What is Agile? Is it Necessary for your Business?

14 May, 2018 |

If you have spent some time in the start-up world, you have definitely experienced the coming and going of buzz words. Well, Agile project management is not just a passing trend and is actually here to stay. Companies that have switched to Agile have experienced a boost in productivity and innovation.

So, what exactly is Agile?

First and foremost, it is important to understand the exact meaning of Agile project management before taking the plunge and changing how you currently do things in your company. Whenever this question is asked in a room of executives, consultants, professionals or students, chances are 99% of those who answer will miss the mark when defining Agile.

Agile can best be described as a set of values agreed upon by the original 17 signers of the Agile Manifesto, who came together and agreed on a set of values for building technology. If you have heard of Scrum, Kanban or Lean, these refer to specific instances of the Agile method.

Agile was born from a need to change the way in which software is developed in order to leverage its full potential.
The principles of the manifesto include:

  • Valuing individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Valuing working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Effective response to change over following a set plan.
  • Valuing customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

Therefore Agile is not just a tool you will use and discard at will. It is a set of values that prioritize people over tools. This is why it has to be understood what Agile is before the organization makes the decision to migrate. From the CEO to your freelance developers and even your customers, everyone needs to be on board and understand the value of migrating to Agile.

So, what does this mean for your company?

Transitioning to Agile can be difficult for organizations that are hard-set in their traditional ways. Only about 60% of such companies manage to make the transition. Why? You may ask. Well, Agile entails a completely different mentality. For example, in the course of their education, software developers and computer scientists focus almost entirely on technology, computing languages, tools, and systems. A complete shift of mindset is required for them to value individuals and interactions more. Therefore, you need a team that can easily adapt.

The question is: Is it really worth spending money and time on an initiative that will not directly impact earnings in the next quarter? Well, yes it is. Where transitions have been planned and carefully executed, technology teams have increased productivity by over 100%, not to mention the positive changes in corporate culture. Clients are more pleased with projects since they take part in their development, and technology teams are no longer costly and problematic.

Of course, while some companies succeed in the transition to Agile, others may fail. Shifting to Agile is not easy but it can be very rewarding. What is needed is the ability to unlearn old ways and a willingness to embody a new set of values.