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How to drive agile adoption… with your team (part two)

Since the creation of the Agile Manifesto more than two decades ago, businesses across the globe have bought into the ethos of working agile.

For software development teams like ours, these methodologies allow us to be more productive when working on projects and reduce the time between product launches.

But generally speaking, the benefits of working agile can be felt by almost any business; it  empowers companies to accelerate workflows and be responsive to the ever-changing, rapidly growing demands in their given market.

In part one, we explored the best practices you should employ to help keep things on track and drive agile adoption among your client base.

Here, we’ll detail the internal processes you need to put in place to ensure buy-in from the most important people on a project – your team.

The Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto is a document that outlines the central values and principles of agile software development. Its aim was to solve the challenges of the more traditional methods, such as delays in delivery, problems prioritising, and being more flexible in response to challenges.

Agile would mean a more flexible, effective model for development teams to deliver projects, and was founded on following four key values:

  1. Individual 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

These four core values are supported by 12 principles, which range from prioritising customer satisfaction to face-to-face conversation being the most efficient method of communication.

The values and principles set out in the Agile Manifesto equips each business with a flexible framework to guide their project management processes and uphold agile best practices.

Get buy-in across the board

So – you’ve made the decision to start working agile. You’re ready and raring to go, but you’ve noticed some resistance from your team.

A reluctance to embrace change is likely to be the first barrier you’ll encounter when driving agile adoption among your team, and this should come as no surprise. Humans are hardwired to resist change; we interpret change as a threat.

In a work setting, this fear of the unknown manifests itself in not wanting to let go of our preferred ways of working.

But like any widespread change across an organisation, if you don’t obtain buy-in from everyone at every level, any initiative or change is doomed to fail before you’ve even started.

You need to communicate to your team how this new way of working will benefit them directly – but phrasing is everything.

If you want to change the behaviours of a team, you need to understand that people operate via pain-aversion more readily, than pleasure seeking.

So when talking about all the great up-sides to working agile, focus on the pain it will avoid and the challenges it will resolve.

When implemented correctly, agile can act as a catalyst for businesses to become more profitable. Increased profit isn’t only good for business owners and shareholders, but it has an impact on your whole team.

It means the business is in a stronger financial position to offer employees a pay rise, invest in their professional development, and hire additional personnel to help ease the workload.

Ask yourself: what pain points does your team have from their current processes? How could you promote the benefits of agile leaning into those problems?

Sprints

Now that your team is committed to working agile, you need to start prioritising.

First, eliminate low priority tasks and legacy projects.

Take a look at the current list of projects your team has on its plate. Naturally, some will be more important than others – which is which will be down to you to judge.

You might be pressed for time on a particular project, or a client that accounts for a large share of your revenue might need a quick turnaround.

Whatever the deciding factors may be, be clear on client priorities – then, you can begin to hone in on what’s needed and plan your first sprint.

But what exactly is a sprint?

It’s a predetermined period of time – usually a week or two – during which specific team members are assigned tasks to complete to support the delivery lifecycle.

By breaking the delivery lifecycle into bite-sized chunks, the workload is more manageable; no one will become overwhelmed with the task on their plate and everyone is aware of which steps need to be completed in order to progress the project.

Sprints help break a project down on a granular level and they provide teams with a checklist of tasks to tick off that will help achieve your ultimate goal: a product release.

Again, at each of these stages when first moving to an agile methodology, keep pointing out how this way of working solves challenges previously spotted in past deliveries – it will help to engrain that adoption into their behaviours.

Collaborate with customers

One of the primary principles of working agile is to improve customer satisfaction rates.

Ultimately, what your team designs and builds has to provide value to the end user. The product needs to fulfil their requirements and meet their expectations.

Traditionally, teams would work in a siloed fashion, often building something and then delivering it with little to no interaction with the customer at any point.

An agile team takes a completely different approach; they’re in near-constant contact with the customer, clarifying expectations, collaborating on problem solving, and exploring various options to move a project forward.

This emphasis on collaboration does two things.

Firstly, it alleviates any frustration your team will feel when being told their work has missed the mark. Secondly, it helps to mitigate the risk of time and money being wasted because what you’ve delivered isn’t what the customer envisioned.

By involving the customer from the get-go, your team can work more efficiently and deliver a higher quality product.

Reflect, evaluate, optimise

The beauty of agile is that nothing is set in stone.

Yes, you’ll have roadmaps and sprints organised to work towards milestones in the delivery lifecycle, but these are all subject to change. They should provide a rough timeline of what steps are needed to achieve a larger goal; they’re always a work in progress.

This is why it’s vitally important to regularly come together as a team, evaluate progress and continually optimise your approach.

Two ways of doing this are through daily standup meetings and sprints reviews.

Now, no one wants to be bogged down in unnecessary meetings, but a quick 15 minute standup meeting at the start of the day can be a real gamechanger.

It’s a chance to share updates and check-in on how everyone is doing before you begin work, which allows software developers the space they need to work effectively for the rest of the day.

Likewise, sprint reviews are an important part of working agile.

Under agile methodology, once a sprint has been completed, your work has only just begun. You need to hold a review at the end of each sprint to discuss what went well and what could have worked better, which will allow you to optimise your approach going forward.

By regularly reassessing your performance, you can implement better processes that help you and your team get to your desired results faster.

Are you searching for ways to drive agile adoption within your team?

 

At 6B, we’re firm believers in the power of working agile. It helps us reduce risk, makes us more responsive to change, and improves communication within our team and with our clients.

 

Through our strategic advisory and consultation services, we can help break the resistance among your team and help your business realise the real benefits of agile working.

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