Do you often think about how to get more done, or faster, or achieve better overall results? Or simply said, how to improve your delivery teams’ performance? This question is crucial in today’s dynamic and ever-changing digital business environment.
If you are wondering that, then Agile project management may be the right answer for you.
What is Agile?
Chances are you have already heard about Agile. However, is it just a trendy business buzzword, or is it a management methodology that can actually serve to increase your productivity?
Agile is a working philosophy, an umbrella term for several different project management methodologies. It’s an approach based on constant collaboration, working in iterations, and the idea that you can continuously change and improve a project throughout its life cycle. Its values and principles were collected in the 2001 Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
Compared to the traditional approach, Agile results in higher team productivity, better quality, lower risk, and faster time-to-market.
So how can you put it into practice and improve your team’s performance?
Build a motivating work environment
Agile is all about individuals and their interactions, not processes and tools. It focuses on valuing your team members and keeping them motivated by supporting their needs and trusting them to get the job done. It’s also important to encourage mutual respect and support.
You can keep your team’s passion for work by removing the impediments and allowing them to express their ideas. Also, make sure they have the support of business stakeholders and company executives as well. Nothing kills motivation faster than fighting for validation and respect.
A good work environment allows the team to establish their work rhythm and keeps them focused on the goal, ultimately boosting their performance.
Focus on communication and collaboration
In Agile, emphasis on collaboration and communication helps create more efficient and creative teams. Wondering how?
Here’s the thing: no one knows everything, nor do they have all the necessary skills and abilities to do everything on their own. Therefore, encourage your team members to lean on and learn from each other, grow together, and thus develop a strong sense of belonging to the team.
You should also foster open face-to-face communication. This allows your team to propose new ideas, innovations, and solutions. Thus, it enables each team member to become a creative force and actively contribute to the team.
Delivery teams also need to communicate regularly with business stakeholders and clients during the product development process. Discussing features, functionality, user-friendly solutions, and possible new changes and requirements ensures that your team delivers what your customer actually needs.
Strong collaboration and open communication build an empowered team, and an empowered team performs better.
Form self-organizing teams
Pressuring the team won’t do anything to improve performance — quite the contrary! Instead, try to understand the dynamics of your team. Or better yet, help the team self-organize and take responsibility for improving their own performance.
Self-organizing teams choose how to divide and execute work, fully utilizing the capabilities of each team member. Therefore, management doesn’t need to assign tasks and constantly monitor them. Because you trust the team to make the right decisions and hold itself accountable for outcomes, it continually improves its performance by learning, adapting, and self-correcting.
With proper training, coaching, and mentoring, teams can learn how to self-organize, plan, and execute an Agile software development project.
Picture this. Your client’s requirements unexpectedly changed at the last minute. After the project was completed, testing revealed that something wasn’t working as it should have. An unforeseen obstacle appeared in the late stages of the development process. Sounds familiar? Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario your team will have to deal with.
That’s why detailed requirements documentation and a project plan written at the beginning only serve as an initial guide but never as a roadmap that’s set in stone. That means that you shouldn’t try to stick to your initial plan no matter what. Instead, allow for the plan to change as you develop the software. Be flexible, adapt, and embrace the challenges. See them as an opportunity to experiment, learn, and enhance your team’s performance.
Just remember that a well-formed user story is enough to start right away. There will be plenty of opportunities for changes and adjustments.
Make it simple
In Agile project management, simplicity is essential. By keeping things simple, you can improve the performance of your delivery team.
Simplicity means fully understanding a customer’s requirements and desired outcome. Based on that, the team builds the simplest solution that might satisfy that requirement. After getting customer feedback, the team can incrementally improve the solution until the client is happy with their product.
However, that’s not all. Simplicity allows the team to do as little work as possible to achieve the outcome. That is, to write the least amount of code. The smaller the code, the less room for errors. Also, the fewer bugs that will appear later. Simple solutions allow for smooth maintenance, easy debugging, and retesting, too.
Make it a habit to reflect on your past performance with your team members after each development iteration. Look for ways to be more effective. Analyze data and feedback from your clients or other teams. Use that information to decide which practice to abandon and which to adopt.
Identify together what you should stop doing, start doing, or keep doing. Determine your mistakes and try to predict potential problems and challenges.
Take this self-reflection seriously and do your best to learn from it. Over time, your team can build its own set of practices that enhance your performance and velocity, i.e., how much work your team can successfully complete within a two-week sprint.
Becoming agile means more than just adopting an agile methodology. It’s about adopting a new way of thinking or developing an agile mindset. Embracing Agile calls for behavioral and cultural changes.
There’s no single instruction to become agile, just as there’s no single agile method or practice. Which one you choose depends on your business’s needs.
It’s a constant learning, adapting, and creative process. When implemented correctly, it boosts the performance of your teams and your overall business — a much-needed benefit in today’s dynamic tech environment.