Join Kelley O'Connell for an in-depth discussion in this video Clarifying your goals, part of Transitioning from Waterfall to Agile Project Management.
- Lots of people move to new homes every year. No one likes to move. It's expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. So why do they do it? More space? Shorter commute? Larger yard? All of the above? Well, for every person that moves, there's a unique set of reasons for doing it. If you start the process of moving without understanding your goals, you'll likely end up moving again within a few years. Moving project methodology homes is much the same.
For every company that moves to Agile, there's a unique set of reasons for change. There's no cookie cutter here. It's important for you to recognize those reasons at your company and be prepared to explain why and how Agile can help you. Let's explore some of the common goals for moving to Agile by exploring the situational reasons that made the move necessary. The most common reasons for moving to Agile are: timely delivery, lack of quality, faster time to market.
Lets start by exploring the reason known as timely delivery. I often hear from business people that they request projects and a team is formed to do the work. Often they tell me the project goes on for months or years and nothing is delivered. They get frustrated and pull the plug on the whole darn thing. There's no use throwing good money after bad, now is there? Similarly, business people say they rarely know when something will be delivered. They're reluctant to just let the effort continue to go on with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Meanwhile, something else important has come up and the project must be scrapped, ending the work before any value is delivered. Now, Agile offers a solution to these situations. Agile practices structure all their efforts around delivering working software every two to four weeks. These short delivery durations are known as "iterations" or "sprints." In every sprint, working software is developed, demonstrated to the stakeholders, and permission to continue is requested.
If sufficient value as been delivered, the project ends gracefully. If additional features are needed, the team will continue on, repeating the iterative cycle. No more never-ending projects. Next up is the common problem of lack of quality. When something is finally delivered, it only vaguely resembles what the business had in mind. Or worse yet, it looks like what you wanted, but it just doesn't work. There's a common cartoon that explains this issue.
If you're laughing, it's probably due to your own experience with this very phenomenon. Agile approaches things differently to make sure that what you asked for is what you get. This iterative development approach solves the quality problem. Not only is the business seeing working software every few weeks, they're also represented on the team as the product owner and subject matter experts. In Agile, the product owner, or PO, is a business person that's at least 60% dedicated to working on the team.
Every day, the PO is working within the team, defining requirements to make sure they're clearly understood. They're also looking at the product throughout the development life cycle. These many demonstrations help to ensure a high-quality, accurate product is delivered at the end of the sprint. Another reason companies move to Agile is to speed up their time to market. This reason is closely related to the need for innovation. It usually sounds something like, "Our key competitor is consistently beating us to the market with new features." Agile addresses this by shortening the delivery life cycle.
When your team is dedicated to the work effort and does nothing else for the sprint, your company can deliver new items to the market very quickly. Seeing working software so frequently generates new ideas, new innovations that this time-focused team can easily move to the next sprint. Two birds with one stone here. Faster time to market and increased capacity for innovation. Your competitors won't be beating you for long. Finally, all of these situational reasons to go Agile have one thing in common.
All of these reasons I've offered here are expensive. For every project that delivers only portions of what was needed, slowly and with low quality is costing you money. Lots of it. Agile proposes that your overall costs can be reduced by solving the other problems. If you can deliver high quality products more quickly and with an innovative edge, it will cost less to stay in business, period. Don't move project methodology homes without clearly understanding what the reasons are in your environment.
Spend some time asking around to find out what problems others are seeing. Translate those problems into goals and then map them back to what you know about Agile and the solutions it offers.
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- Making the agile paradigm shift
- Testing agile practices
- Obtaining support
- Building the team
- Planning basics
- Sprint planning and execution
- Expanding the pilot