As an employee, you like working in an organization that is flexible and adapts quickly to change. You can contribute more when the company is open to new ideas and willing to implement them quickly.
The agile way of working has gained popularity in recent years, as it helps organizations be more adaptive and responsive to change. In this blog post, we will take a deeper look at the agile way of working, its benefits, how project managers can implement it in their projects, and the associated challenges.
What is the Agile Way of Working?
The agile way of working emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability. It focuses on people, interactions, and customer collaboration rather than processes, tools, and contract negotiation.
Unlike traditional project management approaches, which are often more rigid and inflexible, the agile approach is designed to be more responsive to changes and better meet stakeholders’ needs.
An agile team culture allows employees and team members to work when, where, and how they want to. It provides organizations with maximum flexibility and minimum restrictions to deliver the best service and improve performance.
Agile working allows employees to control when, how, and where they work. It can be divided into four categories:
- Time: the hours you work
- Role: your position and responsibilities
- Location: the place where you work
- Source: people or teams you work with
Benefits of Agile Working
The agile way of working improves communication among employees, team members, and customers. It helps to break down the barriers between departments and to improve collaboration.
Agile project management integrates testing into the project execution phase, resulting in a higher-quality final product. Because Agile is an iterative process, self-organizing teams gradually improve as they learn and grow.
The incremental nature of the agile method means that projects are completed in shorter sprints, making them more manageable. You can roll out products quickly and make changes to be easily at any point during the process.
Teams work in smaller bursts and receive constant feedback from the product owner to help them improve their process. Agile’s ability to break the project into smaller, manageable sprints with plenty of flexibility is one of the primary reasons that more organizations choose to use it.
Compared to the traditional framework, Agile involves the customer more in decision-making. Customer involvement throughout different phases leads to increased retention rates.
Moreover, incorporating customer feedback at every stage provides value, builds trust, and creates a product that perfectly meets their needs.
The Agile framework provides more comprehensive tools to identify risks and develop mitigation plans. By doing so, you can avoid many roadblocks that would have been otherwise unseen.
While no project is ever guaranteed to be a success, those using an Agile methodology have a higher chance of success due to the continuous delivery approach. If one part of the project goes differently than planned, there is always a small element that can be saved and reused in the future.
12 Principles of Agile Way of Working
1. Customers satisfaction through early and continuous delivery
Meeting customer satisfaction is the priority, and early delivery guarantees that their needs will be met promptly. It also contributes to a faster return on investment.
2. Welcome change in requirements even late in the project
Since Agile teams work in an iterative process, they are used to responding quickly to changes. They understand that even a late change can have value for the customer.
3. Frequent delivery of value
With the large number of agile documentation required during the planning process, it is crucial to streamline the process so that more time can be spent working on projects.
4. Business people and developers must maintain daily collaboration throughout the project
The goal is to ensure that the people who create value are in sync with those who sell or plan it. This way, there will be an internal collaboration for more seamless process performance.
5. Create projects that revolve around driven individuals. Create a supportive environment for them and trust that they will get the job done.
Empowering motivated team members and reducing micromanagement will lead to faster project completion and better quality. Keeping all decision-making centralized in your company will make it harder for your team to stay engaged. It will cause individuals to lose their sense of belonging to the project.
6. Face-to-face communication is the most effective way to communicate.
In the “new normal,” the old face-to-face paradigm has shifted to a synchronous or direct communication style. By meeting in person, team members can build trust and resolve conflicts. Also, you cut down the time between asking a question and receiving an answer.
7. A working software primarily measures progress
Your project’s success is not based on the number of hours you’ve put in, how many bugs you fixed, or even how much code your team wrote. Success is defined by working software that meets customers’ needs.
8. Keep a sustainable pace
When teams find their rhythm, they can maintain a constant flow of deliverables without burning out. It is vital for both long-term projects and those with tight deadlines.
9. Continuous focus on technical excellence and good design
Teams need to create not only software that works but also a stable and high-quality product. Having operational excellence makes it easier to change and adapt as needed.
10. Simplicity is important
Refrain from complicating something if you can finish it with less. It is better to have a working product that is simple than something that is over-engineered. Customers spend on the solution to their problem, not on the time and effort you gave.
11. Self-organizing teams are more efficient and productive
Teams that can manage themselves are more successful because they can quickly adapt to changes. This type of team is also more engaged and invested in the project.
12. Reflect on what went well and what needs to be improved
After each sprint, it is vital to take a step back and look at what could be done better. Without this reflection, it is easy to make the same mistakes repeatedly. It is how teams learn and grow.
How Can Project Managers Implement Agile Working in Their Projects?
Understand your “why”
You should figure out why the system is ideal for developing projects and how it will directly benefit your team. Educate yourself and your team about the Agile manifesto, which explains the importance of communication, flexibility, collaboration, and accountability.
Determine milestones and success metrics
Project managers should focus on metrics. Also, it would be best if you made more decisions based on customer input and other objective evidence instead of subjective assumptions.
Get everyone on board
It means getting buy-in from everyone—including stakeholders, the development team, and customers who may from those who may be hesitant to change the way they work. Buy-in can be achieved by setting up agile working sprints or demos so people can see the benefits of agile firsthand.
A project manager should be clear about expectations by setting up regular meetings or alignments, so everyone is on the same page. It’s also important to encourage team members to communicate with each other. This way, they can share ideas and solve problems together.
As a project manager, you can encourage teamwork by setting up regular team-building activities. You can also create a collaborative environment by using project management tools.
Challenges of Agile Working and How to Solve Them
Resistance to change
People are creatures of habit and often don’t like feeling out of control. When you first introduce agile working, there will be a lot of people who are resistant to the change.
To overcome this challenge, educate people on why the change is necessary. Include employees from every sector and area of expertise in the early stages to get everyone invested in the project’s success.
There is a risk of things falling through the cracks if team members need to communicate appropriately. To solve this, set up regular meetings and check-ins. You should also create a system where team members can easily share information and ask questions.
Inefficient use of time
People see agile work as a way to work whenever they want. It isn’t the case. Agile working requires employees to be more efficient with their time.
To overcome this challenge, you need to set clear expectations and deadlines. You should also provide employees with the resources they need to succeed, such as a quiet workplace or access to the right software.
Inconsistent processes or methods
Adaptability and flexibility are part of agile team requirements. However, this can be difficult to achieve if team members use different methods or processes.
You should have a standardized process that everyone can follow. Provide team members with training and support, so they know how to use the procedure correctly.
Organizations need to be agile to survive in a dynamic and ever-changing world. Agile working can help organizations to be more adaptable and responsive to change.
As a project manager, you should know how to use agile and encourage your team to use them. You can do this by setting up regular meetings, creating a standardized process, and providing constant training and support.