Written by Asim Rais Siddiqui, co-founder and CTO at TekRevol. Asim helps businesses bring their digital vision to life by delivering scalable technology solutions.
Agile is a continuously repetitive work approach that was initially introduced in the IT sector. Today, the Agile workflow has been implemented across almost every sector, including automotive, marketing, supply chain and many more.
Several factors are at play in implementing Agile, such as an unstable macro-environment, fluctuating market conditions and customer-centric approach. These factors compel businesses to adopt an Agile workflow to streamline their processes.
Implementing Agile does take tremendous amounts of time and resources, and typically a business has to go through various trials and tribulations before successful implementation. However, all that effort is rewarded by yielding higher revenues, improving productivity and providing excellent customer service.
The following is a step-by-step guide to successfully implementing Agile.
Step 1: Have a thorough understanding of Agile.
Many businesses tend to suddenly shift from the traditional approach to Agile without having a proper understanding of its concept.
There are two main reasons you should have a clear understanding of Agile prior to implementation:
Know the intended outcomes. You must have a clear knowledge of your desired outcomes. The general idea of Agile is to divide the different processes of developing a product into smaller parts. A specific team is assigned to work on each small part of the product, which makes building a product much swifter and effective due to iterations.
Customize your Agile workflow as needed. You also need to know how you can customize this strategy as needed. And if you're looking to streamline all the processes that improve your business's overall productivity, you need to follow these simple steps:
- Identify your current state of business.
- Steadily move toward achieving your goal.
- Implement and adapt from your learning and experience.
Step 2: Be wary of hurdles and challenges.
The successful implementation of an Agile workflow depends on coordination among teams, transparent policies and flexibility. These elements could be a hurdle for some large-scale organizations because the entire corporate chain could be disrupted with Agile implementation. Larger organizations might struggle, whereas small and medium businesses might have more ability to take disruptions in stride. Knowing what kind of business you operate will determine how you approach this method.
Step 3: Create an initiation plan.
You need to take baby steps when you're creating an Agile plan by finding the obvious opportunity areas where Agile can be most easily and readily implemented. Once you have found those areas, you need to determine the best approach and consider all your business's critical elements.
Mission Bell Winery is one example of a business that implemented Agile and completely redefined and transformed its operations. The winery leadership had a goal to achieve Safe Quality Food Level 2 certification and implemented Scrum (one of the Agile frameworks) in every aspect of its business operations. As a result, the company has seen a significant increase of 90 percent in its annual finished goods inventory process.
Step 4: Experiment. Learn. Adapt.
Agile brings innovation to the table, providing an effective and efficient solution to a particular problem. Most startups have limited guidelines to launch their particular product. These guidelines are mainly based on assumptions, which is not the most effective way to develop a plan.
With the Agile methodology, you can have your stakeholders on board during meetings and share the project's updates. This helps your team, and you can prioritize the tasks accordingly.
Moreover, you also need to conduct a safe experiment that doesn't jeopardize the project but works as a learning mechanism.
Step 5: Empower your people.
The traditional corporate culture is authoritative and based on hierarchy. Agile doesn't believe in authority -- it believes in freedom, liberty and empowerment for everyone to effectively work autonomously with the best of their abilities.
There are no managers in Agile companies but rather leaders who guide and mentor their subordinates. Agile companies provide a harmonious culture where every employee's opinions and suggestions are valued and discussed on a bigger scale.
Google conducted major research on the secret of successful teams and found it related to psychological safety. The research concluded that when there is a safe work environment for employees to share their two cents on a particular problem without any backlash, employees tend to feel comfortable and confident in their work area.
It's important to note that it's no easy feat to successfully implement Agile in a well-established business enterprise. Initially, you need to start small and build up to full-level expansion. However, when the Agile workflow is applied effectively, it will help streamline business operations, processes and even human resources.