Businesses in every sector are adopting agile – a method of working, introduced by software professionals, which promises improved efficiency, engagement and flexibility. But what are the guiding principles of agile? And how can you make its methodologies work for you?
To find out, we’re taking a comprehensive look at agile, from how it works to its benefits and principles. We’ll also be shining a light on three popular agile methodologies, including Scrum, Kanban and Lean, so you can get to grips with what they offer in practice.
- What is Agile?
- What Are the Benefits of Agile?
- The Core Principles of Agile
- Three Agile Methodologies and How They Work
Agile refers to workplace methodologies in which solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organising, multi-functional teams. It prioritises iterative working, with a focus on adaptability, involvement and unified processes.
Agile is best explained when comparing it to the traditional ‘waterfall’ methodology. Whereas the waterfall approach is linear and sequential, with a rigid timeline for a singular project, agile favours a non-linear workflow whereby projects are broken down into deliverable pieces – often referred to as a ‘time-boxed’ approach.
The agile method emerged from software development, after engineers sought to free themselves from out-dated practices and adopt a more flexible, rapid approach to innovation. Its success has seen it embraced by a broad range of industries and functions, with businesses in every sector keen to reap the benefits of this new operational structure.
Agile affords benefits for businesses in all sectors, particularly when it comes to stakeholder satisfaction and workplace engagement. Below, we look at a handful of benefits you can expect when embracing agile methodologies.
- Flexibility – the bite-sized nature of agile gives you the opportunity to reprioritise tasks in line with end-user demand. Having the ability to adjust workflows ad hoc can speed up project timelines and increase customer satisfaction, whilst avoiding hurdles which threaten to slow the momentum of the project.
- Involvement – agile allows for optimum involvement from inter-disciplinary team members, senior-level staff, key stakeholders and customers. This ensures continuous engagement, increased satisfaction and rapid project completion.
- Adaptability – one of the principal benefits of agile is augmented adaptability. Whether as a result of feedback, resource or strategy changes, teams are flexible and reactive – improving workflow efficiency.
- Higher rate of satisfaction – because agile allows for greater engagement and feedback at every stage of the project, there’s a higher probability of client satisfaction, as well as a user-friendly, ticks-all-the-boxes product or service.
We’ve covered the basics of what agile is and how it can benefit your business, but what are the core facets which guide such methodologies? To help steer your organisation towards new ways of working, here are the core principles which form the basis of agile.
- Teamwork – agile leans on inter-disciplinary teams who work collaboratively to achieve project goals and outcomes. The methodology is reliant on individuals coming together to complete project milestones, with each completed task taking the project closer to completion.
- Time boxing – these individual, bite-sized tasks are referred to as ‘time boxes’ – small, manageable jobs tasked to one team member at a time. Depending on the project, each time box might go to two or more team members as it’s moved towards completion.
- Involvement – the nature of agile methodologies ensures there are many opportunities for stakeholder and inter-team involvement, which can both speed up project completion and ensure any problems are resolved at an early stage.
- Lean development – the point of agile is to carry a project to completion as simply and rapidly as possible; we call this lean development. Through collaboration and engagement, teams are encouraged to quantify their actions, seek innovation, and solve problems to cut superfluous processes and speed up completion times.
- Adaptability – one of the key attributes of agile is the capacity to change and adjust project deliverables as you go, for faster and more efficient project delivery.
- Testing – increased collaboration and stakeholder input improves testing at the ‘in progress’ stage, increasing the likelihood that the product or service will meet the requirements when it’s as marked as complete.
As agile has sped into the mainstream of practicable business methodologies, several models have emerged as the most popular solutions across a range of industries. Let’s take a look at three such methodologies to find out how they work and the benefits they offer.
Agile Methodology 1: Scrum
What is the Scrum Methodology?
Scrum is an agile methodology which seeks to deliver project milestones in as short a timescale as possible. It relies on a time-boxing model, whereby elements of a project are broken up into succinct deliverables called ‘sprints’, which the whole team works on simultaneously.
What Are the Benefits of the Scrum Methodology?
The Scrum model offers several benefits to agile teams, including:
- Reduced project lead times
- High productivity
- High team member engagement
- Improved end-user satisfaction
Who Can Use the Scrum Methodology?
Scrum is among the most popular agile working models, used across multiple industries. It suits inter-disciplinary teams of three or more, with each individual responsible for completing their assigned ‘sprints’ within the project timeline.
Agile Methodology 2: Kanban
What is the Kanban Methodology?
Kanban is a popular agile framework which focuses on real-time collaboration and full transparency to steer projects towards completion. The methodology relies on a collaborative Kanban board, which allows teams to see the status of every task within a project timeline.
What are the Benefits of the Kanban Methodology?
- High productivity
- Increased collaboration
- Complete project visibility and transparency
- Shortened time cycles and project lead time
- Reduced project bottlenecks and obstacles
- Clear route to completion
Who Can Use the Kanban Methodology?
The Kanban methodology is the most prevalent agile working model; in fact, many businesses may have adopted this type of project management without knowingly moving to agile working practices. The model is accessible and suitable for most businesses, with tools like Trello and Jira offering a ready-made platform for Kanban adoption.
Agile Methodology 3: Lean
What is the Lean Methodology?
The Lean methodology is an agile way of working which seeks to optimise people, resources, workflows and processes, with a view to improving customer value and satisfaction. It relies on the so-called ‘Continuous Improvement Cycle’, whereby constant innovations and improvements are implemented to eliminate waste, reduce lead times, and augment value streams.
What are the Benefits of the Lean Methodology?
- Optimised resources – perfect for small, inter-disciplinary teams
- Reduced project lead times
- Shortened workflow cycles for increased team member engagement and productivity
- Transforms tired working practices into considered, value-add processes
Who Can Use the Lean Methodology?
The Lean methodology was first introduced in the manufacturing sector, as businesses looked to remove superfluous processes, curb waste and reduce time to market. It has since been embraced by countless other industries, who see it as a common-sense way to attain maximum value from their workforce while ensuring employee engagement and high levels of customer satisfaction.
So, there you have it, a comprehensive look at agile working methodologies and how they can benefit your operation. At JS3 Global, our specialists can help your business grow by leveraging the latest software and applications, offering impartial and independent advice on ERP software adoption. For more information, visit the homepage or call us on +44(0)161 503 0866.