Using agile methodology can help small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) to be more agile and responsive to market trends, and IT administrators can help to make this happen. The use of agile processes comes from the software development arena, but these processes have proven to be useful in helping businesses become better organized and able to meet market demands.

Using Agile Methodology to Enhance Business AgilityAgile development methodology is particularly useful in helping businesses to speed up the development of products and services that meet users’ needs. With many of these products and services delivered online, agile processes can also help IT administrators organize teams to get things done.

Agile vs. Waterfall

In the past, many IT teams used the waterfall method, which meant that detailed planning cycles preceded any development. There were also reams of documentation for each project. Unlike the usual development process, the agile development method relies on reducing red tape so planning can happen quickly. It also means that there is greater focus on functionality rather than on documenting every step. The Agile Manifesto, created by software developers, lists the following priorities:

  • “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”
  • “Working software over comprehensive documentation”
  • “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”
  • “Responding to change over following a plan”

Agile Processes for IT Teams

IT teams can use these processes successfully to meet their deliverables for internal clients, such as implementing a social business or business analytics project. Agile teams are generally self-organizing, deciding for themselves on the best way to achieve the overall priority and setting their own internal milestones. The agile approach features a constant cycle of planning, followed by testing and feedback, integrating changes, and further development. Teams handle this themselves, while project managers streamline communication (regular communication is at the core of the agile framework) between development teams and their clients, whether these are internal or external. This contrasts with the top down approach typical of waterfall processes.

Agile Processes and Functionality

There are several types of agile development – Extreme Programming, Lean Development and Scrum are popular – but they all share these features. The agile production cycle makes it easier for IT teams and the businesses they serve to deliver regular product and service updates to customers. Even if products are incomplete, they are functional. An agile approach also means that if market requirements change, the teams are flexible enough to incorporate changes into their work flow.

How SMBs Benefit
Using agile development processes results in clear benefits for small and midsize businesses. IT administrators who use these methodologies can help businesses to be more responsive to customer and market needs, without being held back by inflexible delivery methods and processes. In turn, this helps businesses achieve a positive effect on competitiveness, revenue, and overall business agility.

Image source: Scott Maxwell