The Agile methodology was created for developers to better cater to the type of work they performed. However, what was once a project management process for software development has started to spread to other types of work. Organizations are realizing the benefits of working Agile are not strictly for product development. This has led many companies to shift to using Agile across other teams as well, but the process of shifting to Agile is not always easy or successful. Here are six tips to ensure your shift to Agile is a success.
1. Create a Customer-First Mindset
The very first principle of the Agile Manifesto states: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” This customer-first mindset functions very differently from the traditional profit-first mindset. In the Agile methodology, the focus is on making the customer happy. If you do this, profits will follow, but the profits are not the goal. This means that for organizations adopting Agile, they will not only be working in a different way but will be working toward completely different goals. A shift to Agile will require a shift in the way your employees think about their approach to projects. The Agile method will not work without a customer-first mindset, so make sure you invest the time to create a new business environment for your employees to put customers first.
2. Invest in People
Employees are often called an organization’s greatest asset, and this holds true when you are making a shift to Agile. The success or failure of your shift to Agile will rise and fall with your employees. They can champion your cause and take it across the finish line or leave it dead in the water. Because of this, you will need to invest in people to make your shift successful. You can do this in a number of ways, but you should start with providing them training. While you may have employees familiar with the Agile methodology in your organization, most probably don’t have any experience with Agile. They will need guidance on the new procedures and methods associated with working Agile. When employees feel comfortable with the methodology, they will have the confidence to use it and use it well.
3. Build and Give Trust
Many people who switch to working Agile are shocked to experience the autonomy they have over their work. In traditional top-down management, individuals or even team leaders have very little decision-making authority. However, Agile empowers teams to decide exactly how they want to go about completing projects and what to do to overcome obstacles. This means organizations must relinquish some control to its employees. For many, this is extremely difficult to do, but Agile won’t work any other way. When teams have decision-making authority, it empowers them to produce the best work while removing roadblocks that can slow down their projects.
4. Scale, Scale, Scale
You may be eager to see your whole organization working Agile, but the adoption of any new methodology must be done gradually. You will need to start small and slowly scale throughout your organization. You can start with just a single project or even a team or department. Let everyone involved work through the growing pains of the initial adoption of Agile. You can then learn from their experience when scaling Agile to other areas of the business. You should plan for many bumps along the way and anticipate that spreading Agile across an organization will take months or longer to complete. To help scale throughout your organization, you can assign the role of facilitator to one or more people. They will serve as the point of contact for any issues and support teams through the change.
5. Promote Collaboration
Collaboration is a key component of the Agile methodology. This can be seen as both a benefit and a potential issue. For individuals used to working independently, the newfound collaboration can be jarring. Allow time for people to learn how to best work with others. Of course, even if people are good at working together, you might need to invest in the right technology for easy collaboration. If you have multiple offices or remote employees, they will need to be able to connect with other employees across cities and possibly even time zones. Agile teams will need to meet regularly (depending on your team, they may meet daily) so the capability to have virtual meetings and share documents will be vital. Make sure you have these capabilities in place so your teams can succeed.
6. Bridge the Gap Between Management and Agile Teams
One of the fastest ways a shift to Agile fails is the misunderstanding between upper management and Agile teams. Management operates with projects and hard deadlines, but Agile methodology focuses on prioritized topics. When management can’t understand how Agile teams work, a shift to Agile is sure to fail. The gap between upper management and Agile teams isn’t actually as wide as it seems. Organizations can easily bridge the gap with training and understanding. In our latest white paper which you can download to the right, we outline what organizations need to know to get management and Agile teams in sync and successfully working together.
Download our Agile Management White Paper
Agile Project Portfolio Management
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