Our team at Whiteboards has just put together an insightful guide for anyone interested in Agile and willing to try it out with their team. It is not enough to just know Agile principles and values but to actually understand the “right” and “wrong” of Agile. With our help and guidance, you will now understand what it takes to practice this methodology.
How to recognize you’re doing Agile the proper way? How to identify if you follow the “fake Agile” path by any chance? Let us elaborate on these topics in our newest article.
What’s inside our Agile guide
To better understand the differences between Agile and other traditional project management methods, we’ve prepared a complete guide for everyone interested in that subject.
In this guide, you’ll find fifteen pages filled with insights and tips on the Agile Manifesto. We start there with a brief reminder of the terminology and basic information on how you can transition from the current workflow to a more adaptive one, Agile.
The guide covers in detail the difference between “doing Agile” and “being Agile” and why it is so important to know if your team (or company) practices the “fake Agile” by any chance. Unfortunately, the most common and costly mistakes happen all the time, but we also included a chapter on what not to do when moving to Agile.
We’re also giving a helping hand to those who want to incorporate this innovative methodology into their own businesses — we’ve prepared a detailed cheat sheet for those willing to “go Agile”. Follow the easy 8-step instruction to spot any differences between how you’re supposed to do Agile and what you’re doing now.
Not sure if the download guide is for you? No worries! We’re happy to mention that we’ve recorded a video with an explanation of why organizations go Agile nowadays and to whom this guide is precisely dedicated.
Quick overview of Agile
Let’s recall what Agile exactly is and how to do it right.
Agile is an approach to project management and software development that helps teams provide small iterations at any time. Such a way of working helps to deliver value to the customers much faster and with fewer headaches. Instead of doing things on a grand scale, Agile teams deliver their work in small chunks, so-called increments, and have the natural reflex to respond quickly to any changes.
To do Agile right, you might want to follow its four core values:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Valuing your customers is extremely important as they are the ones who use the product and drive the development process by sharing their feedback. If it were the other way around, so the processes or tools would be taken more into account, the team would be less responsive to changes and, unfortunately, less likely to meet customers’ needs.
Communication and debates are the key to spotting the difference between valuing people versus processes. Talking to team members and users helps to improve the product and provide changes step-by-step. In the case of a process, debates would be scheduled beforehand and the topic of discussion would be already set; this would eventually lead to omitting important matters to customers.
- Working software over a comprehensive documentation
It is a common practice to spend enormous amounts of time on documenting product processes. We can list out basically anything — technical specifications or requirements, interface design documents, or required approvals and test plans. Such extensive documentation is sadly a cause of long delays in development and delivery.
The Agile methodology does not eliminate the documentation process but streamlines it to a form that provides the developers with what is needed to do the work. Here, it is more efficient to document the requirements as user stories that can be later treated as the next action points. Agile Manifesto values written documentation or assets but working with software is valued even more.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
The negotiations are a part of the work during which the customer and product manager work out the details of delivery. Such meetings also allow everyone to renegotiate the development scope if it turns out to be insufficient or too much to deliver in one sprint.
In other models, such as Waterfall, the customers first discuss the product requirements, often in great detail, before any coding or programming starts. Therefore, they are involved only at the beginning of the project and after it is completed. They miss the entire development phase — the creation of a product.
The Agile methodology has adopted a completely different style of work. It treats the customer as an integral part of the process, who is engaged in all talks and discussions about the next steps and collaborates throughout the development journey with the team. This approach makes it easier to meet the needs and expectations of the customer but also to avoid unnecessary problems or detect bugs at a sufficiently early stage.
One of the ways to stay in touch with the customers and meet their requirements (that might vary with time or due to market changes) is periodic demos. During such sessions, the development team can present the fruits of their work to the customer and also listen to constructive feedback to act upon it.
- Responding to change over following a plan
In Agile, the shortness of an iteration means that the priorities can be changed and shifted frequently. The project scope can look different than just two weeks ago, or new features can be added to the iteration because of popular demand or requests. Agile views changes as an opportunity to improve the project and provide additional value.
Why organizations decide to go Agile
The Agile methodology is one of the fastest-growing approaches that software development teams have been lately adopting. It has been proven that it brings immense help in creating more successful products while also completing projects in a more effective manner. Therefore, we dare to say that Agile is a much finer way to manage projects and work compared to other traditional methods such as Waterfall.
Additionally, when companies shift to Agile, they are more likely to move along with changing industry trends and adapt to them with ease. It helps to create better products in the future that are actually in demand by the market or customers. Thus, these are the reasons why Agile has become so popular in the software development environment.
We’ve also listed out a few reasons why companies decide to go Agile:
- Agile helps to incorporate customers’ feedback more rapidly
Customers’ feedback, as well as its incorporation, is an extremely salient factor when it comes to a product’s success. Unfortunately, it is also something that gets ignored very frequently in the traditional Waterfall methodology. Here, the developers find it difficult to incorporate any last-second changes into the project as they don’t have the freedom or resources for that.
The traditional Waterfall method restricts developers from making sudden improvements to the product, whereas Agile encourages them to adapt to any changes as soon as they arise. To be successful, teams work in two-week sprints and focus on iterations where customer feedback is addressed and incorporated into the product. Such an approach helps the teams understand that they can use the feedback to tailor better features based on customer requirements.
- Agile helps to improve the management of projects
The Agile framework focuses on efficiency that requires appropriate planning at the beginning of each iteration. That way, the sprint becomes more organized and more tasks are completed. To work efficiently during a sprint, teams organize such Agile events as sprint planning, sprint review, or sprint retrospective, which help them take a look at the past, stay focused on current objectives, and improve processes in the future.
Such ceremonies also help teams improve the organizational processes as the scope of work and the capacity of each team member are carefully outlined and addressed. Agile creates an exceptional working strategy that results not only in more profitable effectiveness but also in an exceptional end product.
- Agile helps to raise the productivity level of development teams
Short iterations bring the results much faster to the table, enabling the team members to see the actual workable product. It helps them to stay true to sprint’s primary goal, as there is visible proof of their progress. So, there’s actually a reason why the Agile methodology helps teams stay motivated.
Along with progress that individuals can measure, other Agile aspects come in the way. Agile gives short- and long-term product goals transparency, delivers clear project deadlines, and helps efficiently assign tasks to particular team members.
A few words about Agile methodologies
As we established in previous paragraphs, Agile is not only a methodology but a set of values and principles that help teams work more efficiently on software development. But when it comes to Agile methodologies, they show you how you should work to align with those fundamental truths and directions.
The ultimate goal of Agile is to increase the satisfaction of the customers with each iteration and software release. You can achieve that by following a specific methodology. Let’s take a deep dive into the most popular ones:
We’re pretty sure that you’ve heard this word countless times. If you haven’t tried it yet with your team, maybe it’s a perfect moment to do so? It is an excellent framework for Agile newbies because of its clear guidelines and simple start to the Agile journey.
Scrum will be a fantastic fit for frequent cross-team collaboration meetings where small teams (3 to 9 people) can share reports about their recent work challenges or successes. It is a good choice if you work in short development cycles and focus on timely releases.
“Kanban” comes from Japanese and means “a virtual board” or “cards you can see”. It is an excellent method to visualize the development processes and current state of work of each team member.
The Kanban method is highly recommended to teams that work on repetitive, different-size tasks and must juggle changing product requirements. Choose Kanban with your team if you prioritize the speed of release to market and already have some experience in Agile.
If you would like to discover more about Kanban, its principles, and how to use it on Whiteboards, we invite you to read our detailed article, specifically dedicated to this topic.
- Extreme Programming (XP)
XP focuses on knowledge sharing, taking care of the team’s well-being, and producing higher-quality software. This methodology will be a good choice for teams with varied skills, that is, teams where junior and senior software developers work together on a regular basis. It is also of great help to teams working with tight deadlines, smaller budgets, and frequently changing requirements of projects.
Did you know that there are many more Agile methodologies than the ones we just described above? Read our beginner’s guide on the top 9 Agile methodologies to choose the one that would work best for your team. Discover our latest article on that particular topic.
Ok, there you have it!
We hope we have brought you closer to the decision if you would like to introduce Agile methodology to your team in the future.
In the article, we described the four values of Agile and outlined why more organizations are opting for this workflow among their software development teams. We also addressed what you’ll find in our premium guide on what is “doing Agile,” “being Agile,” or “fake Agile.”
We warmly invite you to download our additional materials.
Oh, by the way! If you’d like to learn more about how to conduct Agile events on a virtual whiteboard, watch our colleague, Pawel Mazur, who conducted a webinar on how to use Whiteboards.io for any Agile ceremony.