Guide to Building a Sustainable Agile Culture in Your Company

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The Agile process is one that allows software development teams to provide near immediate responses to feedback received on the products they’re developing. Agile also provides opportunities to assess a project’s progress throughout the planned timeline, which helps negate any issues that might arise. 

When it comes to Agile, software development teams are empowered to make decisions without constant supervision and the number of team meetings that need to be held can be cut way back, usually to one at the start of a project and one at or near the end, depending on how things are progressing. 

There are a number of benefits to the Agile methodology, including:

Stakeholder Engagement and Satisfaction
This benefit provides opportunities for team members and stakeholders to engage with one another throughout the software development process; this collaboration is key to successful product creation.
Transparency
Throughout the process, clients are kept informed of development progress, either through meetings usually called sprints or through other methods. With the Agile methodology, weekly, or even daily meetings, are a thing of the past, instead using sprints to keep clients and stakeholders informed.
Early and Predictable Delivery
With the Agile methodology, projects are completed on timelines of one to four works, depending on the complexity of the project. Because beta testing is done during the development process, software can be released to stakeholders and/or the public much sooner than with older methodologies.
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These are just some of the benefits of the Agile methodology. Many more are discussed here, both in terms of clients and stakeholders and in terms of benefits to the business itself, from profitability to customer expectations and much more.

Agile By The Numbers

When it comes to Agile culture, the numbers are there to support switching to this business methodology within software development companies. According to the Project Management Institute, around 71% of organizations surveyed report using Agile methodologies on some level. When it comes to project specific tools, Microsoft Project is among the most popular for project management, while Atlassian Jira is among the most popular Agile specific tools. The idea behind project management is to make the process more convenient by using visual tools that are capable of suppressing unnecessary meetings. The Agile methodology also facilitates the elimination of process bottlenecks by streamlining tasks. 

When it comes to salaries for Agile project managers, the average in the United States is nearly $85,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a female Agile software developer is around $94,000; for a man in the same position, that salary jumps to $101,000. Despite female advancement in tech, there are still major disparities between what men and women are earning based on their skill sets, education, and other capabilities. Mountain Goat Software has an excellent article outlining what an Agile project manager does

When it comes to failed Agile projects, a study from Version One found that 63% of people blamed a clash between their business’ culture and Agile’s business philosophy to be the cause of those failures. These failures aren’t the fault of any one person and nobody should be blamed if using the Agile methodology doesn’t work for your business. It’s simply one method that a business can try in an effort to streamline their processes. Try the Agile methodology on a small project before using it on something more expansive. If it works well on a small project, it will be easy to translate the process to a more expansive project. 

matter what you think of the Agile methodology, the numbers don’t lie and the practice is here to stay for a long while. Agile was born February 12, 2001 at Utah-EEUU, when CEOs from top software companies around the country came together and created the Agile manifesto.  

When it comes to choosing Agile, it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. It isn’t right for every business or for every management style. It is going to play a major role in the current digital transformation and business owners should take a look at how it might transform their business.

The Role of Agile in Digital Transformation

Why Choose Agile?

If an organization wants to survive it has to constantly evolve and transform. Choosing the Agile methodology can help make some of those transitions smoother. There are three reasons why this is the case. For a company not using the Agile methodology, projects are often being developed in a very uncertain environment. 

A long-term detailed planning methodology isn’t usually effective because there are many constantly changing variables, which may make long-term planning useless. With the Agile methodology, projects are developed on a timeline wherein team members are given tasks to complete. Everyone is working simultaneously to complete a software development project, for example, instead of doing one aspect of a project at a time. There are three reasons to choose the Agile methodology, including accelerating software delivery, enhancing the ability to manage changing priorities, and increasing productivity.

Organizational Transparency

Agile is a holistic process that requires organizational transparency. When adopting the Agile methodology, it’s important to take a holistic approach to doing so. The whole company needs to be transparent about the changes that need to be made. This means making broad, sweeping changes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not every company is designed for implementing the Agile methodology across the board. Implementing Agile company-wide works well for start-ups, but may not work as well for companies that have been around since before Agile became popularized. 

Stakeholder Satisfaction

When it comes to adopting the Agile methodology, stakeholder satisfaction is of utmost importance. In the case of a business, stakeholders are defined as users, customers or anyone who has an interest in the development of the software or product. They are not just the higher-ups in the company or people who might sit on the board of directors. When it comes to the Agile methodology, stakeholders at all levels have a say in what happens and are “constantly solicited for advice.” The goal is to make users feel engaged and useful; like their opinion truly matters, because it does. 

Employee Satisfaction

Adopting the Agile methodology often leads to greater employee satisfaction. This is because employees play a huge role in software development and are engaged throughout the process. Like the other stakeholders, they have a role and a say in what happens with the software development. Because they have this stake in the project, they are more likely to be committed and have a stronger connection to the project. 

Conduct An Audit

Before implementing the Agile methodology, a business will want to conduct an assessment to see exactly where the enterprise is in the current moment. Doing this will allow managers and other higher-ups to figure out exactly what processes and practices are already in place, and what processes and practices need to be implemented. Employees will be able to identify blockers and pain points. The end goal is to reveal if team members already know and understand the Agile methodology and its relevance to the specific roles, tasks, and responsibilities.

One of the most used Agile methodologies is SCRUM. This is an agile framework for managing knowledge work, with an emphasis on software development. SCRUM works best with teams of three to nine members who break their work into actions that can be completed within timeboxed iterations, called “sprints”, no longer than one month and most commonly two weeks, then track progress and re-plan in 15-minute time-boxed stand-up meetings, called daily scrums.

There are three main things we can achieve using this methodology: satisfying customers, reduction of product costs and services, and a happier and more productive team.  

According to Agile In A Nutshell, Agile works much the same way you and I do when we’re faced with too much to do and not enough hours in the day. Begin by making a list of what features the end user wants to see in their software; this becomes your project to-do list that you’ll follow from beginning to end. Then, create a timeline to figure out how long you think each task will take, measured in days. From here you can work backward from your deadline to structure your work schedule. Finally, create priorities and begin developing the software. Of course, you’ll be updating the plan as you go and adjusting if there are bumps along the way. If there are bumps in the road, you generally have two options: to lessen the scope of the project or ask for a longer timeline and more money from the client. 

Define your approach

The first step in implementing the Agile methodology is to define your approach. Doing this is important because there can be hurdles to overcome when adopting the approach. First, it’s important to understand why you want to adopt this methodology. Do you currently have an unclear understanding of the goals for your business? If so, Agile can help you better define and execute those goals so you can be more successful. If you have rushed testing cycles during the software development process, Agile can help eliminate those by providing more opportunities for testing throughout the process.

Training plan

The second step in implementing the Agile methodology is to have a training plan. Odds are good that your company’s adoption of the Agile methodology will be the first time your employees have experienced it. That’s okay, though, because there are quite a few resources available to assist you with training them. One tip to keep in mind is that it’s probably not a good idea to start with the Agile methodology while your teams are in the midst of developing software for a client. Wait until there’s a lull in projects to begin implementing; this way you’ll be better prepared for the next project that comes along. 

Because these programs and methods are unfamiliar, you don’t want to just throw your employees into the deep end. That’s a recipe for disaster right from the beginning. Instead, invest in a training program or attend a conference in order to equip them with necessary tools and equipment to be successful at using the Agile methodology.

With the Agile methodology, you want to trail the approach. Agile can’t be implemented overnight. It’s going to take time and there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve as you and your team establish new best practices. Take the transition one step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. When it comes to the Agile methodology, you want to make sure you’re using the correct method for the project because using the wrong one can lead to errors and leave a team with an unfinished project.

Test with a small project

If you’re going to implement the Agile methodology, do a test run with a small project. Developing software for a major client is not the time to test a new method of doing business. There are a lot of myths about the Agile methodology that might prevent a company from feeling comfortable in attempting it, but it’s important to look past those myths. The Agile methodology is a very streamlined and organized way of doing business. 

When it comes to building a sustainable Agile methodology into your company, it’s important to do the homework to see if the method is a good fit for your company. You want to make sure that you’ve got all the necessary frameworks in place so that you can have a successful implementation. Some questions to ask before implementing Agile include: are you willing to start a project without knowing where you’ll end up?; how risk-averse are you?; how flexible is your team?; how strict is your company hierarchy?; and how do you measure progress and success?

By asking these questions you’ll be able to start down the right path toward successful adoption of Agile methodology. For other Agile methodology resources, check out: 6 Reasons Why Businesses Should Adopt An Agile FrameworkAgile In A NutshellHow To Build A Sustainable Agile Culture; and Agile Project Management: A Comprehensive Guide

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