The ONLY 3 Things That Matter in Agile

By Julius Weems, VP, Strategic Accounts View Comments

the_only_3_things_that_matter_in_agile_image.jpgFor the last eight years, Agile has been the buzz of every company in the IT industry. We can’t go a day without hearing Agile this, Agile development that. We have consulting companies created around Agile practices and businesses trying to ditch their traditional waterfall processes.

But I think it’s time we go back to basics. Agile is more than a buzz word. It’s a proven process that decreases the feedback loop and improves communication to produce quality software. And if we focus on those things, we create an organization that’s effective, efficient, and revenue-generating.

It doesn’t matter where Agile methodologies sit in your organization. If you aren’t doing these 3 things, you’re disrupting the cycle and most definitely not doing Agile:

 1. Decrease the Feedback Loop

One of the first steps to building your Agile process is to create a fast feedback loop. As a Product Owner or manager, you need to understand quickly if your team is on the right track so you can jump in and make changes as necessary. And I don’t mean a status meeting where everyone prepares a presentation and nice report in an attempt to give you an idea of what’s going on. I’m talking about a Scrum standup meeting, where you can get into the weeds and see what’s REALLY getting done.

This newfound visibility, with feedback every 1-4 weeks, is a game-changer when it comes to creating the quality solutions that grow a business.

2. Increase Communication 

Too many organizations fall victim to poor communication. They make big decisions but don’t bother to make sure employees understand how it impacts them day-to-day as an Agile product owner. I’ve worked with executives and project managers on large enterprise transformations who are terrified of what their role is going to be in an Agile organization. Where do they fit? Will they become Scrum Masters now? The same goes for developers. They’ve never developed and delivered any code in 2 weeks. Will it be functional?

As a result, pandemonium breaks out. People are terrified, the morale goes down, and they push back against Agile transformation. The communication suddenly becomes “Agile doesn’t work.” And some organizations may even cancel the initiative, opting instead to keep doing things the way they did before.

All of this could have been avoided by proper communication at every level. You need an Agile champion to prepare people for what they’re going to experience during the transition from waterfall. People need to understand the changes and the benefits in order to create a truly Agile environment where transparency and honesty around projects is inevitable.

3. Focus on Quality. Every. Single. Time.

Any product coming out of the Agile cycle should be of high quality – no matter if it’s a new tool for human resources employees, a marketing campaign, or a change management process. But you can’t get there without decreasing your feedback loop and increasing communications. These ideas go hand-in-hand in Agile development.

By requiring daily or weekly feedback, your team becomes aware of any defects faster and can quickly fix them to reduce time to market. If you miss the mark, it increases the cost to the bottom line and impacts an organization’s productivity moving forward.

Don’t get caught up in the buzz. By returning the focus to what really matters in an Agile environment – a fast feedback loop, communication, and managing quality – you not only capture the true culture of the methodology, but also create a successful organization.

Is your organization doing Agile the right way?


Posted in: Agile Development