% week-over-week variations before you decide something has seriously changed.

Erik Fogg, ProdPerfect

Weighted Rubric

While most Agile teams assign (and bicker over) points for productivity, points are only part of your equation. Measuring quality is more important, and it can be more difficult. Our Agile content team uses a rubric to measure our writing quality against internal standards. The rubric includes scores for SEO, subject expertise, voice, and engagement. We grade a rubric for each writer for each of their 1:1 meetings with their managers, and we expect an average score of 90% across all rubrics. It took us a couple of weeks to write the rubric, but the writers have risen to the standards we set. 

Tamara Scott, TechnologyAdvice

Work in Progress 

In all my time working within an agile framework only one metric has proven to me to be an accurate predictor of team success: work in progress or WIP. The point of an agile team is to focus heavily on small pieces of work until they are done. As much of the team as is feasible should be focused on the same User Story until that story is accepted, then they shift to the next story. Too often teams will settle into a routine where each team member takes on a story by themselves, rather than swarming them. This makes the WIP high and when the WIP is high, so is the risk. When the entire team is working on multiple stories, it means that QA is going to be slammed at the end of the iteration and something will likely get missed.

Mark Varnas, Red9

Team Velocity

Agile development is built on the ability of the business to weigh the ROI of certain features. They need to be able to accurately know how long it will take to deliver a feature to the users in order to reap the rewards. Of all of the metrics in agile, the one that feeds this system most is the team velocity. Based on this metric the stakeholders can determine just how much development time (and development dollars) it will take to deliver the feature before we see any benefits. If the velocity is inaccurate, all decisions are based on bad data. And any decision based on bad data is a bad decision.

Phil Strazzulla, Select Software Reviews

Team Effectiveness

Whether a company is pre-launch or in a growing stage, the agile team should be working towards a single goal. How well they do so can be categorized as effectiveness. Pre-launch, the key metric is to get to market as soon as possible. Release velocity would be critical. But more than product features, it’s an alignment between research and development to ensure the right thing is being built. This is effectiveness. When you’re a product startup trying to get sales, getting users is critical. But this can’t all fall on sales. Product has to be involved as well to ideate ways to get users more engaged and help grow the network. This is effectiveness. An effective agile team is one where everyone on the team is working on things that get to a singular goal. That goal drives the product roadmap and release cycle. And like a sprint cadence, the team should have an analytics cadence to determine which sprints were the most effective and why.

Husam Machlovi, With Pulp

Story Points

We just had this conversation with our development team. What software development metric within an Agile team would best inform our shareholders about the state of our business? We arrived at Story Points as one metric to measure weekly in our team meetings. We felt that by having a weighted metric like Story Points, we could better capture elements like efficiency and productivity than if we paid attention to metrics like “lines of code written.” And, through Story Points, we could better monitor the progress of our team for the milestones that really matter.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published. 

6 Tips To Stay Agile While Completely Remote

6 Tips To Stay Agile While Completely Remote

How do you stay agile while completely remote? What is your number one tip?

To help you with staying agile while being completely remote, we asked business leaders and HR professionals this question for their best tips. From making face-to-face time to weekly  L10 meetings, there are several tips that may help you to stay agile while working remotely.

Here are six tips to stay agile while completely remote: 

  • Face-to-Face Time
  • Inspect Daily to Identify What is Working
  • Break Up Work into Discrete, Independent Chunks
  • Create “Rules For Your Tools”
  • Hone in Asynchronous Communication
  • Weekly L10 Meetings 

Face-to-Face Time

I can sum up how to stay agile in three words…communicate, communicate, communicate.

The entire Agile Manifesto centers around this, from individuals and interactions, to responding

to change it all requires communication. Put energy into ensuring the teams have ways to

communicate with each other in real-time with as much face-to-face time as possible. Do online

team building, weekly peer 1:1’s, an always-on chat room, anything to allow the communication

to as closely achieve colocation as possible. It is harder now because we do not get the benefit

of sitting next to each other, so we must find new ways to have water cooler conversations and

hear our teammates collaborate “at their desk”.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Inspect Daily to Identify What is Working

In addition to morning coffee, meditation, and your favorite sweatpants, reaching out often for feedback creates transparency with yourself and the team. Too often, teams working remote sit in their corner and work until they feel something is complete. Unless the team members share throughout the entire process, the lack of transparency could create misalignment with the team, the project, or both which may result in tech debt accumulation. The most efficient and effective method is to inspect daily and identify what is working and what isn’t. Encouraging continuous connection virtually through video conference keeps the lines of communication open, encourages dialog that leads to productive solutions, and facilitates the real-time removal of blockers. No technology can replace one-on-one communication.

Caroline Jones, Western Governors University

Break Up Work into Discrete, Independent Chunks

My best advice is to lean deeper into the agile mindset and move towards full continuous deployment. It will always be much, much harder to coordinate work into a normal sprint breakdown when you have remote work. We just need to embrace that, as it’s likely to last. Break your work up into discrete, independent chunks that can be deployed independently and quickly, and you’ll find that having removed the distraction of the office, the now-freed engineers will actually increase their velocity.

Erik Fogg, ProdPerfect

Create “Rules For Your Tools”

With so many remote tools ranging from Teamwork to Dropbox to Google Suite; identifying how you and your team will utilize them is hypercritical in today’s remote environment. Setting a specific naming structure will help manage and ensure items are consistently shared to eliminate confusion and/or redundancy. Regularly communicating those utilization and management tool structures will ensure your team and tools eliminate the inevitable digital frustration that can occur, if “rules for tools” aren’t established.

Mark Jamnik, Enjoy Life Daily

Hone in Asynchronous Communication

Get good at both short-form and long-form written communication. Use a messenger like Slack for your daily communication. Go asynchronous. This will help you determine whether you need to have time to sync up. See how the team does and decide. At that point, find the minimum necessary time you need to sync up. Scale up from there, as needed. For daily updates, use organized and to-the-point text, with bulleted and numbered lists. Make action items very clear. Think in an abbreviated essay format: Background, Main Content, Next steps. For strategic threads, use Google Docs. Also, think in an essay-like format. Others can collaborate and add their notes.

Husam Machlovi, With Pulp

Weekly L10 Meetings 

I’m not a developer. But, we recently implemented weekly “L10” meetings with our development team to ensure that we stay Agile while completely remote. In our meetings, we will bring up “People Headlines” to talk through accomplishments or time out of office. We will revisit our “To-Do’s.” But most of the meeting is talking through “Issues” that have bottlenecked throughout the day. By addressing these issues together as a team, we’re able to find solutions much more efficiently than if we relied on IM’s or email communication. Sometimes, you just need to get together as a team to ensure nothing stands in the way of accomplishing the work you need to do. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published. 

10 Agile Transformation Obstacles Organizations Face

10 Agile Transformation Obstacles Organizations Face

As organizations aim to do more with less and better serve customers, an Agile Transformation may be in order. 

What is the largest obstacle an organization faces when starting or going through an Agile Transformation?

To help you prepare for an Agile Transformation, we asked agile experts and business leaders about the challenges they’ve faced. 

Here are ten obstacles organizations face in an Agile Transformation. 

  • Complexity in culture
  • Unlearning traditional ways of thinking
  • People
  • Employee buy-in
  • Unraveling the non-differences
  • Mid-level management not being brought in
  • Shifting control from leaders to teams
  • Expanding from the team level to the organizational level
  • Misalignment of a belief system on all levels
  • Role Changes


Complexity in culture

The largest obstacle to an organization is culture. Culture drives behavior and decisions within

an organization and is paramount to successful transformation. Culture is also the last thing to change and is complex. It is complex in numerous ways, but it starts with what type of culture you want in your organization. Do you want a family atmosphere focused on doing things together like Google? Do you want an adhocracy where innovation is paramount, and employees take chances? Maybe your organization wants a complete culture that is results-driven and competitive? Lastly, do you need a process and procedures for everything? Most organizations need some type of hybrid culture which is another reason culture is the biggest obstacle.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Unlearning traditional ways of thinking

The biggest hurdle an organization faces in Agile transformation is the ‘Mindset or culture change.’ Organization leadership or executives are usually veterans of an industry or business line. They would have worked in that industry or business line for years or decades. However, the new type of problems in today’s digital era needs newer thinking and way of working. Thus these executives’ ability to unlearn their traditional ways of thinking is the biggest difficulty. 

Agile, as you may know, is a way of working where it is only successful if you follow some simple principles such as empowering the teams to take decisions instead of controlling, aligning to the outcomes rather than following the processes blindly, purpose-driven instead of financial-focused. Thus inside-out approach, from Culture -> Structure / Processes – Enablers/Tools, is the winning approach. Leadership’s understanding and drive can make-or-break the Agile transformation.

Saurabh Aphale, EY

People

In a word, people. Stakeholders must understand the transformation and how we are going to deliver differently, but better. Teams need to be trained on how to execute this new process and change their mindset. Leaders must also go through a shift in mindset. Anytime you attempt to change someone’s mindset, it’s a difficult journey.

Michael Thompson, LurnAgile

Employee buy-in

Simply put, it’s the buy-in from the employees that Agile will work. We have all heard the saying, ‘it’s easy to do Agile, but it’s hard to be Agile’ and it’s true. We can’t start to go through a transformation without the buy-in from the employees, where they are empowered to make decisions and have ownership of their products. Leaders are employees too, and they have to buy-in, as they navigate their employees through the ‘waters’ of Agile, in changing mindset and empowerment. Listen to your employees as you go through an Agile Transformation, they hold the keys to being Agile.

Dawn Wright, John Deere

Unraveling the non-differences

Organizations tend to believe that they’re very different and that their problems are unique. Therefore, they tend to think of complicated solutions. Although each organization is unique, the problems they face with a transformation are not that unique. Therefore instead of reinventing the wheel and coming up with complex solutions, they should look around them and see what has worked for other organizations and tailor it to fit their needs and organizational culture.

Lyvie Racine, Global Enterprise Agile Coach

Mid-level management not being brought in

The largest obstacle an organization faces when undertaking an agile transformation is mid-level management not being brought in. This is crucial, as their roles radically change in an agile environment. They must understand that their new criteria is for being successful and be advocates for the transformation.

Megan Hicks, MegAgility

Shifting control from leaders to teams

When agile adoption is not a strategic priority, organizations default to command and control leadership practices. Individuals and teams are not trusted to make decisions, clogging up the to-do list, stunting innovation, and impeding progress.

Marti Konstant, Workplace Futurist

Expanding from the team level to the organizational level

Organizations need to have strong executive leadership for agile transformations to be successful. Many organizations think Agile is simply a team level project management methodology. Agile is more about cultural change than it is about process change. Agile is a way of working. Without strong executive leadership to influence the change in culture, agile transformations will eventually lose traction and fail, or the transformation will forever remain at the team level and never expand to the organizational level.

Orlando Ramirez, Agile Coach

Misalignment of a belief system on all levels

The largest obstacle of an agile transformation is the misalignment of a belief system on all levels – up, down, and out. Leadership can communicate the mission, vision, and direction of the agile transformation but if the C-suite, V-suite, D-suite, and M-suite do not align the transformation will die on the vine. A common belief in lean-agile principles is critical because an agile transformation is a long and hard journey that changes the operational model, funding, and culture. Leaders of all levels have to be on board with and agree on the values and goals they want to achieve throughout the transformation. It’s on leadership to continually cultivate the belief system to all of the suites down to the teams.

Adrienne Rinaldi, PinnacleTek

Role changes

Employees have their roles change when an organization undergoes an agile transformation. Not all employees like or embrace change, especially when it impacts a daily routine. Organizations can prepare by knowing that there will be detractors, embracers, and employees who will be indifferent. It’s important that all employees understand why their role is changing, how it is changing, and that there is still an opportunity for them to add value to the organization. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published. 

What Is Business Agility? 12 Agile Experts Share Their Definition

What Is Business Agility? 12 Agile Experts Share Their Definition

You may have heard of the term “business agility” being used in a book, on a Zoom, or from a leader within your organization. 

What is Business Agility?

We asked twelve agile experts to share their definition of business agility. From strategy pivots to empowering employees, these diverse perspectives may help provide a solid definition of just what business agility really is. 

Here are twelve definitions of business agility. 

  • The unique ability to adapt to change
  • An organization’s culture of minimizing problems
  • Competitive advantage
  • Fluidity and flexibility
  • Strategy pivots
  • Attentiveness to trends and market changes
  • Removing sources of disruption and delay
  • Adapting to evolving customer demands
  • Detecting and responding to new data points
  • Everyone is involved in delivering solutions
  • Empowering employees to solve complex problems fast
  • Evolution to product-market fit

The unique ability to adapt to change

In essence, it is the emergent qualities, capacity, or unique ability of an organization to sense, respond, react, and adapt to change. This is done in such a way that they are able to do so and retain or enhance their competitive advantage without compromising quality, integrity, or losing momentum.

Tori Palmer, LurnAgile

An organization’s culture of minimizing problems

There is a myriad of definitions of what business agility is. My facile definition is: Business

agility is an organization’s culture of minimizing the impact of problems. Problems, in this case, can be internal or external and range from disruptors in the marketplace bringing in a new product, to application uptime and infrastructure. I boil it down to culture because in an agile culture the organization will make the necessary investments in tools, training, processes, hiring, etc., to ensure that the agile culture is achieved and sustained.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Competitive advantage

Business Agility means the business is set to deliver better quality products, faster than the competition. This is done by creating an agile ecosystem where people, products, and customers are aligned using techniques that drive transparency, communication, and collaboration.

Megan Hicks, MegAgility

Fluidity and flexibility

Business agility means fluidity and flexibility, with staff and teams able to move seamlessly between roles for the benefit of maximum customer satisfaction. What’s more, resources must be made available wherever they are most needed at any one time. Business agility can be a tricky proposition to get on board with. 

Mark Christensen, People & Partnerships

Strategy pivots

Business Agility represents the ability of a company to pivot its strategy. While the vision or goal needs to be static, how we get there needs to be flexible. It also represents how we as a company must be able to pivot our products to fit our customers’ needs

Michael Thompson, LurnAgile

Attentiveness to trends and market changes

Business agility is a team or organization that pays attention to trends and market changes, responds and adapts to these changes, and takes action to pursue opportunities rather than stagnate in the face of uncertainty. 

Marti Konstant, Workplace Futurist and Author of “Activate Your Agile Career”

Removing sources of disruption and delay

Agility just means flexibility, so “business agility” is flexibility in service to the shifting needs of the business. This sounds great but it is so challenging! Management is keyed into all the new opportunities and the fluctuating market so they want frequent changes. Meanwhile, the downstream developers need time to finish the current work. To maximize business agility, you need to look at all parts of the process. Analyzing and profiling incoming work requests helps to organize and sequence the work. Removing sources of disruption and delay will improve the flow of work, clearing the decks to take on new work sooner.

Janice Linden-Reed, Salesforce

Adapting to evolving customer demands

Business agility is the ability of an organization to adapt to changing customer demands as well as to changes within its industry, supply chain, and core competencies. Business agility is achieved by a) streamlining information flows throughout an organization; b) encouraging leadership at all levels of an organization, and c) embracing continuous improvement across all business processes.

Orlando Ramirez, Agile Coach

Detecting and responding to new data points

Business Agility is defined by an organization’s ability to detect and respond to new data points in a timely and positive manner. An organization with a high degree of business agility can detect an event such as a pandemic and reprioritize its efforts in enough time to minimize risk as well as create a competitive advantage. For example, an agile company in the entertainment business would understand the implications of the pandemic and immediately seek to acquire a digital asset that would allow them to transfer their events into virtual space. Business agility is accomplished by instrumenting your organization with high-fidelity feedback loops at the micro and macro levels. What do your customers want? What does the market want? And then creating a culture and systems to respond to information as soon as possible.

Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug

Everyone is involved in delivering solutions

The term agility is often referred to with software teams. Business agility is not just software related, it’s the organization as a whole. What does that mean? For an organization to develop business agility that means that everyone involved in delivering solutions— and I mean everyone — including business and technology leaders, development, IT operations, marketing, finance, legal, support, compliance, security, human resources, and even customers — must all use agile practices to allow their organization to respond rapidly to changes in the internal and external environment without losing momentum or vision. Key aspects essential to long-term business agility are adaptability, flexibility, and perseverance of relentless improvement.

Adrienne Rinaldi, PinnacleTek

Empowering employees to solve complex problems fast

Adapting. Pivot. Fast. Continuous. People. All words that come to mind when thinking about Business Agility. For me, business agility is adapting to technology, listening to the customers, and empowering our employees and leaders to make the decisions to meet the demands of the market. It’s also embracing a culture of innovation to solve complex problems, fast.

Dawn Wright, John Deere

Evolution to product-market fit

Finding a product-market fit is the key to building a good business. It’s also really hard to do, which is why a term like business agility even exists. Business agility is a continuous evolution towards finding product-market fit, which is a match between your value proposition and customer segments. No business nails product-market fit on their first go, which is why the most successful startups are ones who aren’t afraid of adopting an agile approach. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published. 

Is Scrum Always the Answer?

Is Scrum Always the Answer?

Since the inception of the Agile manifesto, Agile principles have revolutionized how companies manage their team, paving the way for a modern style of project management.  Teams no longer rely on tedious and time-consuming waterfall models and can deliver projects in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

As agile project management became popular, organizations adopted several agile methods, of which Scrum is the most used. While Scrum is useful for delivering projects incrementally, it isn’t ideal for all situations.

In this article, we will discuss some of the issues with scrum in varying situations and how they can be addressed with other alternatives.

What Is Scrum?

Scrum is a part of the agile methodology that aims to deliver business value in the least amount of time possible. Scrum achieves this by rapidly creating usable chunks of the product and making changes according to user feedback.

Since Agile was originally designed for software development, most agile methodologies are tailored for this field, and Scrum is no exception. Development teams create parts of software that customers can directly use and give their feedback on. This helps your team skip tons of straining documentation and move forward with the project faster.

Typically, a scrum team has three roles; the product owner, the scrum master, and the development team. On top of managing the team directly, the scrum master is responsible for being a bridge between the development team and the product owner.

The product owner here represents the interests of all stakeholders, where the development team is similar to other project teams. However, development teams in Scrum are more independent and self-organized, and they must share responsibilities with the Scrum Master.

People in all three roles have daily scrum meetings. In these meetings, they outline what they must achieve and set daily goals. Besides that, they all have to participate in meeting related to sprint review, sprint planning, and sprint retrospective based on the phase of the project going on.

Scrum is ideal for managing highly complex and unpredictable projects where requirements are more likely to change. Scrum gives you the space to deal with unexpected changes in project requirements and deliver features urgently needed.

Scrum emphasizes the importance of accountability, continuous and iterative progress, and teamwork, leading the product towards specific goals. You can learn more about the Scrum Methodology by reading the official Scrum Guide in detail.

Why Doesn’t Scrum Always Work?

In the Scrum methodology, everyone is dedicated to delivering value as rapidly as possible. Therefore, developments must strive to complete value-driven components deliverables in less than a month. In most cases, teams are required to deliver these deliverables inside two weeks.

While the management pushes teams to work on tight deadlines, they also expect the team to develop production-quality deliverables and have working software as they submit an increment. This is why teams must write code, design code structures, and test it. Moreover, they must also create presentations and demos to stakeholders, that too in a short period.

Because of this, many people consider Scrum’s approach to be too unrealistic or rigid. While Scrum is extremely useful to counter unpredictability in projects, for teams with no prior experience, it is also one-dimensional and difficult to implement.

Project managers must eventually grow out of the basic scrum framework and adopt lessons from other agile methodologies. Scrum only gives you and your team a reliable structure to begin with, but you must be adaptable to be successful in the long-run.

It doesn’t make sense to force-fit Scrum to every project you come across. Instead, you should analyze the requirements of every project separately and experiment with other methodologies, as well. Similar to the Design Patterns in the 1990s, Scrum can be used on its own or in combination with another methodology.

As you may have multiple teams in a project, you can use Scrum as a pattern for one team in the beginning. Once you have established a structure for the project, you can monitor the progress on the project and shift to a more suitable agile technique if Scrum isn’t working for your team. Incorporating other tools/patterns can help you develop a more robust and effective approach to management.

Exploring Other Options

You can use other methodologies in combination with Scrum too.

Effective Agile Practices

The high-paced Scrum methodology gives you little time to test products effectively, making software quality dubious. To ensure software quality, you can leverage agile techniques such as Unit Testing, Acceptance Test Driven Development (or BDD), Pair Programming, Continuous Integration, and Test Driven Development. These techniques prevent your code from degrading over time, so they are ideal for software projects.

Kanban

Kanban is a project methodology that leverages a linear approach to project delivery. It teaches teams to focus on continuous delivery but relieves them from the excess burden. That said, many managers criticize this technique for lacking a defined structure like scrum.

For this reason, many experts suggest using Scrum and Kanban in conjunction with each other. Managers can first adapt Scrum and develop a more optimized workflow.

Once your team is in tune with Scrum’s structure, you can leverage Kanban’s continuous delivery towards the end of the project. Alternatively, you can also use Scrum to develop your project in your desired way and later use Kanban or other agile methodologies for review. Doing so can help you ensure the quality of your final product.

Several companies choose new ways to manage their teams. They use different combinations for different teams. SysAdmin teams are put under Kanban workflows to relieve them from rigid time-boxed sprints, while teams responsible for developing urgent features can leverage Scrum. 

Conclusion

In agile project management, no one size fits all. Every situation has unique requirements and you may have to switch your approach from time to time. Regardless, one thing is clear that agile project managers must display exceptional leadership and strategic planning.

Being well-versed in Agile Methodologies prepares you to tackle difficult situations effectively and deal with challenges with greater skill.

At LurnAgile, we are determined to teach you the tenets of the Agile Methodology and help you master Agile Project Management. With our training, you will learn how to augment Agile to your brand of management and nail challenging projects with ease.

To learn more about what we have to offer, consider visiting our website, or contact us directly for a consultation