The Benefits on an Agile Culture
Harboring and developing an agile culture can go a long way in impacting and ensuring your company’s long term success factor. In today’s competitive environment, it is imperative for any growing organisation to be lean and flexible. The term “Agile” has unfortunately lost its essence and meaning thanks to out of context overuse . Although agile methodology is primarily used for project management during a typical software development lifecycle, it can be effectively applied to cater to the management needs of any other section/department of the business such as HR Management for instance. In fact, it is recommended to use agile methodology in order to help you manage and complete your projects fast while aiding in employee engagement as well. Previously, most of the software projects used to follow the traditional Waterfall methodology.
The Waterfall methodology is a linear or sequential style of project management in which each stage of the projects needs to be accomplished before moving on to the next step. Owing to its sequential nature, once you complete a particular step or stage of the project, it does not facilitate you to revisit or go back to a previous step in case it needs any revision or tweaking. It requires you to start all over again from the scratch, which is not a great way to work in today’s market scenario where requirements are volatile. Owing to its stringent linear process, this methodology requires elaborate and extensive planning right at the beginning of the project.
The only advantage of following this methodology is that the expectations are set with the client right at the beginning and because it emphasizes on planning and documentation, little impact is seen if someone leaves the team in between.
However, one of the major disadvantages of the Waterfall methodology is that it does not take into consideration that not everything can be pre-planned and it is almost impossible either for you or your client to foresee or predict risks or requirements right at the onset of the project. It is very typical for requirements to constantly change during the lifecycle of the project.
In order to address these kinds of issues, agile methodology emerged as the answer. Agile methodology facilitates an iterative, experimental and incremental process throughout the entire lifecycle of a project. In context of software development project, the work is done either in fortnightly or monthly sprints, followed by an evaluation at the end of every sprint where priorities are evaluated. This provides an ample scope for bugs to be identified if any, derive customer feedback which can be incorporated before the next sprint kick starts. True to its name, agile methodology allows you to operate as an agile company by enabling you to move at a faster pace and iterating as the market requirement changes.
The Agile Principles
The agile manifesto evolved as a guide that outlined the principles of a typical software development lifecycle. Listed below are some of the core principles of agile.
- The basic premise of agile is to satisfy the customers by facilitating early and continuous delivery of software.
- Since agile is open to receiving a change in requirements even at a late stage in development, it thereby enables the client to meet the competitive advantage in the market which is an edge in itself.
- An agile company facilitates delivering working software at regular intervals ranging from a couple of weeks to a couple of months in a shorter time frame.
- It requires both the business folks and developers to work in tandem on a day to day basis throughout the lifecycle of a project.
- It focuses on building projects around a motivated team by giving them a favorable environment, timely support, and trusts them to deliver the job on time.
- Agile facilitates an efficient and effective means of open communication within the team via face-to-face communication which leaves no gap while conveying any vital information.
- Delivering software in working condition is one of the primary means for judging the progress of a project.
- The agile methodology facilitates sustainable development where the developer, sponsors, and the users are able to maintain a consistent pace.
- Agile pays a lot of attention to technical excellence and quality design consistently which enhances the agility.
- It also facilitates maximizing the amount of work that has not been done owing to its simplicity.
- Owing to well organized teams, an agile company ensures delivering the best of architectures with great design.
- It enables the team to function more effectively by having continuous internal discussions on how to improve and improvise, and fine tuning and adjusting themselves accordingly based on the changing requirements.
Agile is a Mindset
A recently conducted survey states that agile initiatives often fail owing to issues pertaining to culture and resistance to change. Agile methodology offers various tools such as daily stand-up meetings, retrospective etc at the end of every sprint. But you should understand that these are just tools to help you to adopt an agile approach, but the real change emerges from your own company’s culture. The concept of agile focuses on rapidly adapting to change without being scared of failures. So as a leader, it is imperative that you create the kind of environment where failure is accepted well. According to agile, it is expected that employees communicate at regular intervals because internal feedback is vital in improving the team.
Why an Agile Culture is Important?
Adopting an agile culture provides you with the following advantages:
- Following an agile culture gives you the edge of being a first-mover edge over your competitors. While they are occupied in planning, you are already out there in the market selling your product.
- The progress principle of an agile company motivates the team as agile culture facilitates speed and quick iterations which motivate the employees.
- Involving your customers at every stage of development while delivering new features, gives your customers the confidence in your company.
You can build an agile company by:
- Giving your team autonomy and control over how they function and deliver.
- Facilitating and encouraging transparent communication which is one of the key facets of an agile culture.
- Aligning the team in such a fashion that everyone is aware that they are working towards one goal as one team
- Removing fears and insecurities within the team, so that each one is aware of their strengths and weaknesses and adapts and works accordingly sans any fear.
Measuring employee engagement is by no means different than developing software. It needs to be done at regular intervals and iteratively, and leaders should display agility by acting timely on results derived from the surveys.