It’s common to feel as though the more we stick to an intricate plan, the more efficient that it will be to complete. However, when it comes to managing a team, balance is everything.
Over-engineering a project and enforcing a rigid workflow can seriously stifle your process and hinder efficiency, while too much flexibility can lead to your team feeling directionless and unmotivated. Fortunately, an agile workflow can help you to create a balanced and successful team that gets things done efficiently.
What Is an Agile-Driven Team Workflow?
An agile-driven team workflow is a solution to the inflexibility of more traditional project management methodologies. The waterfall workflow model, for example, is a linear, sequential approach to workflows, where each phase in a project is rigidly mapped, with no phase beginning until the previous one is finished.
And this works – sometimes. However, from both a client and company perspective, it’s often not possible to see the end goal of a project. Projects frequently undergo changes as things begin to take shape, which, for a team following a waterfall model, would mean significant change in processes. As you can imagine, this usually results in a lot of wasted time and resources.
An agile workflow is designed to support new requirements. It focuses on continuously delivering small tasks – often called agile sprints – to clients within iterations. Iterations are short timeboxes of around one or two weeks, after which the task is delivered and feedback from the client is received.
Delivering projects within an agile-driven workflow increases their transparency, eliminating bottlenecks and allowing teams to respond to changes quickly.
Agile Workflow Techniques
When it comes to designing agile-driven task management for teams, it’s best practice to use established agile frameworks as a foundation. However, because agile workflows embrace flexibility, there’s no need to rigidly follow any particular framework – just pick out the techniques that align with your team’s goals.
Scrum is a popular agile framework that is centered around continuous improvement. Daily scrums – quick meetings at the beginning of the day – are held to give team members a chance to discuss the day’s upcoming sprints. Each team member is given a clear objective for the rest of the day, enabling them to stay focused and on-task.
Sprints are usually delivered to the client within iterations, and feedback is given promptly enough for changes to be made within schedule.
The Kanban framework is also a popular choice, particularly for those who benefit from visual representations of workflows and embrace agency in their projects.
Unlike Scrum, Kanban is non-iterative. It’s comprised of a board that manages team activity through a list of prioritized tasks called a product backlog. Generally speaking, the board is split into three separate columns, titled: “To do”, “In progress”, and “Done”. Team members take a prioritized task from the to-do column and move it to the “in progress” column. Let’s take a look at the example below.
Kanban boards give managers full transparency of a project’s progress, from the task each colleague is working on to its stage of completion. They’re also useful for detecting task dependencies and potential constraints before they can hinder efficiency.
Establishing an Agile-Driven Team Workflow
The implementation of your workflow is just as important as its design. So, how do you establish an agile-driven team workflow?
Build an Agile-Minded Team
Agile-driven workflows have many advantages, but they’re certainly not for everyone. When you’re hiring for an agile team, take the time to look past candidates’ resumes and analyze their work styles. Can they work collaboratively? Do they have a flexible, open-minded approach to projects with the ability to change course with each task? If not, they might struggle with an agile workflow.
Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities
It’s an easy task to overlook, but when team members are unsure of their roles and responsibilities within a team or a project, it can lead to miscommunication, overlap, and even team conflict.
Due to their increased independence, agile team members are particularly susceptible to the dips in productivity that this confusion can provoke, so always make sure to clearly establish roles at the beginning of each project.
Oversee Each Phase of Team Development
Your newly-assembled agile team won’t be perfect straight away. It is your job to ensure that your team progresses smoothly into a successful unit. A handy way to monitor the progress of your team is to refer to Tuckman’s stages of team development, nurturing them as they go through each stage.
- Forming – initially, your team will need a lot of guidance. The forming stage is where you clearly define common goals and establish each individual’s strengths, roles, and responsibilities within the context of both the project and overall team dynamic.
- Storming – at this stage, teams have a sense of purpose and are bonding over the fact that they’re striving towards the same goal. However, it’s also the stage in which conflict can arise, often due to differing work styles and confusion over responsibilities. During this stage, continue to nurture your team into their agile workflow while listening to their opinions and supporting positive mental health.
- Norming – team members are settling into their roles, adopting some agency over process optimization.
- Performing – teams are established in their roles, seamlessly adjusting to each new project and working collaboratively with independence.
Prioritize Collaboration and Communication
The success of an agile workflow is dependent upon swift lines of communication, so having the right communication tools in place (and making certain that your team knows how to use them) is essential for a high-performing agile team. Enterprise VoIP solutions are effective at guaranteeing that team members are kept in sync regardless of their physical location, offering unified communications and integrations with project management systems.
And of course, with all the active collaboration that your team will be doing, it goes without saying that you’ll need to invest in the collaboration tools and software to make cooperative working as streamlined as possible.
As the post-pandemic workplace continues to embrace flexibility and adaptability, pushing traditional, rigid project management methodologies firmly out of the door, the benefits of an agile workflow are becoming recognized outside of the software development industry it was created in.
Everything from your sales training techniques to your marketing strategies can be supported and enhanced by agile frameworks, but the most significant advantage of agile-driven workflows is undoubtedly in the management of large projects and collaborative teams.