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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Challenges and Benefits of Adapting to Agile Methodology

It's always a nightmare when we usually think about getting and setting a team to work together. A team comprises of resources with different attitudes, personalities and roles, working in a similar environment and that is the reason you are in need of some guidelines  and processes in place to keep thing always good and move forward. But trust me, in the long run still you will come across so many challenges. 

Agile Is Fast, Flexible and Iterative.

Today, “agile” is a common usage /practice in many of the software companies. As we all know it's main purpose is to solve many of the problems software teams encounter using the traditional waterfall methodology. In contrast to waterfall, agile is an iterative, responsive approach to building software. It is meant to provide more freedom for the designers and developers as they work on individual modules.

In agile, usually the teams work in sprints (may be short or long), instead of implementing the whole software applications from scratch to finish. The duration of a sprint varies from 1-2 weeks based on the requirements. The main advantage is that, by using an approach like this, both the software testing and customer feedback happen simultaneously rather than waiting for the completion of entire software for attaining these things. 

Waterfall to Agile - What made the transition ?

As we all know, every project or products is entirely different in the world of software development. There is a traditional approach of sequential process  followed by the software teams which was called “Waterfall”.

But in the past several years most of the companies have moved away from the waterfall model. There are a number of reasons for this shift. Mainly this approach was not flexible enough for the fast paces ever changing world of software.

With this approach you will define all the requirements up front and chances are there you stuck with them for the duration of the project. That means, literally you could be building something that was conceived several months before and it may not even be relevant anymore in the current context.

This linear approach has always restricted the software teams and the products they were building. But still, waterfall remained the norm for many decades.

Challenges in adopting agile methodology and how to overcome them. 

 I would say Agile is always a new way of thinking, managing and working. But it's a fact that just like any shift or change in process, many teams have struggled to adopt agile.

However, like any change or shift in process, many teams have struggled to adopt agile. It requires a new way of thinking, managing, and working. Here are some of the common challenges in adopting agile methodology and how to overcome them.

Challenge #1: Getting your client on-board with agile.

For many of the clients, Agile is quite an unfamiliar way of working together which could eventually be really uncomfortable. As in the case of software teams, Clients/Customers are also resistant to change. But there are ways you can overcome this fear of adopting agile though.

Solution: Build trust.

It’s really important to build trust from the beginning, and continue building it after each sprint. By engaging the customer the right way, you’ll build that trust and they will become more comfortable and excited about working with you in this capacity. Worst case scenario is they don’t get comfirtable with agile and you continue to practice agile internally, while bringing in the traditional project or account manager to take on the role of product owner.

Challenge #2: Agile is a cultural shift.

Agile methodology requires your organization to encompass certain values and beliefs. It always require a lot of trust from management side that your team can not only do the work required, but also do it in the best way possible. Your team needs to believe in providing value to both the customer and the product, and you need to empower your team to be creative, make decisions, and work together. Conversely, your team needs to be independent and there by should be able to do these things – make decisions, work well together, and think outside the box.

Solution: Hire an agile coach.

If you’re new to agile or finding that your team is struggling with the shift, it might be worth bringing in an experienced agile coach to avoid some of the issues. If that’s not an option for whatever reason, empower your team to get out in the community and learn from other agile experts.

Challenge #3: Many people think agile should be done exactly a certain way.

It’s often thought that in order to be agile, you need to follow every rule and guideline as instructed. Sure there are a lot of ideas, techniques and practices that go into “agile”, but the perception that there is only one way to be agile is not correct. In fact, it’s far from the truth.

As Anjuan Simmons says,

“Agile is not a one-sized-fits-all methodology that works for every situation. It is a framework that is meant to be flexible.”

Solution: Try different approaches.

In agile itself there are many approaches. Select the one that suits you and go for it. Scrum is by the most popular. But others are also fairly popular today. Search and find these approaches and see which one suits your team the most. Once you settle on one, feel free to change it so that it works with you and your team. It’s ok to only implement some of the techniques.

For example, Maybe one week sprints are too short…try two weeks, or four weeks…whatever works for you team. Likewise, if work break down structure or planning poker isn’t working for estimation, try a different estimation technique.  If daily stand-ups are getting stale and lacking value, move to every other day. Try new things until you find what works for you.

In Conclusion

In short agile enables us to move quickly and easily. Lots of advantages are there to working this way, but it can be a big undertaking and a significant shift in the way teams think and work together. Always know that while adopting agile, the more you prepare and the more you experiment with different ideas and techniques, the better off you’ll be. Never ever try to force it on your team – find what works for you, your team, your customers, and I would say for sure, With this new way of thinking, managing and working, you’ll be on your way to a fast, flexible way of working.

I hope, you might have found these tips to avoid challenges in adopting agile methodology useful. Please lemme know your views and comments .

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