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Are Agile Practices Really Important? The Truth.

The importance of agile practices and how they can grow teams both personally and professionally

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With the shift to working remotely having been dramatically accelerated by the effects of COVID-19, businesses are struggling to employ traditional methods of project management.

Former management consultant and partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Kenneth Kramme, Director of KenBusinessDoctor, has over 20 years of experience in delivering successful onsite project management services to global and domestic companies such as Allianz Worldwide Partners, TravelSIM, and the Queensland Government. Passionate about guiding teams and organisations on how to use Agile/Scrum practices and values to delight customers, Ken teaches businesses how to become adept at building trusting environments where problems can be raised and resolved, and lead high-performing teams to stimulate transformational change, improved productivity, and increased profitability. 

Read on for Ken’s guide to the Agile Practices he and his company teach businesses in order to reach their maximum potential.

What are Agile practices?

Agile practices are very different from standard project management and project practices. 

The practices are embedded in a very simple framework of principles, rituals, roles and artefacts. There have been many attempts to re-engineer and detail these into procedures like other project management practices and knowledge domains, but from our experience it’s best to keep it simple and keep the focus on people. In any case, whereas the framework is simple, the challenge is the requirement of self-discipline to implement these practices vigilantly.

The 12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto:

1) Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

2) Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

3) Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

4) Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

5) Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

6) The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team, is face-to-face conversation.

7) Working software is the primary measure of progress.

8) Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

9) Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

10) Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential.

11) The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

12) At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and adjusts their behaviour accordingly.

As you can see, the emphases are very much on people, working software (for IT projects) and simplicity.

Rituals

The main rituals are based upon an agreed base period of time (i.e. called an iteration or sprint). A sprint employs four different scrum ceremonies to ensure proper execution;

  • Sprint planning.
  • Daily scrum. 
  • Sprint review.
  • Sprint retrospective. 

Roles

The primary Agile roles are;

  • Product Owner.
  • Development Team.
  • Scrum master.

Artefacts

The key Agile artefacts (or deliverables) are;

  • Product Backlog.
  • Sprint Backlog.
  • Product Increment.

The key success factors of Agile are to stay focused on people, build in the planned continual prioritisation activities and focus on continual process improvement through utilising feedback loops.

Are they really important?

Increasingly businesses have reported that the old ‘command and control’ and ‘management by surveillance’ practices are not working very effectively with the remote working challenges of COVID-19 and of differing expectations by younger team members who are expecting to be able to contribute more to the organisation. Businesses are needing to challenge the existing processes of marketing, distribution, talent acquisition, etc., and to reinvent more effective procedures in order to be able to adapt and survive. 

The Agile Practices, whether applied to projects or to the organisation as a whole, are very relevant for organisations in responding to change. The benefits of Agile practices are cited to include:

  • Increased visibility of project and business practices.
  • Faster time to market, resulting in higher revenue.
  • Building the right product (which incorporates the recent client requirements).
  • Improved quality (due to catching errors and risks earlier).
  • Increased productivity of teams (including less re-work).
  • More motivated teams.
  • Happy stakeholders (with products/services that meet their expectations). 

Our experience with Agile practices has shown that team members grow more both personally and professionally, as they are expected (and trained) to be multi-functional (i.e. understanding the roles and tasks of others and to work more collaboratively than in other non-agile settings).  

KenBusinessDoctor is the solution to companies seeking dramatic improvements in their customer satisfaction and retention, team morale and team productivity, and faster and higher quality releases of new products and services.

If you wish to learn more about these practices, book your free strategy call with Ken now.

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