Monday, 23 January 2017

Getting agile to work for you

Different project management tools will work for different types of work and different scales of organisation. Depending on the context, your project may work better with agile, lean, scrum, kanban, or some hybrid approach.

Use the right methodology for the project

Agile methodologies like Scrum work really well for development projects, usually ones where the team is focusing on one project at a time.  Agile approaches to marketing have also been devised, as the funnel approach to marketing lends itself particularly well to an agile process. According to the Scrum Alliance,
Scrum is an Agile framework for completing complex projects. Scrum originally was formalized for software development projects, but it works well for any complex, innovative scope of work. The possibilities are endless. The Scrum framework is deceptively simple.
For tasks that are a one-off instance, such as support requests, a system like kanban, which enables staff to prioritise incoming tasks, may work better. The four principles of Kanban are:
  1. Visualize Work
  2. Limit Work in Process
  3. Focus on Flow
  4. Continuous Improvement
Kanban can be used to monitor and restrict how much work is in progress at any one time, and ensure efficiency. It is based on a just-in-time ordering system developed by Toyota in the late 1940s.

Scaling agile approaches

Because agile methodologies use a just-in-time approach to selecting features to build for the next iteration of the software, it can be difficult to visualise how to make long-term planning work with agile project management, and how to ensure they can scale across an organisation.

There are two main ways to scale agile across an organisation: the "scrum of scrums" and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe):
In SAFe, large areas of related work, called themes, map to business epics and architectural epics. Business epics describe customer-facing initiatives such as launching a new product. Architectural epics are company technology initiatives such as migrating from Windows- to linux-based servers. These epics make up the portfolio backlog.

Culture shift

Switching to agile from a more "traditional" approach involves considerable cultural change in the organisation. For an organisation or company to really succeed in implementing agility, it needs to be understood and embraced at all levels, not only by developers.

An agile kitten (Public Domain)