Agile methodologies are especially effective for companies that want to shorten the delivery cycle while closely managing project costs.
Here are a few key benefits realized by businesses that implement cross-departmental agile teams.
1. Build Mature Agile Teams. These groups are comprised of workers who are focused on being agile in practice, with an emphasis on the team mindset and encouraging widespread organizational adoption of the agile approach. They also rely on self-direction to make decisions, taking some of the burden of decision making away from senior management. Ideally, the mature agile teams make decisions when all of the data is present, so they can make the most informed and context-driven choices about how to proceed.
Mature agile teams also invest in people and skills in order to dynamically adapt to the next stages of new technology and platforms. While these teams employ self-direction, they also are more willing to ask for help before the timing is critical. And agile teams will adjust depending on the project requirements, with the flexibility to create smaller cross-department teams for some projects, and large teams for resource-intensive projects.
2. Implement Monitoring and Improvement.
Within the agile framework, there are more opportunities to monitor statuses, and therefore more chances to exact some changes and control the end outcomes. With traditional monitoring, there’s too much focus on the effort required for certain tasks. Agile monitoring tracks project progress incrementally, for example by looking at “velocity” which in this context is the volume of work finished in a specified timeframe by a certain team group.
Another useful monitoring metric that drives improvement is the “sprint burn-down chart” which shows progress on a graphical scale, where work backlogs are charted and available on the worker’s own dashboards.
3. Create Efficient Decision-Making.
The agile team can drive efficiency for multiple reasons. Once you have a quality cross-department team in place, the impacts of adding or reducing staff to the team are lessened, because the current team knows how to quickly bring the new staff up to speed on the project. Managers building these teams should consider how allocation of people resources impacts how teams operate and scale. For optimal agility, you want a team with good working dynamics that will build velocity over time, even when completing challenging projects.
In the broader sense, agility is more important than efficiency because companies are seeing it’s about not just doing things “right” but focusing on the “right things” through data analytics and other means. The agile approach does improve efficiency, but it also does much more because it encourages adaptability, not just process gains.
4. Customize. When it comes to the architecture approach for the agile business, remember it isn’t a “one size fits all” situation. The exact architecture depends on the company size, IT team you have in place, and the specific industry.
Your goals and your work environment are unique, so you need an agile framework that is custom built to your own complex system. This means experimentation with the agile process is essential, so you can implement, observe, and adjust. You then customize processes based on what you’ve learned, and be willing to cast away certain parts that aren’t working – but only after you’ve learned lessons.
It’s important to remember agility means flexibility, so be careful to not implement too many rules for team members and your overall agile structure.
5. Start Small. Agile software and project development initiatives should start small, as they’re “trial and error” – based ways of getting things done. You want an iterative process, so pick some more easily achievable project goals and then assess how the entire organization responds to agile methods. Once the project is done, do an honest review and then expand to other areas.
Building an agile team and business is an important, but sometimes daunting process. Talk to a consultant at TechBlocks about developing the right agile teams and methodologies. Visit www.tblocks.com to learn more.