In the State of Agile’s 14th Annual Survey, 95% of respondents agree to the use of agile in their organization. The majority of them work in the technology sector, followed by finance, government, and insurance. Agile is branching out to transform industries that have rigid processes.
New economy startups & enterprises thrive on quick outcomes. Business performance depends on accelerating the decision-making process. Agile management delivers on the promise of making organizations efficient and flexible.
At first, agile looks like common sense. Build products and make changes on the go. However, it’s not the standard operating model. Even modern companies follow a linear methodology of product development. But the business dynamics change at a whim – and products are only as relevant as the demand.
The agile methodology works in increments, called “sprints.” Every next sprint comes with a set of iterations. It comprises client feedback, market opportunities, and development understanding. The process leads to faster MVP development.
This article will focus on the strategic approaches to agile management.
Table of Contents
- Agile in the new economy
- Staying flexible with agile
- Cultivating the agile mindset
- Dealing with changing requirements
- Failing faster in product development
- Myths about agile projects
Agile in the New Economy
Agile is the brain-child of seventeen software developers. In 2001, they compiled 12 agile principles in the Agile Manifesto that organizations use today (See, agile manifesto).
Technology drives new economy companies. Software products and IT solutions remain at the forefront of business growth. They focus on innovation and collaboration. Incorporating agile implies the company is prepared to answer the industry changes.
New economy startups & enterprises do not stop at product launch. Improvements are inevitable. Through agile, these companies can iterate, improve, and relaunch in the fastest time possible. Every sprint in agile focuses on a form of improvement. It could be an additional feature, reduction in lines of code, existing feature enhancements, etc.
Therefore, agile acts as a continuum – a process for product improvement. Each sprint delivers a fresh perspective on the existing product. Consider this – each “sprint” in agile is a project in itself. It has its own planning, design, development, testing, and launch. This is the closest thing to an MVP.
Today, the survival of products depends on their adaptability to customer needs. We are not in the “Ford Generation” anymore – where products were made first and sold to the market. We are in the new economy – where only those products sell that the market makes (Market, here, connotes to the changing customer needs).
Staying Flexible with Agile
Agile is a collaborative approach. So, flexibility may seem challenging. How can collaborative teams be flexible when everyone has different perspectives?
Collaboration is the cornerstone of agile success. It includes the clients in the process of product development. The waterfall methodology was linear and rigid – the client was only involved once the product was built. The changes cost heavily as the process needs to be repeated.
Simple flexibility comes with agile. Clients know the process from the beginning. They review the product after each sprint. They recommend the changes, features, strategies, and more. Flexibility in development becomes a standard with agile. How?
- Cross-functional and self-organizing teams that take product ownership.
- Project breakdown into chunks, leading to faster change management.
- Incorporation of late developments in the project with proper planning.
- String communication and collaboration between agile teams & client.
- Changing backlogs in the next iteration, resulting in quick development.
Agile teams know where to upscale and downscale. The collaborative approach eases flexible development. Developers can make changes and adapt to new project requirements. With changing needs, relocation of resources also becomes easier. If the customer-centric requirements vary, teams become flexible to respond quickly to those changes.
Cultivating the Agile Mindset
In the same survey by the State of Agile, the biggest challenge of agile adoption was “General Organization Resistance to Change.” Most enterprises often face a conflict of mindset when implementing agile. The traditional approach delves deep into the organizational culture.
These conflicts mostly arise from middle management. While agile leaders are ready with the plan, managers resist change. Self-interest comes into play. The years of conventional thinking breeds the idea of benefitting oneself.
With agile, collaboration becomes a necessity. Managers are as involved as developers. Whether it’s the Product Manager or Scrum Master – everyone is subject to accountability of results. The agile mindset may seem like losing or distribution of control. Not a good sign!
Here’s an infographic that explains how to cultivate the agile mindset in new economy startups & enterprises.
Functional and managerial-level employees will show resistance to agile. A culture of flexibility comes with some resistance. Mindful adoption will take time. However, articulating the benefits of collaborative teams will drive faster cultivation of the agile mindset.
Test projects are excellent for introducing agile. Training the staff in agile methods through on-the-job training is much better than making them read about agile. The primary aim is to develop a maturity where development teams can handle failure with courage.
Dealing with Changing Requirements
Agile primarily focuses on dealing with changing requirements. But many enterprises mistake it for unplanned, spontaneous change-induced methodology. Organizations whose success depends on serving the dynamic market requirements must understand the biggest flaw – changing requirements aren’t frequent.
|Requirements can change anytime
in the sprint
|Requirements must stay fixed for
|Teams must be ready for
|Teams must focus on the initial planning and be prepared to adapt
|Evaluations occur without announcements
|Evaluations occur at the end of the sprint
|Agile goes within the project
|Agile goes with the project
Agile goes within the project means that it governs every micro activity. When agile goes with the project, it ensures wider governance – projects & strategies are flexible with changing scope after each iteration.
Enterprises shouldn’t change requirements in an ongoing sprint. That would lead to chaos. Nothing good will come out of it. Changing the features when other assessments are due in the sprint will leave the activity unattended.
Therefore, dealing with changing requirements involves considering sprints as a whole. Each sprint should be treated as a separate project that must follow a linear trajectory. Only then will agile perform to its potential.
Failing Faster in Product Development
Agile ensures you fail faster. New economy startups & enterprises must take it as a good sign. Agile methodology helps in achieving product development efficiencies. Iterations are quicker, and so are product releases.
However, agile also saves a lot of wasted time. With products launching in the market, companies fail faster. They can understand what isn’t working after every release. Every following sprint comprises and works upon the failures of the last release.
Once companies reach a stage where sprints aren’t working anymore, failing becomes inevitable. At that stage, the agile team can work on new products. Unlike waterfall, where failure or success could only be assessed after the final product is delivered, agile takes a different approach.
The incremental approach showcases where the product stands at each stage. When enterprises fail faster, they build better products. Teams experiment much quicker than before. They have diverse opportunities to implement changes. For companies to survive and thrive, failing faster is a blessing in disguise.
It’s a challenge related to the culture of agile adoption. Since team members are not sure whether products will work, they don’t want their efforts to waste. But the faster they fail, the better they will improve on the next process. It is a learning experience for growing enterprises.
Myths about Agile Projects
Agile adoption is still relative. It might be in its infancy or initial stages. Companies are experimenting a lot. Opinions have taken the place of facts. Agile Manifesto is a guide for implementation – not a factbook. It gives rise to several myths about the methodology.
Here are the three major myths about agile projects:
- Agile and Scrum are the Same
Not at all. Scrum is a framework for agile implementation. Agile is the philosophy that makes Scrum work. The framework is useful for complex products in software development.
- Projects Don’t Require Planning
A significant myth is that agile has no need for planning. But every sprint requires careful planning. The plan forms the foundation for each iteration. Flexibility occurs with activity and execution – the plan remains the same. Without a goal, no one would know where the product has to go and what the team has to achieve.
- No Sprint Backlog
In fact, a primary feature of agile implementation is sprint backlog. All the work doesn’t need to fit in a sprint – it possibly can’t. Whether it’s a feature or a bug, each sprint has backlog activities. Working upon them happens after the client’s assessment and feedback.
Agile principles, their implementation, and management require encouragement. Leaders can develop uncertainty about agile without proper understanding. However, when they assess carefully, agile is already a part of their organization.
Flexible and incremental approaches to software development have always been there. Agile principles provide the right assistance for such product development. Agile is a continuous process of improvement – because software development never ends.
Adoption of agile for new economy startups is a necessity. Dynamic markets, frequently changing customer needs, and stiff competition require startups and enterprises to be faster, collaborative, and cost-efficient. Agile is the way to achieve that.