In today’s rapidly changing markets where whole industries are undergoing digital transformations, companies inevitably find themselves on the edge of a burning platform, with looking for a software development framework to land in that will enable them to keep afloat. While a Waterfall approach was traditionally seen as the default method of delivering a product, Agile, an approach that has been revolutionizing software-development for two decades, is helping businesses across every industry generate more value for their internal & external customers. Many companies today are abandoning their project culture and shifting to an Agile approach and there is no turning back.
In the war for delivering greater speed and value in the marketplace, Agile is winning, by leveraging its tangible business results, its customer focus, and its high performing teams.
What is Agile?
Agile is an iterative development framework that emphasizes individual empowerment, early deployment of working software, collaboration with customers, and adaptability to changing customer needs and market conditions.
Agile takes advantage of practices from multiple other frameworks, including Scrum, Kanban, and Lean Manufacturing, among others, that have been proven to produce tangible results for businesses. According to ScaledAgile, businesses that operate according to Agile principals show improved results in several key areas.
Employee engagement in Agile workplaces is improved, as employees are empowered to make decisions, suggest improvements, and define their own workload.
Additionally, Agile’s emphasis on constantly producing value for stakeholders and customers leads to products getting into the hands of consumers far faster than in traditional waterfall workflows. This contributes to a faster time-to-market delivery amongst Agile workplaces.
These accelerated delivery times are facilitated by the team structure of Agile, which emphasizes keeping them together for as long as possible, preventing decreased productivity resulting from constantly forming and re-forming teams over a product’s life cycle.
However, Agile does not only provide a boost to speed, but also quality. As teams constantly communicate with and demo their work to key stakeholders, they have an opportunity to get regular, constructive feedback, leading to higher quality products overall.
Agile has a customer-centric approach that creates a better product for both internal and external customers. Key to this are the roles of a product-owner and scrum master, who are responsible for working with and representing the customer daily to understand their needs and ensure that the work being done by their team is producing customer value.
The teams have frequent opportunities to show the value that they bring to the customer. Even early on in the development process, teams will perform regular demos for customers, showing off newly completed, fully functional features. This enables the teams to get feedback from their customers quickly and adapt the product to gain a competitive advantage over competitors who are still lamenting over scope changes.
High Performing Teams
The cornerstone of an Agile organization are its high-performing teams. Within Agile, teams are built to be cross-functional, meaning that they contain members with all skillsets needed to deliver a product or solution. These cross-functional teams stay together long-term and are empowered to define, build, test and deploy the work they are asked to complete. Without having to stop and wait for a specialized role or external approval, these teams can work continually without any disruptions to their flow.
Each of these cross-functional teams include two key roles product owners and scrum-masters. Product owners represent the customer and work to ensure that their needs are being met and that they have a clear and open line of communication with the team. Scrum masters focus on helping the team perform at their highest level by removing obstacles to their work, acting as a coach to their team members, and helping to plan each iteration.
These iterations are 1 or 2-week periods of work that are designed to help the team focus on completing small pieces of working systems quickly to avoid constant context switching between tasks. These short iterations are what make Agile teams work, as they yield high performance from engaged employees working at a sustainable cadence.
Agile is winning the war for many reasons, but its roots in Lean practices, its customer product focus, and its high performing teams have all but ensured that there is no turning back. Ready to make the switch? EIT can help. To see how we can help your organization complete your Agile transformation, visit us here.