Agile is not just a methodology; it’s a mindset. Several other methods and frameworks are based on the Agile manifesto; two of the most widely known are Scrum and SAFe.
Agile thinking is not really about project management but product management. One essential part of the definition of a project is that it has defined start and end dates. Agile methods work best when you establish a cadence of iterations released over a more extended period, as with long-term software development. However, a typical project is completed long before the team gets the chance to settle into a cadence.
A project isn’t Agile just because you display the Agile terminology. We’ve seen projects advertised as Agile when in reality they merely divide the usual waterfall steps into multiple iterations. The project implementation sequences are still defined regarding requirements, design, configuration, testing, and production release—and that isn’t Agile. Agile produces working software products at each iteration, not only at the very end. You define/develop the requirements and design as you go along.
A genuinely Agile-driven process is less prone to errors and rework because of its collaborative approach, and all project stakeholders are involved. Errors are caught at the early stages, long before they result in an expensive rework. However, Agile requires more resource commitment from SMEs and stakeholders—not just the Product Owner. Everyone needs to review work and provide input and feedback during the entire delivery process.
Do not force your project to adopt Agile just because it’s the “in” thing to do. Some projects can’t be forced to adopt Agile, and if your project must follow a rigid sequence of requirements, design, and so forth, and not flexible to adapt to changing needs, then Agile might not be suitable.
Some projects lend themselves to an Agile/Waterfall hybrid approach. The important thing is to separate project deliverables into two parts — one that is a waterfall (traditional software development lifecycle) in approach and another that’s Agile. This hybrid approach would work well if the Traditional SDLC method is used to establish the infrastructure for deploying a new solution, then try an Agile approach for the iterative development and the necessary configurations.
All projects can benefit from the Agile philosophy. Whether it is relating to software development or not, there are multiple elements of the Agile manifesto that will add value to any project.
Business Leadership support is vital to maintaining an Agile culture; You need to ensure that you don’t go through the motions to satisfy management. To meet with real success, it’s essential that everyone embrace the Agile mindset including senior leadership.
Please expect more in future blog posts, but I do hope that you and your organization take full advantage of what Agile philosophy and Agile software development approach have to offer.
At WayMaker Digital, we help organizations to deliver their projects while adopting the Agile culture across the business. Our core specialties include Requirements Analysis, Business Process Automation, and establishing an Agile Project Delivery cadence that’s repeatable and sustainable for business customers. If you would like to have a conversation on how we might be able to help, please get in touch.
Also published on Medium.