The Agile methodology was first created for software development projects, but it has since been implemented in other types of projects as well. I have seen the Agile methodology being used in product development and even smaller projects with great success.
Agile as a methodology is not perfect, but it allows for the entire team to strive for continuous improvement. It also puts users – customers – in the center of the development project, allowing for better products to be produced in an effective and efficient way.
Just like how Agile leads to better product iteration and improvement, the methodology itself can be improved. It is a methodology that gets affected by different factors. These next six Agile tips are the ones to turn to if you want to push your implementation of the methodology to the next level.
Agile requires every team member to work on specific tasks at a similar pace. This is often easier said than done. An inefficient team will lead to the inefficient implementation of the Agile methodology. Assembling the right team is the first big hurdle to overcome.
You can incorporate methods from production management and other fields to keep your team lean and effective. For example, you can hire more QA engineers to compensate for the high output of your main engineering team.
Output – or rather throughput – is the key here. Using output as one of the monitored metrics, you can make adjustments to your team for higher efficiency. Once the team is solid, scaling it up will be an easier task to complete.
As tempting as it may be to go on longer sprints, shorter project cycles are still the best. I know how tricky it is to define objectives – well, limit them – for a short project cycle, but the short period of time between cycles allows for more agile development as a whole.
Limit the objectives you want to achieve with every cycle to allow the whole team to focus on specific tasks. You can move remaining objectives to the next cycle. Another great thing about short project cycles is the extra buffer of capacity you gain and can allocate for urgent, incidental tasks.
It is also worth pointing out that short project cycles are exactly what Agile is all about. The short cycles allow you to gain insights from them in short succession, which means you can begin improving your product or the output of the project sooner.
There is no shortage of options when it comes to tools that can be used for Agile project management. In fact, you can reap the benefits of Agile by using a suitable tool for project management. The Kanban board and today’s cloud-based Kanban software are worth looking into.
Tools like Kanbanize allows you to manage each sprint in a visual way. Tasks are represented by cards on the board. The board itself is highly customizable, allowing you to adopt the methodology seamlessly. You can have more than three stages on the board too.
As a project management tool, Kanbanize offers features that allow for better collaborations. Team members always have access to the board in its visual form, giving them the ability to anticipate bottlenecks and potential issues early.
Another important thing to keep in mind about adopting the Agile methodology is the importance of backlog management. While backlog is great for keeping track of the future tasks that (still) need to be done, having a long backlog is counterproductive.
Managing your backlog to prevent it from becoming too long is tricky. On one hand, you see every task as important. On the other, you have limited resources and a timeframe to stick with. This is exactly why removing low-priority and unnecessary items from the backlog is a must.
Work on creating a filter that everyone can use to sort and manage backlogs. The sooner you start filtering requests, the sooner you can start organizing your backlog better. Prioritize tasks based on a predetermined set of factors to stay agile.
Speaking of prioritizing tasks, you also want to evaluate each task to stay agile. Value matters, especially when you have a big, complex project to manage. You’ll be surprised by how much easier managing tasks becomes when you know how to prioritize them accordingly.
Bugs, for example, don’t always have to be solved immediately. It is okay to let one or two low-priority bugs unfixed for a while, especially when you have higher-priority tasks on your plate. Not all tasks need to be completed right away too.
Value becomes a metric that governs your Agile process. As long as every team member is on the same understanding level when it comes to how to evaluate tasks, you will have no trouble at all staying agile and lean at the same time.
Here’s a secret: you need clear definitions of your stages for the Agile methodology to work as intended. Without these definitions, it is nearly impossible to maintain a consistent rhythm over a longer period of time.
“Done” needs to have a clear definition. At what point can a task be considered completed? What does Done really mean in different parts of the project? The same definition is also needed for every stage in your workflow, including To-Do.
Defining when to move tasks from To-Do to Doing may seem like a simple thing to do, but it helps streamline the entire workflow further. Clear definitions also help team members be more independent while maintaining a close collaboration with their peers.
I’m going to give you one more secret to end this article: don’t have a cycle that ends on Friday. That’s the worst thing you can do in an Agile workflow. You will end up working weekends, solving issues that were not anticipated before the release. Use these tips and tricks we covered in this article to help make Agile works for you as a methodology; not the other way around.