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Tips for Implementing Agile

Agile development for communication and better project results

The idea of implementing agile is appealing to many organizations. Agile development methodology is used for incremental software development to achieve better results, make projects run smoother, improve communication and stay on track. When done correctly it can make projects simpler, and allow customers to get their software faster. Here are some tips to keep in mind when implementing agile methodologies as part of your project management strategy.

Start on a small scale
When an idea takes off you may be tempted to try it organization-wide. When it comes to agile development, it is best to try out the new style of project management with maximum two or three teams until your organization gets used to the new style. Trying to transition the entire development staff right away will lead to miscommunication, and inconsistent expectations. Try it out first, and you will have both team members and managers who can act as mentors to the rest of the staff. This eases the transition greatly.

Pick the team wisely
Your organization is giving the development team a lot of freedom and latitude, which means the software engineers selected, have to be both skilled and reliable. If you doubt either of these attributes, then you need to select again. One unproductive person can easily add lag to a project.

Make time for productive meetings
Meetings are an important part of the agile process. The process can get bogged down if meetings are overly tied to format, or held longer than they need to be. Meetings should be short but frequent updates, half an hour to an hour, depending on the size of the team, where the team discusses the significance of current and future changes. This form of collaboration is about people, not schedules. Productive meetings are vital but don’t forget that they should not be the only source of information. The really successful project managers open all communication channels and encourage team members to use them.

Keep it simple…
Implementing agile is about results, not hours logged. It is tempting to make workers prove their productivity with time logs and other tools of traditional project management, but in agile your only focus is the goal. Make sure your project management system reflects that.

…but not stupid
Don’t just try Agile once and when no significant results were achieved start changing or tweaking the entire process right away. Any organization has to get a feel for how this process fits into the organization on a whole. Tweaking too early may lead to sub-optimal results, so plan for an adjustment period.

Nothing explains it better than an example. Here’s how the agile process works for testers:

Agile programming can work for a variety of organizations. If it is implemented correctly, it can improve communication between the client and the development team and keep the project on schedule. It can make better software available to clients in as close to real time as any organization can provide.

To learn how this process can build efficient teams in just three months, read this article.

Photo via Graphicstock

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