AGILE SERVICES FAQS
Whether you’re new to Agile or an old fan finally getting the chance to implement Agile into your work environment, several questions have likely crossed your mind. Check out these common questions and tips to maximize the value of Agile in your organization.
What, exactly, is Agile? And why do teams use it?
There are many ways to describe Agile. Structurally, it is a set of processes, procedures, and frameworks designed to help teams manage projects through an iterative approach. However, Agile is more than just a checklist of practices. It is a mindset of adaptability and transparency. When properly adopted, it leads to faster, higher quality work delivery, a more positive work environment, and an organization that is better equipped to take on an ever-changing and unpredictable business landscape. For more on the benefits of agile, check out our blog, "Why Agile."
What is the difference between Agile and Agile Transformation?
While Agile can be described as a set of processes and mindsets, an Agile Transformation is the adoption of those processes and mindsets. It is the act of a team or an organization becoming Agile, by changing it's culture, procedures, and toolsets. For more on Agile Transformations, click here.
Where do I start?
Now that you’ve decided to try implementing Agile, it's time to reach out to Agile experts and start getting leadership buy-in. You will need both support and enthusiasm for a successful implementation process. Just remember that clear, consistent communication is key and that it will be important to follow up and hold each other accountable for progress.
For more on how to earn leadership buy-in check some tips here.
What are Scrum & Kanban?
It's always worth repeating that there is more than one way to practice Agile. There are several styles to choose from, all of which can be tweaked to better fit your team's needs. Two strategies we are frequently asked about are Scrum and Kanban.
Kanban is a visualization-focused strategy that prioritizes workflow maximization. Work tracking is simple and downplays time-fixed tasks through the use of "To-Do, In-Progress, Done" charts which are owned and managed by the teams that use them. If you've been on our website, you've likely seen some images of these boards.
Scrum is more focused on work planning and prioritization and makes use of time intervals, usually called sprints, which help denote when work should be attended to and completed. At the end of every sprint, progress is reviewed and the next sprint is planned, with teams making adjustments based upon what was learned from the last sprint review.
As you can see, both of these strategies add different types of value to an Agile organization. Some teams can't be effective without time-boxing their work, while others find doing so to be time-consuming and unnecessary. It's all about finding what works best for your team. And if you aren't sure if either of these is for you, don't worry. There are many options to choose from and you can always mix and match for a better-tailored approach. For more, check out "Jira Kanban or Scrum?"
Who will facilitate the Agile Transformation?
We all know large-scale implementation usually requires leadership support and outside experts to help consult and configure the new system, but that’s not all. One way organizations make the change is by altering existing roles or by bringing in new talent to serve as scrum masters or coaches. These decisions help facilitate lead the change in a more formal sense. However, champions and facilitators without formal titles can and should be found in every affected department, particularly those who stand to benefit the most. Even if you’re not an expert or the final authority, YOU can help facilitate, too by keeping an open mind and supporting your team as they learn to adapt!
Will Agile work for my team?
It’s natural to have second thoughts, and the question is an important one. Becoming Agile is a big commitment, and often comes with upfront expenses. You want to be sure that it's right for your team. That being said, it is important to remember that countless frameworks can be mixed, matched, and tailored to your team's needs. Any team can be Agile, as long as they are willing to embrace change, and that includes teams outside of the software and developement space. Agile can be utilized by teams ranging from HR, to Marketing, to Healthcare, and beyond. It’s all just a matter of understanding your needs, following through, and finding the best system for YOU.
What if the team is resistant to Agile?
Getting the team on board can be one of the biggest challenges in Agile adoption. This is especially true when Agile is not the first “new method” that has been introduced to the team. To make matters more difficult, team buy-in is a necessary part of the process, and a team that is hesitant toward it due to doubt, discomfort, or misunderstanding will be a hindrance to the adoption’s success. That being said, there are a few things you can do to help reduce your team’s resistance.
To start, we suggest that leadership...
Share their plans | Teams work better and with more confidence when they know what they are doing and why.
Encourage Honest Feedback | Having a workplace where questions are welcomed and answered and where well-meaning feedback (whether positive or negative) is acknowledged helps to build trust. Retros and Collaboration tools can help with this.
Properly Introduce Agile | It is extremely important that when Agile is adopted, it is done correctly. Leadership and Teams need to be properly trained on what Agile is and how it should be performed. Any tools that are implemented also need to be properly configured and users need to understand how they work. This will help to make sure that teams understand what they’re doing and that time is not wasted on un-learning bad habits.
How long will this take?
This one’s a bit trickier to answer, as a truly Agile organization is always adopting more efficient practices, and the actual implementation process ranges anywhere from weeks to months, depending as much upon the size and structure of your organization as it does upon any software you might be implementing. That being said, most transformations include: Discovery, Leadership On-Boarding, Team On-Boarding, Tool Implementation & Training, and Coaching.
Discovery includes interviews, assessments, and other data collection methods geared towards understanding where an organization is, what they need, and what their Agile Transformation will entail.
Leadership On-Boarding prioritizes on introduction to Agile, road mapping, leadership training, and other exercises designed to prepare leadership for changing methods, culture, and expectations.
Team On-boarding is focused on Introduction to Agile, relevant Agile methods and framework training (such as Scrum, Kanban, ScaledAgile, etc.), Agile roles, and any additional sessions needed to prepare the team for their new ways of working.
Tool Implementation & Training involves the implementation and special configuration of any tools an organization might be using, Administrator Training, User Training, and the establishment of internal or external maintenance routines for the tools.
Coaching is a continuous part of a Transformation intended to guide organizations as they learn to problem solve and adapt within their new Agile mindset. Coaches help fill the gap between formal training and the full enactment of Agile processes and procedures.
Many of these steps take place incrementally and in an overlapping fashion, working together to ensure that a transformation is as seamless and effective as possible. For a more specific breakdown, talk with your Agile guides to find out what your timeline is going to look like.
What tools do I need?
The tools you’ll need will depend upon how centralized your team is and what your work looks like. Certain aspects of Agile can be carried out with whiteboards and sticky notes. Others work better with cloud products that can be accessed and secured through an internet connection. While we personally find these cloud products, such as Atlassian’s Jira Software, Confluence, & Jira Service Management to be great for tracking, planning, and documenting work, we are also dedicated to making sure that we find the most efficient tools to match our clients’ needs and resources.
Do you have other burning questions about Agile? Let us know and we’ll do our best to satisfy your curiosity!