Why Agile makes sense; for all stakeholders
You’ve probably heard of agile, maybe you’ve been asked the question “why agile?” or maybe you’re asking that question yourself. This is a very relevant question, as the popularity of agile has soared across multiple industries, yet the benefits are still not fully understood by everyone.
In this article, we’ll explore why agile makes sense for business managers, teams and arguably most importantly, customers.
For Business Managers
- Faster ROI
Agile has 12 guiding principles that uphold the agile manifesto. Principle number 3 is: ‘Deliver working software frequently’. Whatever the deliverable, frequent iterative deliveries accelerates the feedback loop, minimizes the cost of delay and increases the return on investment. What’s not to like?
- Reduced Risk
Agile principles are designed to reduce risk through continuous delivery, continuous improvement and close collaboration with the customer. By maintaining a sustainable development cycle, a predictable cadence of development, transparency throughout and continuous feedback, risk mitigation is achieved.
- Self-Organised Teams
Managing teams isn’t easy, especially as your teams grow. Principle number 11 is: ‘The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.’ Gone are the days of assigning work, chasing status updates and solving every problem that crops up. A self-organised team tracks their own work, works together to resolve issues and reports their own progress, which means more time to focus on strategic and customer focused objectives.
- Predictable Costs and Schedule
Whilst agile welcomes changing requirements, many of the principles, including number 4: ‘Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project’ aims to increase predictability. Following principle 4 ensures that the blockers are known, the dependencies are clear, the estimations are discussed, the value is articulated and the customer is visible. With this information and with time, an agile team becomes predictable and enables just enough planning to deliver value early, learn and improve.
- Increased Competitive Advantage
Principle number 2 states that an agile team should ‘Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage’. Being able to adapt and change is key to surviving in any industry, by moving away from a more linear approach to delivery, you allow for changes to be incorporated with minimal costs. Furthermore, close collaboration and communication with the customer allows for any changes in requirements to be known at the earliest opportunity.
For The Team
- Improved Team Morale
Agile principle number 5 is: ‘Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done’. Having the flexibility to work in your own way can help you to feel valued and motivated. With the rise in working from home, the feeling of being trusted to self-organise promotes a happier and more open work environment and creates a more desirable company culture.
- Increased Flexibility
When your team becomes truly agile, it empowers them with the flexibility to work in the way they want/need to. You work with smaller chunks of work and are supplemented with customer feedback so you can adapt quickly, reducing wasted time, cost and frustration.
- Continuous Improvement
Striving for continuous improvement and self-reflection is the 12th agile principle. Agile working promotes a culture of idea sharing and collaboration which allows you and your team to learn from shared experiences and find ways of improving together.
For The Customer
- Increased Transparency
The agile manifesto promotes customer collaboration which means when adopting agile you, the customer, are involved throughout the development process, not just the planning phase. Being included at every stage you are able to voice your opinion at the earliest opportunity, provide feedback and report issues. Equally, the team has the opportunity to share their views and report any blockers. By having this transparency, the real value is delivered much faster and to a higher standard.
- Frequent Releases Of New Features
The typical Waterfall methodology is made up of 7 stages with each stage dependent on the last. Therefore, there is no value delivered until that 7th stage is complete. Furthermore, once a stage is completed there is no way of going back without starting the whole process again, so any missed requirements or issues in development are either ignored or the project starts back at stage 1. Whereas with the agile approach, the aim is to deliver value early by delivering frequently as per agile principle number 1 (‘Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software’). By delivering regularly a constant feedback loop is created and any issues can be resolved and improvements can be implemented as required, this enables the team to deliver what you truly need much faster.
- Higher Quality Products
By promoting technical excellence, simplicity in development, collaboration between the team and the customer, continuous improvement and self-organised teams, agile projects aim to create high quality deliverables. Agile projects include testing throughout development, they encourage the right people to be involved at the right time (testers, developers, customers etc.) and they aim to create sustainable solutions that meet changing requirements.
- More Value-Driven Deliverables
Value is defined differently by different people working in different industries, however, most people would agree that delivering value is what is important, no matter their definition. Agile delivery enables more value-driven deliverables by not requiring extensive planning and estimating up-front and instead focusing on prioritising requirements that have the highest value to you, the customer. Then, by delivering in small chunks or iterations you and the team can inspect and adapt the deliverables to continuously improve on the value already delivered.
Agile working has many benefits to all involved if implemented correctly (although it is not a silver bullet that will solve all of your problems). The way in which you implement the agile methodology is up to you. There are many frameworks available that can help to provide you with the structure and guide to follow, such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming and many more. Some won’t be suitable at all and others may work perfectly – or even mix-and-match certain aspects of different frameworks together with what works for your specific organisation’s needs.
Whichever method you choose, hopefully you can see that by following the agile principles you can be on your way to delivering faster, improving as a team, increasing your competitive advantage and delivering true value.
To find out more about the Agile Manifesto, please follow the link below: