The Agile methodology stemmed from the need to drive greater efficiency in the software development process. At the heart of this method lie four key pillars: collaborate, deliver, reflect and improve. And while the practice was born out of innovation, the Heart of Agile conference reminds us that in the same breath, it is a discipline.
As we get ready to celebrate the seventh annual Agile Awards, I can’t help but share some valuable information that I was reminded of while attending the latest Heart of Agile conference. In recent years, there has been a bit of an exodus from the governing principles of Agile. Increasingly, the candidates and practitioners I come into contact with are developing their own form of agile. And with each slight modification and tweak, the practice ever so slightly gets a little further lost in translation.
The conference was a stark reminder to me and the hundreds of attendees, that it’s called a methodology for a reason. Each of the four pillars mentioned above impacts the other, and moreover, the end product.
Examining the “Heart of Agile”
When revisiting the effectiveness of Agile teams, consider how each of the following areas is addressed in your work place. Approach it less as a step-by-step process, and more as an all-encompassing strategy.
Agile teams not only have a physical and/or virtual environment to effectively share ideas, but can trust in one another during this phase. Collaboration is a tool that drives most efforts within a project. Staying in tune with fellow teammates by communicating ideas, working through challenges and providing feedback ensures proper function of teams and product. I’ve noticed many agile practitioners are shying away from this interaction; instead opting to use software tools to collaborate and share. This face-to-face collaboration enables the team to set vital standards and checkpoints. As we move into the next phase, we’ll examine how this trust and collaboration is critical for delivering a sound product and aligning with business objectives.
When you get to the point that you are delivering, you are, in essence, producing something of value, which will hopefully result in income. Conversely, when we fail to deliver, we need to understand our failures and help people evolve in their agile journey. The agile journey should include understanding of technical cost and revenue, as well as the social and business impact of the delivery. It’s during this delivery process that team communication is essential for throughput.
Tunnel vision could be detrimental to any business project; especially when moving quickly through something as complex as development. Practitioners who adopt individual aspects of Agile are not embracing the learning aspect of the full process. It’s during the reflection phase, when the project goals, insights, and results should be measured, tested, and re-evaluated. While personal reflection is beneficial, team reflection ultimately ensures the project is being viewed at by multiple lenses. This reflection period will help the team regroup and focus on the priorities of the project and the members involved.
Continuous quality improvement is conducive to good business. However, the improvement process is where agile shines. This process not only helps with improvements to product, but more importantly improvements to the team. When teams empower themselves to improve they create for themselves long-lasting, productive habits which improve quality and efficiency in the long term. As the strategy of the business expands or becomes more sophisticated, so can the work produced by your teams. Consider that by aligning your agile staffing provider or in-house agile team with your business objectives, you will gain critical insights on the product you are using.
About the author:
Amaan Shariff has been integrated in software development for over 10 years. Amaan started his Agile journey back in 2008 at Restaurant.com as a SME/Business Analyst, where he worked with a teams to help implement agile and launch the first mobile app for the company. Over the years Amaan has held various roles within software development, from forecasting product viability, ensuring product revenue goals to implementation of enterprise level agile projects with various large to midsize companies such as: SAP, Verizon, Hall Mark Services Crop, & Grainger. More recently, Amaan has been a Director of Agile Delivery for the past two years, and manages Yoh's top Agile enterprise-level clients.