Agile Team Tips for Businesses
Agile teams are better teams and if you can ensure your team can alter and work with any circumstance you’re in a strong place. Here is how to create a team just like this.
- Plan Continuously
Planning is essential for all non-waterfall projects. The overlap of work, pace of activity, and constantly changing business needs all require constant attention. You will not be aware of all the details in advance, but this is okay. The goal is to ensure that you keep planning so that you are always a step ahead of your development efforts.
It may feel tedious, but taking the time to plan ahead will be quite beneficial in the end. A great starting point would be to have a planning session with the whole team (developers, UX, and product owner). During the session you can walk through the designs and let the team ask questions and probe. The session provides the perfect opportunity for uncovering area that require further research. It is this kind of planning that helps you know what you currently don’t know and identify any risks it might pose.
Planning is still critical even when the project is underway. You will have to keep an eye on the product backlog as well as the velocity of work being delivered by the team. Understanding the variables that you are working with can help you adjust current sprints and plan for upcoming sprints as needed as the priorities change. You will have to continue working with the team to plan, re-prioritize as required, and set the expectations. Just when you believe that you are finished with planning, you should be ready to plan even more.
- Doing the Right Thing for The Product
In some cases, the “right way” is not the quickest, easiest, or cheapest way. However, it does not mean that you should start compromising your vision for the core product. Figure out the most suitable course of action, assess the impact, then make plans for moving forward. Priorities change, dates change, and the world moves on.
A smart product owner by the same token knows the best time to pull in the reins and make a tough call. There will always be features to squeeze in because a major client is asking for such or because of the “wow” factor. Step back to consider what is the most critical thing and then determine whether there are other ways you can accomplish that goal. As you can see from this piece by Capita ITPS the path might not appear as you envisioned it, but you are likely to find a way.
- Understand That Tools You Use Are Only as Good as their Input
Teams should understand any workflows or processes associated with the project and the scope of their responsibilities within them. The final thing that you should worry about are communication problems arising due to missed steps. Effective communication involves ensuring team members update the team daily in standup meetings and offering active management of work tickets of ongoing status.
The team should operate consistently and communicate in timely fashion to make it easy to track progress. Look for ways to offer visibility to those in need of it and eliminate noise for those that do not. Dashboards can be powerful tools for showcasing work progress and for quickly identifying any risks in the project.
- Having a Clear, Shared Understanding of What “Done” Refers To
Agile methods vary, which means that “done” can have multiple meanings in projects. What a team regards as “done” may not necessarily match with what a different team does. To ensure that there’s no confusion, your team should have a shared definition of “done” to ensure that everybody knows when they can regard a feature as being complete.
Keep the definition simple if you are new to Agile. For a feature, “Done” could be defined by a clear acceptance criterion for determining whether the user story is complete. The acceptance criterion may contain an explicit list of statements demonstrating whether the output matches the requirements. Once a particular feature is coded and tested, it can then be handed over to the owner of the product for a final review. The owner of the product should then accept the feature before it is considered “done”.
- Keeping the End in Mind
You are bound to face tradeoffs at some point while the project is underway. If such a situation arises, you should step back and ask “What is the Minimum Viable Project?” Ensure that you deliver real value to both your customers and business. If you have not done research with your customers, you shouldn’t spend time creating something that they might not need or want. The focus should be on your efforts and what can and will be beneficial in the short run and what you can continue building upon moving forward.