If you have spent some time in the start-up world, you have definitely experienced the coming and going of buzz words. Well, Agile project management is not just a passing trend and is actually here to stay. Companies that have switched to Agile have experienced a boost in productivity and innovation.
Before all else, it is important to understand what exactly is Agile projects management before taking the plunge and changing how you currently do things in your company. Whenever this question is asked in a room of executives, consultants, professionals or students, chances are, 99% of those who answer will miss the mark when defining Agile.
Agile can best be described as a set of values agreed upon by the original 17 signatories of the Agile Manifesto, who came together and agreed on a set of values for building technology. If you have heard of Scrum, Kanban or Lean, these refer to specific instantiations of the Agile method.
Agile was born from a need to change the way in which software is developed in order to realize its full potential. Tenets of the manifesto include:
- Valuing individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Valuing working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Effective response to change over following a set plan.
- Valuing customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
Therefore agile is not just a tool you will use and discard at will. It is a set of values that values people and approach more than the tools used. It is therefore important that your organization understands what Agile is before you decide to change. From CEO to your freelance developer and even your customers, everyone needs to be on board and understand the value of the change to Agile.
Transitioning to Agile can be difficult for organizations that are hard-set in their traditional ways. Only about 60% of such companies manage to make the transition. Why? You may ask. Well, Agile presents a completely different view of thinking. For example, in the course of their education, software developers and computer scientists focus almost entirely on technology, computing languages, tools, and systems. A complete shift of mindset is required for them to value individuals and interactions more. You, therefore, need a team that can easily adapt.
You might ask: Is it really worth it spending money and time on an initiative that will not directly impact earnings in the next quarter? Well, yes, it is. Where transitions have been planned and carefully executed, technology teams have been seen to increase their productivity by over 100%, not mentioning the positive changes in company culture. Clients are more pleased with their projects since they are included in development and technology teams change from being a source of irritation and cost.
Of course, for those that succeed in the transition to Agile, there are those who fail. Shifting to Agile is not easy but it can be very rewarding. What is needed is the ability to unlearn old ways and a willingness to embody a new set of values.