Agile was predominantly a collaborative discipline used by software development companies for faster decisions, customer collaboration and more efficient, iterative work output. Today, however, software development is not the only place where agile finds its use.
Irrespective of the industry, there are a few key facets of agile that are found in every establishment that has managed to implement it with success. As we explore these important corner stones of the agile discipline, it should also shed some light on how to build an agile organization from the ground up.
Agile as a discipline is inherently focused on the customer, and that focus does not end with conversion. Instead, conversion is just the first step in agile, as the company will continue to focus on supporting and supplying the customers until the relationship comes to its natural end. Not only does this create happy customers, it also retains customers/clientele, creating a steady stream of revenue.
The Shared Vision
As part of the collaborative effort, employees, stockholders and other investing partners are always kept in the loop regarding how the company is creating value for each of them. Depending on the company, major stakeholders may often be asked to become an active part of the value creation and decision-making process.
Whereas before, the employee was just a cog in the wheel, concerned only with their specific tasks, now they act as conscious parts of the greater machine, with a lot of room for individual flexibility. A place where everyone knows, understands and works collaboratively towards achieving the same, shared vision with each new iteration.
A Network of Interconnected, Interdependent Teams
As Kanbanize explains, an agile organization works because all teams in the organization are interconnected to each other, forming a highly efficient network of interdependent teams. There is always room for flexibility in action and two-way communication between them, but ultimately, they share that same iterative vision.
To aid every facet of seamless networking and enable modern symbiosis between all teams, Kanbanize has digitized and enhanced the classic Kanban boards into a software solution. It is one that perfectly caters to the various needs of an agile organization. The interconnected Kanban boards represent the entire workflow visually, as it flows through every person and department, from the very first iteration of the product, to the very last one.
Perhaps the most distinguishing factor which sets agile aside from other streamlining disciplines is the iterative approach it takes towards every project. There are many ways to define it, and the definitions do vary to some degree, depending on the concerned industry. At its core though, the main idea is always to deliver value fast, but in an iterative or incremental manner.
Before delivering the final product to a client, the team works on releasing multiple prototypes or versions of the product from early on. Each subsequent variant is then gradually improved, based on general usage data, bug reports and client feedback. As a result, by the time the team is able to deliver the final product, it is almost exactly what was asked of them, thanks to the improvements made on account of multiple iterative releases.
New Android OS version development cycles are excellent examples of how iterative agile is used by major corporations for maximum benefit. Each year, Google releases multiple beta versions of their upcoming Android OS to voluntary beta users. Based on user experiences, reports and feedbacks, Google slowly irons out the bugs, inconveniences, errors in coding, vulnerability gaps, etc., making the system software better with each passing variant of their upcoming OS.
True to the agile methodology, customer support continues and Google keeps enhancing and securing the Operating System via iterative updates and security patches. The same can be said about other operating systems such as Windows 10 as well, because in software development, the incremental agile process is quite simply the best.
The Components of Agile in Practice
Now that we have covered the ideology, values and mindset, next it is time to take a brief look through some agile practices. In terms of computer programming, where agile originated, these are called development frameworks.
If we were to extract the core meaning, then the frameworks could be defined as a system of processes that guide the project through its stages in accordance with the agile discipline. Agile practices can be broken down and categorized under the following components:
- Requirement Practices
- Estimation and Planning Practices
- Implementation Practices (work practices such as automation, specific to the sector)
- Agile Management Practices
Agile organizations incorporate stability, flexibility, variety, customization elements, collaboration and seamless decision making within the business model itself. So far, it has proven to be both a revolutionary, as well as an extremely successful, iterative model for planning, executing and managing business processes.