Is Agile obsolete than the internet? Gerald Weinberg, a software development anthropologist in his book Psychology of Computer Programming and Introduction to General Systems Thinking introduced incremental development in 1957 for the first-ever time at IBM in Los Angeles. In the 1970’s adaptive and evolutionary approaches emerged.
All the strategies which are presently called Agile have been adopted since the 1990s. But in 2001, the real Agile Manifesto got into existence. In 2009, Scrum Guide was released. During the past few years, the concept has evolved into a buzzword and earned recognition as a means to benefit corporate responsiveness.
Why accept the Agile method?
Agile is a universal, straightforward, and versatile strategy to get the work done. We need to realize our maximum ability, adjust to the change instantly, and be open to what we are working on and what is shutting us along the route. But the truth is more unpleasant and harsher.
Agile report’s 14th State discovered that out of 95% of companies that are practicing the Agile method, only 63% are enduring quicker lead times as an outcome. This occurs when the possibility is not designed properly and does not indicate the workflow of the team, or when the consequence itself is not satisfactorily thought over.
84% of teams in the same report considered Agile maturity and competence as average. This suggests that there is a great necessity for more instruction on the subject, as 61% of teams are practicing this strategy for the past few years.
This is all about teams of software development. And what will be the scenario with those who are not into coding? Why do they have to be ready for the modifications in the requirements and work in small iterations anytime? This approach aims to focus the efforts of the team on acquiring value and managing skills.
These are universal rules for every team that delivers products or services. This is the reason why agile practices are adapted in teams like sales, legal, or marketing which rely on short-term goals and timely communication. Few experiences also show that supply and HR departments also acquire value through frameworks of agile by reanalyzing the practices.
Application of agile methods outside software projects
It is intriguing to know that Agile practices emerged from domains outside IT and software. Agile author and coach Allan Kelly says that day-to-day standup meetings are common among staff in the restaurant and pair programming is the most popular way of work among aircrew and surgeons.
The methodology of agile can be applied in the advancement of products like medical devices, clothing, music, food, and computers. This method can be used in everything that is sent out in versions and can be improved continuously.
The combination of applications of Agile is astonishing even if you do simple things like web surfing. Below are a few examples to prove this point:
● In 2013, Bruce Feiler’s TED Talk mentioned the use of Agile methods in raising kids and running a family. A few years later a similar approach was written by Matthew Jeffrey. Simple things like chore checklists and regular meetings work wonders when you have a lot of work and there is no time to convey.
● Later Newton Lee mentioned the production of Agile music in his compilation which was named Digital Da Vinci. He knew the fact that some sort of technology is needed by musicians to record and create compositions. So, he correlated each aspect of the imaginative process to its replica in the area of software. This way he produced results that are outstanding and are presently on the charts of the U.S. Billboard.
● In one of the presentations given by Karolina Brunet, she mentioned a pharmaceutical company that implemented Agile tools and methodologies for the management of clinical data. Despite being very sequential and structured by design, these projects benefitted a lot from the use of Agile methods which increased the competitive advantage of the company through rapid test iteration and quick response to change.
● Kate Sullivan presented another famous case called Lonely Planet Legal team in Beach 2012, which struggled to withstand the lack of transparency, multitasking, overworking, and managing internal stakeholders who had different interests. The team was able to handle this by planning iteration cycles for one week with daily standup meetings. They created a Kanban board for work in progress, backlogs, color codes for a variety of projects, and inside statuses they made sub-columns for different priorities. This board progressed in a similar incremental way and was embraced by different teams inside the organization.
● Industrial production gains a lot from Kanban and Lean manufacturing techniques- and in fact, invented them. In 1986, the iconic article from Harvard Business Review illustrated the cases of Canon, Honda, Toyota, and other Japanese organizations expanding deliverability. Relating their crews to the divisions of rugby teams, they introduced the phrase Scrum. This game-changer encourage Jeff Sutherland to draw these precepts to the software world.
Hybrid and mixed Agile methods
Even though Agile has positive effects, it will not settle all the factors of managing projects. For instance, Agile cannot be used in big investment projects like shipbuilding and construction. The whole thing is supervised by one Project Manager and many teams rarely connect. So, they follow the Waterfall method. But even in such projects, the Agile method is used in smaller extents of work. Agile is used in industries such as shipbuilding when there is a delay in schedules. The finishing works like interior and air conditioning must be done quickly.
Agile projects also depend on specialists like architects or designers throughout the timeline of the project. But in Waterfall when the steps are finished their contribution is periodic. Their absence doesn’t affect the mission. Also, more time is needed to communicate across various specializations and functions in such projects, especially in organizations where products and processes are highly complicated.
Hence, Agile practices tend to be ineffective in large companies and also for those product types that cannot be iterated or versioned quickly. As believed by managers, Agile practices are too extreme by the book and adopt hybrid approaches counting on their specific circumstances. This is known as method tailoring. Work is done by using different approaches in every organization. There are examples of mixed frameworks that are codified like Scrumban. Here, time-limited sprints are abandoned by the members of the team but they stick to the Scrum rituals and product backlogs. It is used in software mostly for ongoing bug fixing and app maintenance.
A team is required to leave aside agreed agile methods in some cases to work to meet the deadline. It is kind of an ultimate example of feature freezing. Here, the new projects aren’t accepted by the team until they make the important release. In many cases, having a technique and planning things are also vital. This is the reason for the emergence of mixed approaches. It is better to have a vague roadmap than no roadmap at all.
Is Agile meant only for software?
Fortunately not! Below are some tips if you are willing to consider Agile strategies within a Non-software team:
● An owner should be meant for each project. He has to act as the voice of the customers and should take charge of bringing about decisions for the business. A Scrum Master to help in delivering it on time.
● You need to take care of sharing culture and information transparency. An information radiator with project statuses such as a live dashboard to keep your notes of the meeting on the intranet, and to set up usual meetings like retros and standups.
● Work with customers closely.
● There is no particular blueprint to carry out Agile. It acts as a playbook that can be utilized according to the business needs of your team.
Agile strategies are of great benefit if they are utilized in the right way under the right circumstance.