Making a successful change to the agile mindset for project management depends on setting the stage properly.
Culturally, agile can feel very different to what people are used to, especially in how this translates into work processes.
The transition period may therefore be challenging. But you can achieve change, with the right combination of preparedness and a willingness to adopt new methods and viewpoints.
My experience in business analysis has given me plenty of insights into what works, and what doesn’t.
Here, I look at the dos and don’ts you should consider when making the change to agile.
The Dos for Changing to Agile
DO define roles within your agile team. Make sure that you have the right mix of skills within your team.
DO create a detailed transition plan. This should have clear milestones and measurable outcomes. Include specific initiatives that support and enable change. Make sure you have integral processes and procedures for following up the results.
DO keep your stakeholders in the know. Your employees definitely have a stake in the changes you make, and the best way to make the process as smooth as possible is to be transparent about what you’re doing, and why.
DO encourage and collect feedback. This is an essential part of being transparent (see above) and of progressing the agile approach.
DO make the most of your review meetings. Make sure these are frequent, so that you can focus on any issues that are affecting progress. Invite suggestions for improving the process. Prioritise actions to resolve issues quickly.
DON’T let your team play the blame game. When things go wrong, the team is accountable, rather than individuals within it. This principle is a cornerstone of agile project management. Without it, it is very hard to maintain a sense of collaboration, innovation and shared learning. Shared accountability helps maintain a positive and empowering outlook.
DON’T micro-manage your team. Assign tasks and monitor progress. Give guidance where necessary, but remember, this is about empowering people to make decisions collectively, but with a sense of autonomy.
DON’T undervalue team meetings. Maintaining daily meetings, even if they’re brief, helps underpin and reinforce agile values.
DON’T assume you can miss out the planning stage. Yes, agile is versatile, as its name suggests, but it isn’t about going into things without any upfront planning at all. There must be a method behind the mindset.
DON’T skip the training stage. Just as planning is vital, so is ensuring your team has the necessary training to equip it for success.
DON’T expect training to make your employees into instant experts. It takes time and experience to embed new ways of working.
No One Said It Would Be Easy
Agile project management has the potential to be highly effective in bringing about lasting change.
But making the change to agile is not always straightforward. It can be difficult to let go of some things and embrace new ways of thinking and acting.
The biggest risk, however, is in not implementing agile in the right way. It will work, but like any tool, you need to know how to use it properly.
Getting to your desired destination takes perseverance, and a willingness to put your trust in your teams.
The rewards can be significant, and enduring, including increased productivity, better quality of output and employee satisfaction.
Find out more about agile project management and how it can deliver change to your business. Please get in touch