Hopefully, you know the difference between waterfall and agile and as I mentioned in my previous blog posts, we at Zooma are working with a combination of both, depending on the type of project, team and customer.
The main strength of an agile approach is that you easily can adjust to changing demands and conditions, rather than strictly follow a plan or specification. It’s quite common that you discover new needs as a project proceeds and therefore you might even feel freer when going with an agile approach.
Now you might wonder how to get started with an agile project? Here are my 7 tips!
1. Find a small and defined project to start with
Try to find a small and defined project that you can use to get started. Choose a project that has a short time frame where the entire team knows the goal but not how to solve the problem.
If you don’t have a small project, you can break down a big project into smaller deliveries.
2. Choose a boss or stakeholder who dares
You need to find a manager or stakeholder who dares to test the agile process, but also someone who can make quick decisions and has the mandate to set priorities. The chosen person needs to understand that it takes more time and presence from him or her than in more traditional project methods such as a waterfall method.
Something that can be uncomfortable for you as the project manager (aka the control freak) is that you have to give up control and trust that the team will create the best solution for the task. Changes may occur several times before the team reaches the correct solution—but just keep calm and trust your team. This means that you as should avoid micromanagement and instead make sure that the team understands the goal and the business value of each task.
3. Talk with each other and evaluate. Again and again.
Throughout your project, regularly remind each other about the basics of the agile mindset and evaluate your work by:
- Focusing on the business value—why does the team work with that particular task and what will you achieve?
- Draw lessons from previous stages. What has been good/bad, what can be improved and how can you implement these improvements?
- Dare to give more responsibility to the team.
It’s important that everyone in the team will be heard and that everyone’s insights have the same impact.
4. Create a board with all activities
Create a board to collect all the tasks included in the project—a board that is easily accessible to the entire team that clearly shows what should be done, what is ongoing and what is ready.
The board can be a whiteboard or a digital board, select the one that suits you and your team the best. If you ask me, I prefer a digital one: Trello.
Your way of working with the board needs to be decided before the team starts working. A quick way to get started is to use Kanban—read my blog post on the topic ‘What is Kanban process management and Why, When, how Should you use it?’
When a team member comes up with new ideas or new features that are not included in the current project, it should be praised and added to a backlog. The responsible person of the project is then responsible for prioritising tasks from the backlog into new projects.
A backlog can be an area of your whiteboard or a list on your Trello board.
6. Daily or regular status meetings
You should regularly have short status meetings to keep track of what each team member is working on right now or if anyone needs help to complete his or her task.
Are you a team that works solely on a common project, you can have daily status meetings for 5–10 minutes, but if you are a team working on several projects in different combinations, you should have at least one status meeting per project per week for approx. 15–30 minutes. Your meetings should be held next to the board.
The exact format of these meetings should be decided together with your team and everyone should be allowed to speak. For example, each person can tell the group what they are working on right now and what they need help with.
Often, we run directly on to the next delivery as soon as we are ready, but don’t forget to celebrate and appreciate your own and your team effort. Celebrate with a cake, a lunch together or something else that makes the group feel appreciated and motivated.
How do you work with your projects?