When considering a move to an agile approach, there may be skepticism in your organization. After all, change can be hard, and teams need to understand the benefits of changing the way they work. If you have explored agile development and want to convince your team to give it a try, it helps if you can point out the benefits of making the change. Here are five reasons your team should consider an agile approach to development.
1. Higher customer satisfaction through increased collaboration.
Ensure the customer is engaged throughout the entire process – not just requirements gathering at the beginning and testing at the end. They give input to product development and have regular opportunities every few weeks to see what is being developed. The customer gives frequent feedback to the team and takes more ownership of the product being developed.
2. Faster value delivery.
The team, in partnership with the customer, identifies what components of the product will deliver value to the customer fastest. The team then focuses on delivering that as soon as possible. Rather than doing all the development, and not delivering the product to the customer until everything is complete, the team delivers value in increments. This gets usable software into the hands of the customer faster. It also increases customer trust in the development team, knowing that work is progressing and that they are getting value faster.
3. Focus on business value.
The customer works with the team to prioritize features. The customer shares what is most important, and the team can then focus on providing that business value as soon as possible. The conversation focuses more on where the value lies for the customer. This is not to say that other important items are neglected (such as non-functional requirements), but the team focuses on what will provide the highest amount of business value.
4. Improved quality.
Agile teams demo working software often and are able to catch and correct problems early. Since the teams deliver features frequently, the team integrates and tests frequently. Teams also write test cases before writing the code (test driven development), and this helps build in quality. Teams also continually explore ways to improve through frequent retrospectives. The mindset of quality and continuous improvement is a part of the agile mindset.
5. Increased adaptability.
Agile teams are better able to adjust to change as needed. Agile teams work in short sprints. Even though they have an understanding of the longer-range vision of the product, planning and development is done in shorter cycles. The team develops a component of the product, shows it to the customer, and adjusts based on need or feedback. Many waterfall projects need to go through elaborate change management processes to make any change to a project plan. Moreover, those changes often are not known until much later in the project. Agile teams, on the other hand, expect that there will be changes. The team and the customer will learn and adapt when needed as the product is developed.
As you can see, there are many reasons that an agile approach can be beneficial to your team. The transition may not be easy, and everyone might not be on board at first. However, if you can demonstrate the ways it can be valuable for both the development team and customer, the team may be more likely to give it a try.
You don’t have to take it all on at once. You can adopt a few agile practices to give the team a feel for it at first. Your team can conduct daily stand-up meetings or do regular customer demos. You may find you can get some value from adopting a few agile practices to get a feel for it before jumping all in. You will likely find you get more acceptance and buy-in to the idea as your team sees the many benefits.
Leigh Espy, PMP, SPC, CSM, is the author of “Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to Run Meetings That Are Effective, Focused, and Produce Results.” She has over 15 years of project management experience with a primary focus on IT project management and has led multimillion dollar international projects and corporate strategy initiatives. Leigh also coaches and mentors project managers and those making a move to a project management career. You can find out more about Leigh at ProjectBliss and LeighEspy.com. Leigh writes about communication and project methodologies.