We tend to throw around the term “Digital Transformation” so casually.
That’s because the entire world is going through Digital Transformation, and the pandemic has only hastened its pace.
Though businesses have been going through Digital Transformation for years now, that’s not to say it’s an easy process. Choosing the right set of technology and tools and, most importantly, trusting your employees to work from the comfort of their homes were all instances of utmost struggle.
Nonetheless, business owners are now more open to taking risks when upgrading their digital assets. Most major enterprises have stuck around to a remote or hybrid working policy despite relaxation.
Remote working and sharing products and services is the need of the hour.
However, you stumbling upon this article might agree when we say that teams achieving high productivity levels without seeing each other and communicating over the desk remains a challenge.
That’s where the need for Agile comes in. Agile methodologies paired with competent software development helps teams become more self-organized and functional within themselves. Going Agile will help your business deliver services faster, with better quality and flexibility for unforeseen change.
Let’s take a closer look at what Agile has to offer.
What does Agile Entail?
The Agile framework entails a vast number of technologies such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), Lean Development e Crystal
Scrum has become one of the most commonly used technology due to its:
- Lightweight process – This means that the technology is relatively simple for employees to understand, so they can focus on getting more important work done.
- Increased productivity – As Scrum copes better with change, it’s more likely to deliver higher quality deliverables and provide better predictability in less time.
Since Scrum is the most widely used technology or ‘framework’ under Agile, in this article, let’s understand Agile through its lens.
Whether it be any technology under Agile, it typically consists of a Delivery Manager, a Product Owner, and the Teams. Take a closer look at each of these roles below
The Delivery Manager, Flow Master or ScrumMaster (for Scrum), handles the vital job of ensuring the project is running smoothly; teams are organized through regular interval checks and track progress. The Delivery Manager needs to understand the technology such as Scrum or Kanban to the core. As they’ll only be able to assist other members of the Team if they know it thoroughly. A Delivery Manager is in charge of:
- Keeping track of the Team’s progress and ensuring they are able to meet all deadlines.
- Bringing people on the same page, encouraging teamwork, and colluding team ideas to get structure to creativity.
- Clearing the way for any possible obstacles the Team may be facing to accelerate productivity.
- Help the Product Owner to understand how to use the dedicated technology to meet the set targets.
To summarize, the Delivery Manager will be held responsible if the targeted goals and deadlines are not met on time. Thus, all their responsibilities become centered around identifying any barriers or blockages from ongoing progress and removing them from sight. Though the Delivery Manager’s role is supervision, ironically, the better they can perform his duties, the less supervision his Team would inevitably require.
The Product Owner is the single point of contact when it comes to deciding whether the product features and implementations are superior enough in quality to be delivered. The Product Owner sets the benchmarks and organizes the Team to achieve them. In other words, they single-handedly deal with the clientele and communicate their needs to their Team on the other hand. Here is precisely what is expected of them:
- When receiving bug-fix requests from many sources, they are responsible for distributing them amongst the Team.
- Briefing the Team and Delivery Manager of product requirements and their updates.
- Maintaining a “Product Backlog” which is a factual document of all the standard requirements and the progress as it is happening.
- Discussing deadlines with the customers and informing the Delivery Manager so they can escalate the Team towards them.
- They also make the final call on whether the execution of work is of the expected quality to leave the room.
Although we may seem we’re at the end of the ladder, here lies where the most competent set of individuals carry out the necessary development and testing of the product.
Though the Team may receive instructions from the Delivery Manager and Product Owners regarding bug fixes, deadlines, and requirement updates, they essentially handle their work independently. The individuals that work in this Team usually take the responsibility of distributing their work among themselves.
Contrary to an authoritative leader who assimilates work between Team members, these members understand their strengths and weaknesses to break down their tasks better and distribute them among themselves.
Here are a Few Pointers to Making a Functioning Team:
- Keeping Team members between 5 to 9 for more accessible communication. Large Teams have a more challenging time passing information along, leading to discrepancies and errors.
- Although Team is a term used for many individuals that develop the product, they can be divided into sub-teams, with each Team given an important agenda to work upon.
- Teams should meet at regular intervals arranged by the Delivery Manager to communicate and to present each other with any feedback.
What are User-Stories?
Although it isn’t a role performed under any Agile technologies, it is still worth mentioning due to its unique organizational relevance.
User-Stories are essentially the work divided amongst each Team, noted down on a piece of paper or software. The key is that each User-Story must make a relevant and unique contribution to the overall product.
These User-Stories become key tangible indicators of what a Team is working on. These information placards are a great way to see how each Team and their User-story is progressing visually. Depending on how the work is moving along, these placards (online or offline) can be moved around.
Thus, they become an essential asset in scheduling and decision-making.
What then is the “Agile” approach to Digital Transformation?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, Agile is the ability to move quickly and easily. Keeping this in mind, the Agile Manifesto was drafted in 2001 by seventeen independent software practitioners.
Together with the Product Owner, Delivery Manager, and Teams – with their independent User-Stories – help to accomplish the following approaches:
Customer Service is a priority. Each delivery must be better than the last.
Instead of delivering value with the end goal in mind (which often leads to a hit-and-miss approach), Teams should focus on increasing value incrementally through each delivery.
Accept the change of requirements, even at the later stage of development.
While traditional methods often resist any changes while the product development is in its later stage, Agile does the opposite. The Agile approach is adaptable to change at any stage. The client is always satisfied by learning something from the customer through each delivery meeting and making small incremental changes. Even if they change requirements last minute, they are not as drastic because the Team kept an eye out for it the entire time.
Deliver working software at regular intervals.
Instead of delivering one gigantic piece of the finished product, which might not be as open to change, the Agile framework offers “working” bits of software. This way, the client can always tap in any new insights along the way.
Frequent meetings between the business people and developers
This is called the “Sprint Review” in Scrum or replenishment meetings in other Agile frameworks. The stakeholders don’t just assign a project to the developers but encounter it only at its later finish stage. Instead, they frequently visit the developers so they are clear of any misunderstandings about the project.
Motivate individuals and trust them to get the work done.
Leaders focus on delivering their Team with the necessary tools, resources, work culture, external processes, and people to ensure their success. Then, they back off and let them do their work. One doesn’t need to run a ‘controlling’ management style as long as they work towards the set goals. Trust is key.
Accepting face-to-face conversation as the most efficient form of communication
Whether through Zoom or Google Meets, face-to-face conversation is a much better form of collaboration than emailing or messaging back and forth. It could be within the Teams or between customer and Product Owner interactions.
The delivery of a working product is the only measure of success
When it comes to Agile, success isn’t about sticking to a plan or measuring the percentage of work that is done. It’s about how well the customer admires the final product. Customer review is the correct measure of success.
The Agile process focuses on sustainable steps toward the end goal
When a deadline is far in the future, employees become lazy and do most of the work near the finish line of the product. This is not the Agile way of working. The Agile process is about dividing the work into a sustainable and equivalent number of steps.
Paying attention to technical excellence and design every step of the way
Whether it’s through regular code reviews or continuously keeping a tab on security standards, ensuring high-quality delivery at the end of the project is possible only by paying attention to each milestone diligently.
It’s vital to focus on what’s valuable first
Instead of focusing on all the possible requirements that will be needed in the future, driving the Team’s attention to the valuable thing to do next can eliminate waste in the long run.
Self-organizing teams develop the best-finished product in terms of architectural design and technical excellence
Giving the Team enough creative control over the product they are developing motivates them to do their best. That’s why self-organizing Teams deliver the best products.
Deliberating its effectiveness at regular intervals
A great Team gives value to everything, even its shortcomings. This has a major role to play in the efficiency of the Team and their collaboration with each other in the long run.
What are the Benefits of Going Agile?
When it comes to going Agile, there are benefits for everyone that is involved. Let’s take a look at receiving end of all the roles:
Benefits to the Customer
Customers receive more high-end work at shorter time periods and the vendor is more responsive to changes and mid-cycle requests.
Benefits to the Team
When Team members submit more often, they have more chances of receiving appreciation. And because they are trusted to work and communicate independently amongst themselves, they feel valued.
Benefits to the Vendor
Vendors don’t have to go through wastage since they’ve always focused on what’s valuable first. This also results in increased team efficiency, which helps in customer retention and improved customer satisfaction.
Benefits to Product Manager
The Product Manager is the single point of contact between the Customers and their development Team. Nonetheless, the Agile framework ensures regular check-ins, communication, and self-organizing Teams, which takes an excess load off the Product Manager.
Benefits to External Stakeholders and C-level Executives
The Agile framework gives plenty of transparency to the External Stakeholders and C-level Executives in a project. They can use this transparency to adjust their transparency and offer suggestions to revise the product and better align it with their business goals.
That’s it, folks!
The Agile Framework started from the point of helping software development firms better collaborate within themselves as well as their customers.
Due to its tremendous success rate, it has slowly made its way across various avenues such as marketing, HR, and defense. Want to set up your business for success? Then going Agile is a sure-shot way of focusing on what truly matters: customer service.
The answer is: go Agile.