Is Agile Management right for your business?
Over the last few decades, companies have used various types of management styles to run their business operations. One of the more common is the “Waterfall” method for managing projects. In this model, progress flows downward through phases in this order: Conception, Initiation, Analysis, Design, Construction, Testing, Production, or Implementation and Maintenance. However, as technology has facilitated global communication, companies have begun to face stiffer competition and have realized they must reduce the time it takes to create products or complete projects. Companies have also felt pressure to adapt to cultural change.
Conventional business models are struggling to keep up with the needs of the economy and modern consumer. Consequently, more and more companies are adopting the “Agile” model of business management, which helps them be more flexible and allows them to adapt quickly to the ever-adapting landscape of digital commerce.
What is Agile Management?
You may have heard the term Agile used recently when talking about a business management or project management style. But what exactly does Agile mean? According to Wikipedia “Agile Management or Agile Project Management is an iterative and incremental method of managing the design and build activities for engineering, information technology, and new product or service development projects in a highly flexible and interactive manner.” It is a set of values, principles, techniques, and frameworks for the adaptable, incremental, and efficient delivery of work.
The powerful aspect of Agile is that it can be applied to any type of work including finance, sales, HR, marketing, corporate strategy, leadership, and much more. The ultimate goal of Agile Management is to use the principles and techniques that focus on business agility as a means of promoting business growth.
Benefits and disadvantages
While Agile Management is a great management style that promotes growth through agility, it may not be the preferred business model for every business. For example, Agile is not well suited for a government entity or corporation that requires strictly defined requirements and scope documentation that must be approved before a project begins. Agile also requires vigilant backlog and documentation maintenance, requires additional focus to make sure tasks are not being missed, and is extremely fast paced.
Below is an infographic showing the pros and cons of both the Waterfall and Agile methods of management.
Getting started with Agile
Now that you have a better idea of the Agile model and have seen the pros and cons, you can decide whether switching to an Agile environment will benefit your business. To help you implement Agile into your business, I have listed five steps below that will enable a smoother transition.
Build your team
The first step is to get the members of management onboard. Start with high-level managers, then middle-level managers. They can play a critical role in helping build and support their employees through these changes. Make sure these managers provide descriptions of expected skill sets and competencies for hiring and progression, implement and support role-specific tool sets, set up tools to support collaboration across teams, and manage performance through frequent feedback and reviews.
Don’t overthink the Agile adoption process
You’ve heard the age-old adage that change takes time. Taking a long time to switch to an agile strategy is actually the opposite of agility. Begin by setting a date on your calendar, perhaps the beginning of the following month. Create a basic overall goal and then a short-term goal for the first week. Make incremental changes every week as quickly as possible without throwing your office into turmoil. After just a few weeks, you will see your office transitioning into a more agile workforce.
Become really good at multitasking
One of Agile’s (features) is the ability to work on several phases of a project at one time. This means that you will be working at a fast pace and doing a great deal of multitasking. This will require you to have a great plan in place for communicating about, collaborating on, and documenting the work being completed.
Don’t be afraid to explore and innovate
One of the key elements of Agile is adaptation, agility, and flexibility. Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation in which a task or phase didn’t go exactly as planned. This is the best time to put your thinking cap on and explore different, and hopefully better, ways to achieve the goal you set out to achieve in a quick and productive manner.
Know the rules, but don’t be afraid to break them
True agility is by definition the ability to adapt; therefore, there is not one best way to achieve your goals. The right way to approach the framework is to pick the simplest method that seems to fit your situation and to adopt it over time with the emphasis on creating your desired outcome by completion of the phase. These approaches are simply a means to the end of being more flexible, fast, and effective. Focus on those goals and adjust your practices over time to meet them.
Tell us your experiences
If you have recently switched to an Agile strategy or have decided to do so in the near future, we’d love to hear from you. Send us your tips, tricks, or things that have made Agile implementation easier for your business. Or let us know how Agile has positively transformed your business. Please add your comments below.