How to Get the Most Out of AGILE

How to Get the Most Out of AGILE

Andy Holland

Since its inception in 2001, AGILE has become an important and widely used method of managing IT development projects and teams. If the team and the company are small, AGILE development can be a simple, fast and cheap approach. If however the team and the company are large, new challenges will complicate AGILE development. If you follow this methodology here are some fantastic tips to get the best from your teams, meetings and projects, regardless of the size of your operation.

Make Scrum Meetings Valuable

Scrum meetings are great, but can easily turn into “one of those” meetings where nothing moves forward, and the entire affair has no value.

To avoid that:

Ask more – In addition to the three statements “yesterday, I completed…”, “today, I will…” and, “the things blocking my progress are…” also ask: “how confident are you that you will get it done today”.

People often complete the third statement saying they have no blocks, only to seconds later admit that they are only 50% sure of that. If team members have been reporting no impediments for a while, but work hasn’t been moving along as fast as it should, this can be a good approach.

Stick to the 15 minute limit: If meetings take over 15 minutes people can get bored and are then likely to feel the meeting adds no any value for them.

Start and end the meeting on time: Don’t delay starting a meeting because someone can’t make it or is running late. Nothing says this meeting is important more than starting on time. The chances are, if team members miss the start of one meeting, they will ensure they are on time in future!

Say thank you: When a colleague has helped you, acknowledge it. This is one of the simplest, most effective methods of building a good rapport with team members.

Stand up! Standing helps people focus for short and high-energy meetings such as the daily scrum.

Don’t Be Afraid to Defer

Whilst the above tips are ways to ensure scrum meetings are valuable, sometimes there are things that need to be addressed that do not fit within the parameters of the scrum. Use a parking lot (a flip chart or section of whiteboard) to note those topics down. Address them right after the daily scrum; allow team members add items. By doing this, you will address everything that needs to be dealt with, but maintain focus within the scrum.

Use Common Vocabulary

Set up a common vocabulary and standard rules to be used by every workgroup. Phrases such as the ‘definition of done’ should be clearly defined: what does this mean, what is expected?

Use Team Metrics

Using team-based metrics (to track team and workgroup performance) will make it clear that people need to work as a team, rather than just show individual productivity. Individual roles and responsibilities need to be clearly outlined; team goals and time frames must allow for no ambiguity, to ensure that every individual fulfils their required role within the structure of the team.

Without a doubt, when used well, AGILE is a fantastic approach, but the key is in the name, sometimes you will need to actually BE agile to get the most from it!