The more companies testify to the benefits of implementing the Agile ways of working into their daily life, the more popular and mainstream it grows. It has become the new corporate lifestyle and comfortably found a place in many industries. The positively new mindset manifested in the Agile workflow gives companies that competitive edge that defies traditional project management and methodologies. If you’re not Agile, are you even trying? Organizational transition to Agile makes your business flexible to customer’s needs and requirements. It helps you churn out ready-to-use projects fast without a loss in quality. In fact, with this approach, you can give the clients just what they desire all the while building a strong bond. And, when it comes to team management, it is aimed at nurturing self-sufficient teams with a high level of personal responsibility and commitment to a common cause. Principles and practices to implement your Agile methodology right The efficient implementation of the Agile methodology in the team starts with the understanding that all further practices should be centered around and designed with the right mindset in tow. If your team has already adopted the Agile mindset, you’ll find this part easy. First, you’d want to have set up some of the main keystones based on Agile values and principles: Transparency. The team greatly benefits from being well-informed about the state of the project at any stage of development. Responsiveness to change. Adaptability and flexibility is the essence of Agile. The team needs to remain flexible to any changes that may be requested by the client. Team Collaboration. As many people are involved in the development of the product and there are dependencies that can hinder someone’s work, close collaboration is a must. Improvement loop. One of essential Agile practices is having a continuous feedback loop that allows the team to improve the product upon each iteration by implementing relevant feedback from the client and always keeping the product quality in check. How to implement Agile in a team When you are new to Agile and consider transitioning your team to this new way of working, start by introducing your team to the concepts and help them adjust while you are on your way of Agile implementation. As your team settles in, you may run into some issues and challenges. Most commonly when an issue arises it’s because there is a communication gap somewhere in the team and you’re not properly following the rules that you’ve set for yourself. Here are a few quick tips that will help you address this: Educate the team. Introduce your team to the basic concepts and principles of the Agile iterative process, team roles, events and ceremonies, artifacts and tools to use in their daily work. Define a clear team structure. Understand how your Agile team structure works, clearly define everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Involve the team in creating the Product Backlog, so that they understand the scope of work ahead of them, be realistic in their planning, take into account delivery times and dependencies. Follow Agile values and principles in your work, leverage them for your benefit. Communicate clearly within the team, keep all the processes transparent and support efficient flow of information and knowledge. Anything that’s going on in the team that in any way affects the delivery of the project needs to be communicated and addressed. Whatever blockers or hindrances come up, they need to be sorted immediately to avoid escalation of any issues and failed delivery. Take responsibility. Agile teams are different from traditional ones in the way that they are self-sufficient and don’t require excessive management from the top. As a team member, you should not only be interested in delivering your part of the work. There are dependencies and a lot of collaboration involved. Think about how you are going to deliver the product as a whole and work from there. Improve the process continuously. This is exactly why you hold Retrospective meetings after each sprint. Make good use of this time and dig deep into why your team is performing as it is. Encourage everyone to participate and bring new ideas to the table on how you can improve as a team. Always seek to improve your performance, gain new knowledge and valuable insights, apply new knowledge to your work. Implement feedback loops as an essential part in creating your efficient Agile workflow. You want to receive regular feedback on the completed work and adjust accordingly. It helps make sure that you keep a clear vision of the goal you are pursuing at all times. This way you will know that the team will deliver exactly what the client wants. Choose the right tools. There is an abundance of tools that can accommodate the work of an Agile team and facilitate Agile ceremonies. Pick the ones that work best for you. It’s all in the word. If you want to be Agile, first you’ll have to be agile - in your work and communication, responsibilities and initiatives. Create a team that lives by these same principles and truly commits to what they are doing. So, what do we mean when referring to Agile project management? How do you get on with it? How do you even get started? Let’s explore your options. Scrum and Kanban: The two main Agile frameworks Agile can be regarded as an umbrella term for different frameworks, models and methodologies that have the team work in an iterative way and put a stress on flexibility and frequent delivery. Two of the main Agile frameworks are Scrum and Kanban. Your Agile team can stick to using one framework or combine a few as it suits their work process. In fact, in the State of Agile report 2021 the overwhelming majority of responders, namely 66%, reported using Scrum as their preferred framework and 15% use some combination of Scrum and another model Scrum is your go-to framework if you can expect a lot of change in requirements as the project progresses. It gives a lot of room for change and flexibility with some usable part being delivered every few weeks, or a sprint. At the end of each sprint, the client gets to see some results of the work done and give feedback to be implemented going further.The Kanban framework presents complex information in a visual manner and is focused on evolutionary process improvement. It helps visualize the scope of work and avoid potential bottlenecks by managing the flow and limiting the work in progress. Let’s take a closer look at what the two frameworks constitute and see how your team can implement them to better manage their workflow. Getting started with Scrum: ceremonies and artifacts To have your workflow run smoothly in Agile, the team coordinates its work around Agile ceremonies and artifacts that tend to set the tone for productive team collaboration. Agile artifacts, which inherently belong to the Scrum framework, represent the value that the team commits to create and deliver: Product Backlog. The initial stage of every product development is creating a backlog of tasks that cover the scope of the work to be delivered. As you progress in your work on the project, the product backlog may expand and change, with the ideas being fleshed out reflecting the client feedback. It’s important to be precise in defining the items in the backlog, know the scope of work that needs to be done, and have the project manager set priorities. Sprint Backlog is a list of tasks that the team commits to completing in a sprint. The items are selected from the general Product Backlog. The team sets a goal for the sprint and has an action plan for how to approach the scope of work determined. Achieving the Sprint goal is a team effort and requires everyone to be on board. This means that everyone needs to be aware of their dependencies and focus on avoiding or eradicating blockers and bringing the tasks to completion rather than only keeping your personal to-do list in check. Increment is a single step in achieving the Product goal. Each increment builds up to the entire project. It needs to be usable for the client and provide a certain value. The team may work on multiple Increments within a single sprint, and several Backlog items constitute an Increment. The ceremonies used in Agile are formally organized events purposed for the team to check the progress on the current Increment, detect and address blockers, adapt Scrum artifacts and adjust their processes contained within a sprint. These are the Scrum ceremonies, as follows: Standups are daily Agile meetings that are a check-in point for the team when they can communicate and review the current status of tasks. This is the time to address any blockers or dependencies that need to be accounted for.Sprint Review and Planning are two events in Scrum that are closely correlated. Sprint Planning is when the team picks up the backlog items for the upcoming sprint and determines their goal, whereas Sprint Review is the team reporting on a sprint well-done. Or, more realistically, reporting on any issues that may have come up in the sprint and determining how to avoid them in the future. At this point, Product Backlog may be adjusted. Retrospective meetings are another type of Agile ceremonies held regularly for the whole team. The meeting is aimed at reviewing the team’s performance in the finished sprint, acknowledging what was done right, detecting possible issues and finding solutions to be implemented in the future to improve the team’s output. Getting started with Kanban: ceremonies and artifacts The Kanban system doesn’t generally mandate any specific ceremonies that are characteristic of the framework, but rather uses a customized mixture of ceremonies. Kanban works well when it is used alongside Scrum. It is meant to optimize the flow of work in the value stream, which is done through a set of practices, some of which are the following: Presenting the flow in a visual way. This is done with the aid of a Kanban board, a physical or digital board that helps visualize the scope of work and see the progress on the project at any given moment. The Kanban board is used by moving cards containing items of work through the stages of “To-Do”, “In Progress” and to “Done”. This way, you can see the workload, level of completion, bottlenecks, etc. Limiting the work in process (WIP). This means setting a limit on the number of work items the team is working on at any stage of the project. Limiting WIP allows the team to better manage their workload, detect and mitigate bottlenecks, and complete the tasks faster. Striving to improve the process. As Kanban is used in a fast-paced work environment with rapidly changing priorities, the team will need to continuously improve their processes to keep up with the pace. The team will greatly benefit from using metrics like throughput, lead or cycle time, etc. Implementing a continuous feedback loop. This can be done in the form of meetings (Kanban Cadences) where your client get to share their input regarding the project, areas of concern and see what can be improved. The team then can analyse the input and decide on what steps to take to implement the client feedback. Establishing explicit process policies. A Kanban team should have set rules for their work processes and agree on how to determine if a work item is ready to be moved to the next stage. As you can see, the Kanban methodology in practice has minimal requirements to make it work. Within the Kanban framework, there are no explicitly predefined artifacts. Arguably, some consider an artifact anything that is generated as you are implementing the methodology and there’s some discussion on what is an artifact in Kanban exactly, but the methodology itself doesn’t specifically identify any of such requirements. When it comes to ceremonies, there are no fixed time slots to be used for planning or reviewing tasks and the workflow. There are however Kanban Cadences, a proposed series of meetings at different levels (team level or service-oriented). The team can decide on what cadences will be beneficial to their workflow, organize them regularly or on demand. Having said that, Kanban would fit best a mature team that feels comfortable working with all the flexibility that the framework provides, and in fact benefits from it due to the nature of its work. A Kanban team is a self-sufficient entity that evolves and progresses in its processes organically. Agile tools for successful methodology implementation It may be helpful to use Agile workflow tools to accommodate your team. These can be web applications and services to facilitate efficient team communication, task tracking, file sharing and storage that allows multiple team members to work on files simultaneously. Generally, the team picks a combination of tools and leverages it to get the most out of available functionality and streamline the work processes. Here is a comprehensive list of tools that you might want to consider using for your team. Of course, you may discover that your team prefers something different and stick to that. Jira is a task management tool that is widely used for tracking progress in a sprint. It has a Kanban board where the team can visually show their status with basic workflow states like To Do, In Progress, Under Review, Done. MS SharePoint is a web-based platform for team collaboration that is integrated with MS Office. Google Docs is similar to SharePoint but it’s powered by Google and can be used independently with your already existing Gmail account. Bugzilla is a bug-tracking tool specifically targeted at assisting in the development process, mostly used by test and software engineers Source: the 14 Annual State of Agile Report by Digital AI Even if your team is fully or partially remote, Agile is probably the best model to be chosen for team workflow. Read more about helpful tools and tips for distributed Agile project management. Summary Establishing an Agile development workflow can become the competitive advantage that will help you get more business and increase the satisfaction of your already existing clients. Developing workflow processes with Agile at heart, helped Casumo to get better results through improving collaboration with technical teams and being consistent when delivering value to the customer. With the integrated Agile in practice, the teams are able to create a product that hits just the right spot when it comes to customer’s needs and wants and they do it fast. If you want to follow the lead and turn your team Agile, consider inviting an expert to provide Agile implementation consultancy and mentoring to help you get the processes going and support you through the transitional period. You may find yourself at the start of an exciting journey that will eventually come to change the core essence of the way you work. It takes only a few days or weeks to establish the Agile process but it takes months or even years to master it and make the team fluent in operating within it. But once you’ve got it, you’ll never want to go back.