Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in early 2020, companies and organizations have faced many challenges. From surviving extreme profit loss to navigating a remote workforce, it’s no surprise that many have struggled to adapt to such significant changes and ongoing uncertainty.
As the new Covid-19 Delta variant continues to sweep the US, and another variant–the MU variant– looms in the background, it has become clear that no one can predict the end to the pandemic, nor when companies will return to a ‘normal’ office environment. But companies and organizations that can learn, improve, and quickly adapt to changes will certainly have a better chance at withstanding challenging situations amid the ongoing pandemic. One way to ensure this is by adopting The Agile methodology within your company and team.
Software developers created the Agile Manifesto as a method to bring products to the market faster, eliminate long pre-production periods, and limit the need for having multiple touchpoints across organizations through different divisions. Although the methodology was created by software developers, Agile practices and frameworks can be used across many different industries. And the method has grown in popularity through the years among companies and organizations looking to maintain their competitive edge.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the key benefits of Agile teams, ways some industries can implement Agile, and how you can get started building your own Agile team.
Key benefits of building an Agile team
The short-term and long-term effects of Covid-19 are still unpredictable. Unlike the original virus, the Delta variant spreads faster, putting individuals and families at continued risk. With this, companies must ensure they are prepared for any potential issues that could affect productivity and output. For example, a team member or their loved one becoming ill, causing them to be out for weeks.
In a traditional organization, this could cause problems and significant delays but with an Agile team, it shouldn’t. That’s because when you work with Agile methods, you adapt quickly as you go. Teams are small and work cross-functionally; therefore, it should be easy for anyone to pick up where another team member left off. In addition to helping teams be much more adaptable and safe in the midst of the pandemic, Agile has many other key benefits like:
1. Brings order to unstable working conditions.
With entire teams now working from home, the need for strict deadlines and structure to maintain productivity is crucial. Agile helps the team implement and set deadlines. It also has a structured cadence to meetings to ensure work moves steadily. For example, daily standups (a term used in Agile to describe when a project team meets to discuss a project’s progress at a high level) and weekly planning meetings help keep the team focused on priorities.
2. Allows teams to adapt to new directives more quickly.
One of Agile’s key principles is the ability to iterate continuously. So, teams are aligned from the beginning knowing there will be a lot of potential changes. A common mantra for remote agile teams is to “fail fast.” With this, teams are encouraged to gather feedback on the go and move on fast after realizing an idea/process isn’t working. This helps them determine whether to continue working on the same trajectory or take a different approach. Constant testing means teams are always learning and applying those learnings to improve.
3. More efficiency, More Speed.
Agile methods break major projects into tiny tasks that can be completed in short bursts. This not only increases the overall speed but also gives Agile teams the opportunity to make amendments and refine each aspect of the project.
4. Empowers teams to make decisions in real-time.
Agile helps eliminate bottlenecks in teams. Since the team determines the goal of projects and how to execute them collectively, no one is waiting for major decisions to be made by one person to move forward on a project.
How Certain Industries Can Benefit From Agile
Agile project management is an iterative approach to developing projects. It prioritizes and ensures that feedback can be acted on quickly and that responsive changes can be made at each stage of a sprint or product cycle. Many industries have adopted Agile approaches, but there are a few in which the benefits and application can be seen clearly. Let’s explore.
Agile in Marketing and Advertising
As a result of the pandemic and lockdowns, more people than ever have seen aspects of their professional and daily life move online. From work to school, doctors’ appointments to exercise classes, time on the internet, and social media have surged. Many people who’d never used social media, or used it very little, have also found themselves relying on the platform to stay connected, which is still the case today.
Consumers have more marketers than ever vying for their attention on various platforms, which means marketers must become more creative and competitive in their approach to reaching their audience. Using the Agile Method in marketing means marketers can test marketing tactics and learn from them much faster. By using what’s referred to as a sprint, which is a short period of work focused on specific projects, Agile teams can identify these high-value projects and collectively focus their attention on the project until it’s complete.
So, for example, a marketing team that wants to produce a campaign can work together to create, test, and optimize it by using Agile methods that prioritize communication and collaboration within the team and bring it to life faster. Teams will determine if the project was successful in a set timeframe; if yes, they work on improving as they go, or if they decide it was not successful or valuable, they move on.
But with Agile teams, even projects that don’t yield high value are considered a success because of the learnings they produce, learnings that help teams and companies improve and respond quickly to changes in the market.
Agile in Construction
From small projects to large and complex ones, construction projects always run the risk of delays and cost increases. Delays can result from labor shortages, scheduling issues with vendors or contractors, weather, etc. These are all typical causes for delays. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened most of these risks.
The first wave of the pandemic forced construction companies to implement strict social distancing measures— measures that are still, perhaps more, necessary than ever due to the more contagious Delta variant strand. But in addition to keeping employees safe, government regulations, travel restrictions, and interruptions in supply chain and project delivery also continue to present challenges to contractors and construction companies.
By using Agile methods, construction companies can form smaller teams responsible for certain parts of the construction process. These teams will identify the various iterations of the project and hold daily or weekly meetings to identify issues and develop faster solutions. With this type of project management, Agile teams that are focused very closely on every detail, contractors can also avoid and mitigate significant issues that could arrive at the end of a project since Agile teams can potentially catch them early.
Agile in the Automobile industry
The demand for smart, connected, and autonomous vehicles are greater than ever before. This has provided automakers with an opportunity to create and offer more features. And with more innovation comes the need for faster and more efficient ways for automakers to bring things to market, a key benefit of building an Agile team.
With companies like Tesla leading the transformation of the auto industry with tech-focused vehicles, automakers must be willing to adapt to the new changes in the way vehicles are now being made and rely much more on software. In addition to keeping up with the increased demand in tech, auto companies must ensure they have the necessary supply, which the pandemic has made difficult, and the new Covid-19 Delta variant has further complicated. Many auto companies are dealing with a chip shortage that has continued to challenge business growth.
Although teams don’t have control over supply availability, they do have control over how they iterate and adapt to change and problems like these. In the Automobile Industry, Agile can help teams do so by providing methods to test new alternatives when a supply isn’t available and deploy the change to quickly assess its quality and safety.
How to Build an Agile Team
Incorporating the Agile methodology doesn’t have to be complex. By simply following certain Agile methods, your team can get started today increasing productivity and efficiency significantly. Here are a few key things you’ll need to know to begin adopting the Agile methodology within your team.
Plan in advance.
Since Agile works on an iterative approach when developing products and projects adopting this methodology would require remote Agile teams to plan what they’re working on at each given period in advance. This helps with aligning the vision of the business objectives across all divisions. Also, you can improve on the fly by segmenting work out in a specific time period due to the tight feedback loop.
Rituals and ceremonies.
One of the reasons Agile is so effective is its rituals and ceremonies. Such ceremonies include: Planning, where work for a given time is decided upon; Daily stand-ups are where the work is executed; Review when the work is reviewed; and Retrospective, where the team resolves any issues. For success, each member of the team must attend each ceremony. However, the Review may involve insights from customers to make the feedback loop more effective.
Embrace Learning and Failing Fast.
Agile teams have multiple opportunities to make errors and course-correct. Especially since there are multiple retrospectives throughout the project cycles. So, you should make sure that this is an idea that your team will fully embrace while you are building a more Agile approach to your business.
Make virtual collaboration easy.
Project management tools like Jira, messaging tools like Slack, and video conferencing tools like Zoom can replicate the in-house working environment to a certain extent and improve communication. These tools and workflows can make remote Agile teams stable and productive.
Establishing trust is the central layer in the functional team pyramid. And the agile methodology is built on establishing trust within the team. If all of your team is working from home due to the pandemic, they are essentially autonomous. A successful Agile team reinforces the trust they have in its individual members, which ensures the team takes responsibility for meeting the business goals. By supporting your team with productivity tools and establishing trust with them, they can take charge of their own performance and continuously deliver value.
The Covid-19 pandemic has completely changed the way many of us live, work, and do business. The Delta variant has continued to present challenges, and teams have been forced to evolve to meet the demands of a regularly changing market and economy. We have naturally become more agile and adaptable, but as seen in this article, building an Agile team requires not only having the right frameworks but a shift in mindset. In such uncertain times, the key benefit of building an Agile team is the ability to respond quickly to change and with less stress.
Since Agile is a framework, it can be easily adjusted to meet the needs of teams in specific industries, and Dressler Consulting is a company that can help you do so. Our team can create a tailored solution to help you build an Agile team that helps your business run more effectively and efficiently. We are there every step of the way.
To learn more about our services and get started transforming your company into an Agile organization visit Dressler Consulting.