Agile is known to be one of the most popular and widely adopted approaches in project management that have been common in the IT industry today. So what is Agile, by the way?
Agile is simply defined as a project management approach which consists of “Sprints” or low-level development cycles to ensure unsurpassed improvement in your offerings. Now you might be wondering what is “Sprint”. It is a predefined timeframe in which team is required to finish a task. Usually, there is a review at the end of each sprint where you can check the performances of your team and discuss how to further improve the process.
Many industries have adopted the Agile approach where they need to build services or products through small but regular changes. Unlike the Waterfall approach (in which detailed process for product development is involved), Agile is based on constant updates and flexibility on the process.
The Agile approach has been adopted by over 71% of companies for their operations, both in short and long term, according to a survey conducted by Capterra. In another survey, Agile projects have 28% more success rate as compared to traditional approaches. It proves the popularity and efficiency of this approach for overall development.
Agile is, basically, an umbrella term for a huge number of practices and frameworks. Scrum, Lean, Kanban, and XP are some of the popular frameworks in Agile project management. Before moving ahead for the best practices in Agile to implement them all, here are some of the best Agile project management practices.
Best Practices in Agile Project Management
- Hold Meetings Everyday
The success behind Agile methodology depends very much on regular meetings. But it doesn’t mean these meetings should be long and boring. Keep these meetings short and brief with each team member. You should explain clearly what they have to do and discuss the progress of the given tasks. This practice is very vital to keep track of the team’s performance and figure out if there are any hurdles in the development.
- Iterative Model
According to the Iterative Development Model, you need to break down bigger projects into small ones and you need to constantly perform the tests on a regular basis. This way, your team would get the complete picture of what new features they have to add to the end service product. This model plays a vital role in the overall development process.
- Use Professional Project Management Tools
In order to implement Agile approaches perfectly in your organization, it is highly recommended to use project management tools to improve team management and strategize their workflows. A professional tool is widely recommended for managing meetings and documentation. It can easily save your team from managing the tasks manually. There are different tools come with amazing features and smart coverage for all your Agile needs.
Best practices for some of the widely used Agile approaches
Scrum is known as the leading framework in Agile project management. According to the stats, Scrum is adopted by over 58% of companies for products development and 18% implement Scrum with other frameworks. Here are some of the best Agile practices in Scrum management –
- Let Product Vision and Product Backlog going hand in hand
The product backlog is a list of items which have been ordered and which should be needed for product development. Creating product vision and product backlog together is always wise for implementing Scrum management. This way, you can keep both stakeholders and the development team at the same pace. It helps align the vision and develop mutual understanding well.
- Set Guidelines for Teams regarding communication
Smooth communication is very vital for Scrum and poor communication is the bottleneck to the overall functioning of the business. The key here is to make a proper strategy for smooth and effective communication with all the vital guidelines. This practice is very helpful for remote teams to ensure proper transparency.
- Burndown Charts
A regular burndown chart is key to keep track of the pace of Sprints. With the help of graphs, the Burndown charts show the total work left vs. the amount of work done. This tool is very vital to keep the team informed about the scope of the project and the consequences that may take place. These charts help keep track of the risks related to work which is yet to be delivered.
Stand-ups are considered as short meetings that you can hold among team members regularly. The Daily Scrum meetings are usually held for no longer than 15 minutes to keep them brief and short. Practice stand-up meetings for project or product development process. It is very vital to keep track of the work progress and to keep everyone in the same frame of updates. These meetings help the team to keep track of what to do and what not on the process.
2. Kanban Project Management
It is a Japanese approach to keep track of the demand and supply of products with color-coded cards in the production line. Later on, the organizations started adopting the same for other workflows as defined boards for to-do lists and tasks like ‘in-progress’, ‘not stated’ and ‘done’. Here are the best Agile practices for implementing Kanban approach successfully –
- Setting Workflows
You can easily keep track of duties by visualizing workflows with cards and boards. This way, you can see the progress of each task and identify the hurdles in the process of product development. In general, these boards have a drag and drop option to move the tasks to different panes to see the process.
- Gather feedback
It is very vital to gather feedback from team members from time to time to get an insight into their overall progress. This feedback is very valuable to learn about the hurdles which may take place in the overall product development cycle and learn where improvement is needed.
- Control Work-in-Progress
Controlling work-in-progress and having fixed constraints can limit the cards needed in the active pane. At the same time, it helps teams to know what work should be done in the specific time frame. You don’t have to re-prioritize the tasks and you can avoid all the bottlenecks in the process by controlling pending work.
- Monitor the flow
Keeping track on the workflow can be helpful to the team to monitor the overall progress. This way, they can learn how frequently they have to go with the flow. It helps teams to know the flow and speed of delivery. With good flow, you can ensure a predictable and constant workflow. In this system, work which stops and starts constantly is known as ‘Bad’.
3. Lean Project Model
You need to deploy lean manufacturing process for project management. The Lean project management works essentially to avoid waste or anything which doesn’t do anything good for the work. Here are some of the best practices for implementing lean project model –
- Know the Value
To know the value related to each of the projects, you need to break down bigger projects into smaller and more manageable tasks as well as subtasks. With this approach, you can have a better knowledge of workflows and know what not to do and what you can avoid. This way, it can have more value for your work.
- Low wastage
From the perspective of project management, eliminating waste can help avoid any meetings, tasks or paperwork which are unnecessary for product development. This way, you can easily direct the team and play a vital role in adding value.
- Constant Improvement
For the proper deployment of the Lean process, you constantly need to improve along with the project development. You need to convey the project guidelines and needs to the team to ensure minimal waste and achieve improvements.
4. XP Framework (Extreme Programming)
This Agile framework is very vital to develop the top quality product while improving the team’s productivity and efficiency and to know the best way to collaborate. Here are some of the best Agile practices for XP framework –
- Test-Oriented Development
Constant tests are performed to keep track of the overall functionality of separate codes before running the final code. This practice is very helpful for programmers to undergo various situations where there are risks for failure. It also helps save time and control defects in product development.
- Minor Releases
This concept focuses on the iteration approach and it promotes minor releases throughout the lifecycle of development. This practice is helpful for the whole team to know how the product is going and know the specific glitches which might take place on the overall process.
- Plan the process
Assign all the team members to collaborate and take part in the whole process of planning. Make sure there is no haziness or doubt among the team working on a project. You can have a meeting at regular intervals and take updates accordingly.
- Keep the design simple
It is always better to keep the design of your product simple as it can be easier to solve problems and it saves time to write. With this process, you can cut the overall development cost and make way for your team to do the things right.
All in all, these are the best Agile practices with a great range of options. All you need to understand your team and business better and address your needs to adopt the best practice.
Do’s and Don’ts in Adopting Agile
So your analysis and research have been completed and you have finally decided to switch to Agile. Congratulations, what’s next? Whether you are going to implement agile as a program, project or enterprise, consider the following do’s and don’ts to lay the groundwork for a smooth process.
- Work on key ingredients
When there are around 31 types of Agile frameworks, they all have their own features like improved communication, superior development, frequent releases and reviews, and evolving and adaptive requirements. No matter which framework you prefer, i.e. Kanban, Scrum, XP framework or other, the key is to always keep track on high-level principles and don’t get into inflexible specifics of a framework.
- Follow the rules
You cannot ignore all the rules when implementing Agile framework. You should follow at least some of the rules instead of going ahead of yourself. You need to do some basic activities which are vital to ensure success.
First of all, product backlogs are very vital to meet your business needs and organize your high-level process. It ensures a transparent and organized approach to meet project goals and deadlines. Similarly, you also have to identify your responsibilities and roles. You should know what you need – Business Leads, Product Owners, or Customer Executives.
In simple words, you need at least someone who can review the process, prioritize tasks, give final rejections/approvals, and answer queries. Finally, retrospectives also play a vital role. You need to identify what works and what not, how to improve in programs, projects, and the whole enterprise to succeed and be with it.
- Aware the staff
Well, this is quite obvious. The agile process cannot be made possible if your team doesn’t know anything about it. In any kind of change management, making employees aware is very important. Team members cannot learn agile in the middle, or on the fly.
You need to train your team about the agile principles, specifics about the frameworks, and explain why agile is best for them, in advance. Early win plays a vital role to keep up. It improves self-confidence, awareness, and keeps other teams encouraged for their work. You may not want your first project to fail. And nothing can be worse than not training or educating your team about what is coming next.
- Don’t be scared of failure
Agile project management is the process to learn from your mistakes and move on, adjust processes, and adapt to new changes as needed.
- Don’t forget to aware your stakeholders
It takes a lot of things when it comes to switching to Agile, both in processes involved and culture needed. So, you should aware your stakeholders about the value of Agile and the processes involved. Make sure not to scare them by causing unwanted concern on the move.
- Don’t overlook the Timeboxes
Sometimes doing less is more for an Agile framework. To serve more stories, you don’t have to extend the length of Sprint. Let your team adapt with change and limit the risk with shorter sprints.
So, you have decided to transition to an Agile process. What’s next? No all organizations or projects can be the same and they have their own needs for agile. We hope the above processes and do’s and don’ts can help you climb the success ladder on your Agile transition.