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Checklist to Agile Organizational Transformation

Agile project management methodologies are prevalent across industries as organizations recognize the benefits of dexterity and iteration. Is your organization ready to take part in the Agile transformation? We’ve compiled four tips for consideration as you think through moving your organization to Agile.

Agile Methodologies:

Four popular agile methodologies to apply, based on your organization’s unique circumstances include extreme programming (XP), lean, scrum, and Kanban.

Tip 1: Don’t Start with a Tool
The software selection process, while often an exciting process for organizations, is not the place for Agile transformation to begin.

Instead of starting your organization’s agile journey by considering a tool, focus your attention on defining your requirements. By first defining your goals and processes, you enter the tool selection process with strong selection criteria to make the best possible decision for your organization. The right tool makes it unnecessary to mold your current processes and procedures to a specific tool’s functionality.

Tip 2: Be Firm in Your Convictions
When considering a transition to Agile, an initial step, one that often leads to future success, is to develop a list of guiding principles. Here are a few examples of guiding principles from The Manifesto for Agile Software Development:

  • We value individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • We value customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • We value response to change over following a plan.

These guiding principles are critical for a few reasons:

  1. Agility is as much about cultural practices as it is about methodology. Guiding principles make it easier to manage change and build organizational buy-in. The guiding principles should be clear statements that can be built into your workplace culture.
  2. Broad guiding principles leave room for your employees to operate independently within the context of your organization’s goals. (More on this in Tip #3.)

Tip 3: Empower Your Team
The best Agile practitioners understand that real agility comes from teams that self-organize, self-regulate, and emphasize individual responsibility. Although an Agile Sprint may be planned as a group, high-performing Agile teams leave the details and the execution to the proper resources. The team, having jointly agreed on the requirements (user stories) and the overall goal (the product), will be empowered to solve the challenge at hand creatively – without jeopardizing the project.

An empowered team is what makes your Agile implementation work. Make sure your team understands your goal and what to do when roadblocks challenge the ability to realize your goal. Agile implementations succeed when all team members are active problem solvers and rely on each other for creative solutions.

Tip 4: Fail Fast and Embrace Agility
Agility is about responding to change, not reacting to it. Someone who is acting as a responder views failure as an opportunity to learn and be better. They expect their initial assumptions to change and plan accordingly. Failing fast means not getting hung up on solutions that don’t meet requirements; instead, teams should find the lesson, adjust their plan moving forward, and expect more fine-tuned iteration in the future. The concept of agility powers all of these business processes. Agility requires the expectation of change, a fail-fast-to-learn-fast mentality, and having the right team in place to handle shifting priorities.

If your team has fully embraced agility, it will take its guiding principles to heart, thrive with a tool tailored to your organization’s specific practices, and iterate its way to success upon realizing the value of an agile mindset.

Conclusion
Agile project management can be transformative for organizations. Quality of work, efficiency metrics, customer satisfaction, and employee morale all have the potential to increase when Agile project management is done effectively. Agile methodology is a means to help you achieve your goals, unlock creativity, and make your team more efficient. If you’d like help implementing Agile with your organization, contact our team.

About the Author

Brian Banta is a Project Manager for KSM Consulting. Brian works with clients to ensure the successful project initiation, execution, control, and delivery of projects. Connect with him on LinkedIn.