Join Kelley O'Connell for an in-depth discussion in this video Making the agile paradigm shift, part of Transitioning from Waterfall to Agile Project Management.
- Okay. So you've decided you're going to try Agile. That's great, but what does it really mean? It's definitely changing more than just the processes. It's changing the way everyone thinks. That's the big paradigm shift. It's kind of like going from a flip phone on which you can make and take calls to a smartphone on which you can do that, surf the net, many other things. In any project management methodology, we rely on the triple constraints. These are time, cost, and scope.
These are visualized as a triangle with each element at one corner. The definition of success is to keep all three things in perfect balance throughout the project. In waterfall, this meant that the list of features to deliver were at the top of the triangle and were fixed. That's why any change to scope required such rigorous approval. At the bottom of the triangle were time and cost. As features needed to be changed, this is where the process flexed. It took longer and cost more.
While cost and time are flexible, they aren't easy to alter. And let's be honest, any change to these was also frowned on. Can your project truly be successful if any of these changed? What's the perception at your company? Do you need to meet all three constraints to be successful? Probably yes. Agile turns the triangle upside down, literally. This is a huge paradigm shift. Agile says that we'll fix the time and the cost for the effort.
These are fixed, but the scope isn't. This is flexible. A single business person is assigned to you and dedicated to your team as the product owner. Their whole job is to ensure that within the fixed time and cost, the team will deliver the highest value items, period. They're free to swap out features, add new ones, remove others, just to ensure that what's needed is actually delivered. Whoa, that's big. That, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Agile Manifesto defines further paradigm shifts you'll need to make at your company. The key tenets of the Agile Manifesto are individuals and interactions over processes and tools. This means that individuals on the team and their interactions become paramount to success. It also means that defined process controls are less important than having a healthy team. The next key tenet is working software over comprehensive documentation.
Here, we're saying the measure of success is not reaching predefined milestones and delivering documents. It's very simply delivering working software every two to four weeks. The third tenet is customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Does this team still promise to do what the business needs? Yes, of course. But now the users must become actual partners, collaborating with the team throughout the project. They're on the team and accountable for work as well.
Finally, the fourth tenet is responding to change over following a plan. You'll still create plans in Agile, contrary to what you might have heard. You're actually planning every day. You are not, however, refusing to adapt to those plans when the landscape changes around you. These paradigm shifts, when implemented, can give your company the competitive advantage. It's a big shift and no small undertaking. Can you see the advantages you might realize? How big will this shift be at your company? Are you ready to make the jump from the flip phone to the smartphone?
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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