Software development can be rather welcoming when it comes to adopting new methods and building unique strategies. Even though some of you may feel like there’s always only one solution or one way to go, the truth is there are always different solutions you can apply. If you’ve realized how your typical “waterfall” workflow may have some faults and you are looking forward to making a change, Agile is the way to go.
When we’re talking about Agile, we’re talking about innovation, increased productivity and better results. It represents a different approach to workflow organization and is aimed at finding solutions faster and reaching a conclusion as effective as possible. According to the Annual Developer Survey by Stack Overflow, 85.9% of more than 100.000 professional developers said they use Agile processes in their work.
If you’re thinking about kick-starting your first Agile project, but you’re not sure exactly how to do it, you’ll find all the information you need below. Here’s everything you need to know about kick-starting an agile project.
1. The Motive
Why go agile?
First things first, you need to clear your head and set a firm foundation. There’s no point in rushing things and starting them off without a defined idea. Therefore, you need to be certain about what is it that’s making you go Agile and what do you expect to achieve.
In other words, you need to define:
- your ultimate goal
- the motive behind achieving it through an Agile project
There can be different business needs making you go Agile. Every company and every team have different motives and ideas about Agile and how it can influence their productivity. Here are some of the most typical reasons for going Agile:
- increasing productivity
- offering new solutions to customers
- adapting to changes faster
- reducing costs
Whatever the reason is, make sure you’ve defined it and you’re certain you’re doing the right thing. Once you’ve got that covered, you can move on to the next phase.
2. The Team
Who’s on board?
Every project requires you to set up a team of trustworthy people, who support your idea.
If your Agile project is a first, you’ll need to ensure everyone on board understands how things are going to work and what their role is. Therefore, when recruiting people for your Agile project, it’s important that you:
- share the business need for an Agile project
- set clear instructions and guidelines
- assign roles and tasks
Make sure that you’ve got every department covered and all the team members are ready to collaborate.
According to a Forbes article about the Agile-team forming strategy, “when selecting the right project team, there are three aspects of the outcome that need to be optimized: efficiency, quality and skill development.”
Agile projects require cross-department collaboration and simultaneous work on solving the same problem. Team members need to be open for communication with one another and prepared to give assistance whenever it’s needed.
Training your team to think Agile is, therefore, crucial. Do it in the earliest stage and you’ll have no problem carrying out the project.
3. Milestones & Phases
What’s the plan?
Another highly important idea behind Agile is the flexibility. Keeping things open for change, adaptation, discussion, and consideration is a requirement you can’t ignore.
To put it simply, Agile project isn’t so much about focusing on the very end of the project. It’s more about the process and the results which come along during it.
Because of this, your task is to set up little milestones your project is going to consist of. The completion of the milestones will lead to the completion of the entire project. However, you’ll be able to assess the results after each individual milestone and reconsider each step which is to come.
This way, you’re leaving things open for adaptation, which consequentially leads to better results. The bottom line is this:
- divide the project into smaller milestones
- asses the result after the completion of each milestone
- be prepared to change your initial project organization based on the results
How can we increase productivity?
Regular meetings are what makes the Agile methodology work. In order for the whole thing to work, you need to work on team building and mutual understanding between team members.
The best way to handle this is to set up regular daily meetings . It may sound like it’s too much work, so let’s break it down a bit.
A daily meeting should start in the morning, 10 minutes before everyone goes to their offices or desks and start working. The meeting needs to be brief and concise. The goal of the meeting is to:
- define the daily goal
- discuss issues and problems
- find solutions together
- make a daily plan
- organize people’s work hours
Rod Johnson, the CEO of Trust My Paper says that “By having everyone in the same room you’re ensuring all team members are on the same page. This not only increases productivity, but speeds things up and helps the whole team stay focused on the most important things at a selected moment.”
Who’s in charge?
Even though teamwork is what it’s all about, your Agile project has to have a leader. The person in charge of coordinating the whole thing is what makes things run smoothly and uninterruptedly.
If you decide you’re the leader of the project, you’re taking the responsibility all to yourself. This means your task is to:
- schedule meetings
- solve possible issues
- ensure a healthy communication across departments
- make the right calls in crisis situations
- give guidance
If you’re thinking about placing someone else to be the leader, make sure to choose wisely. It has to be someone trustworthy and authoritative, to keep things up and running.
So, there you have it. An Agile project requires some serious preparation and there’s a lot of details you need to consider. However, with the right mindset and determination, you can do anything.
Choose the people you trust in and train them properly. Give them the right guidance and craft a plan. Then, reassess the plan as much as possible, making room for adaption and preparation. Once you’ve got that covered, your Agile project is bound to be a success.