“Agile” is a hot topic these days in product development circles, but what does it really entail for your business? The Agile approach is simple in concept, but is not so easy to implement successfully. Which is usually why companies often fail at Agile – they do the easy parts without doing the hard parts. For example, they implement daily stand-up meetings, and chop up requirements into sprints, and then call themselves “Agile”.
But while Agile practices are important, Agile is really more about the principles of changing how people interact, work and think. It’s about establishing a culture that embraces open collaboration between business and technical individuals across an enterprise. It’s about continuous improvement through inspection and adaption. And it’s about transparency and accountability of actions. Here are a few other points you may want to think about when it comes to adopting Agile:
First of all, many companies underestimate the time commitment and skills required by the role of the Product Owner. So, they pick a resource based solely on product knowledge. An Agile Product Owner is a project’s key stakeholder. He or she is responsible for maintaining and prioritizing the product backlog features (stories) by collaborating with all stakeholders, and ensuring that the development team understands what the highest value features are. To become truly effective at this, most Product Owners need to be trained and groomed over time.
Secondly, it’s important to keep things simple. Many people try to complicate Agile or turn it into a methodology. Instead, Agile principles promote simplification wherever possible. For example, documentation is lighter while still providing needed governance; meetings are time-limited to keep them focused; face-to-face communication is preferred to minimize miscommunication or delays; and detailed planning is done only for the more immediate priorities instead of constructing a comprehensive end-to-end plan that is likely to change dramatically by the project’s end.
And last but not least, the Agile principles of open collaboration, continuous improvement, transparency and accountability should ideally be promoted across the entire enterprise. Implementing Agile principles can improve operational speed and excellence, and foster greater corporate growth and profitability.