The beginners guide to Agile Methodology
Let’s say you’re looking for a product design studio to collaborate with and you want to build an app that facilitates the booking of restaurant tables for example, and when you’re chatting with them they mention that they work in an ‘agile’ way. If you already know what that means, you’ll probably give them the thumbs up and say, “Let’s get this party started”. But, if you’ve no idea what they mean by that, or you’ve worked in huge corporates or government establishments and are used to working in a waterfall fashion, then this short post will bring you up to speed with all things ‘Agile’. We’ll discuss what the Agile methodology is all about; We’ll cover how you can become agile; most importantly – why you should become agile and the value Agile provides that other more traditional project management frameworks do not.
What does it mean to be ‘Agile’?
Agile is a dynamic and light-weight framework that helps software teams create and develop products quickly through self-organising and cross-functional teams. Some of these teams are called ‘Scrum teams’ as they work so closely together in a cross-functional and collaborative way, much like a rugby scrum – hence the term: Scrum. Agile advocates many techniques to ensure successful outcomes through iterative delivery and a continuous improvement approach.
How to become Agile
Agile practitioners believe that instead of using the traditional phases that waterfalls use (Analysis, Design, Coding and Testing), they do continuous activities instead. These activities are typically time-boxed events that include daily stand-ups, sprint planning, sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives. By doing these time-boxed activities continuously, quality improves because testing is incorporated into the activities from the beginning. Being in a cross-functional team allows testers and developers to work alongside each other. Enabling them to work together and not apart.
Why you should become Agile
Becoming Agile is a mindset that will change your work life for the better. Things like tracking and visibility of the project improve because as the team is building the project, there are opportunities to inspect, adapt and reflect on the project regularly. Having these time-boxed opportunities enables the team to respond to change quickly in an ‘Agile’ way. Risk is reduced when using the Agile framework and methodology because you have the opportunity to inspect, adapt and continuously improve — getting feedback early reduces risk to a manageable state. Customers do prefer Agile because they get the opportunity to provide feedback early, so the development team can take feedback on board and adapt accordingly.
Being Agile allows you to respond quickly to change!
Who should be Agile?
All customers working with software teams (like digital product studios) and vendors should seriously consider becoming Agile immediately for all the reasons previously mentioned. If you do not become Agile, there is certainty that your competitors have already, or seriously considering Agile.
How do you know they know what they're doing?
Customers that embrace Agile, become more engaged in the process. They are not passive stakeholder but active participants. They are part of all the Agile events; because you work with the development team to create the product vision and work on the backlog together. You attend the sprint review, where you will actively ask questions, inspect the product and help adapt it along the way.
Customers are empowered to become active product owners, the more seasoned and knowledgeable they become, the more valuable they are because you know the product and organisation well and can mandate decisions swiftly.
An Agile customer understands the complexity and unpredictability of software development. They know it is about exploring and discovering solutions with the dev team. They trust the development team to solve complex problems. Before the sprint starts the customer and the team can discuss desired outcome. These customers understand the Product Backlog doesn’t only consist of ‘new features’.
Development teams work on technical innovation/architecture, technical debt and have some time to give support. Agile customers understand the product backlog is ordered taking into account priority, risk, learning, business value, effort etc. Therefore the Sprint Backlog will be contain new features, innovation, refactoring and support. In the end this will result in a stable, reliable product and therefore a happy customer!
Keen to learn more about working with digital product studios and agile? Flick us your details in the big punchy pink form below, and every time we write more posts we’ll send it to your inbox. It’ll be safe there and you can read it any time. You’re also more then welcome to flick me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and come have a chat with me at The Space Bar at our office.