The appeal and structure of Agile methods are expanding beyond the realm of software development.
It has helped Three Wire Systems deliver on diverse projects like functional data centers with a refurbishment of Dell hardware, continuously manage the warranty service, and coordinate targeted corporate marketing campaigns throughout the year, said Tara Harrington, Scrum Master at Three Wire Systems. The ability to communicate and iterate with all stakeholders is what makes the entire process consistently successful.
“The reason Agile is so successful is that it’s much like shooting an arrow at a paper target,” said Cindi Clark, who serves as Director of Program Delivery. “If you’re off by a centimeter when you aim, you’re off by a foot when it hits the paper target because you can’t adjust it midstream. Agile gives you that benefit of being able to adjust as you go so that you don’t miss the target.”
Agile thrives when you can gain knowledge about how to make improvements and get to the best possible solution. Clark and Harrington shared three ways that agencies can support gained knowledge to ultimately improve outcomes.
Transparency is at the heart of what makes Agile successful because conversations about progress and workload tracking happen in the open. Three Wire Systems, for example, actively shares what it’s creating with internal teams and external customers. Through collaboration, employees know what team members and groups are working on, and they can identify bottlenecks, dependencies, or clashes with planned or ongoing work. Transparency also comes in the form of demoing the work before the next work cycle or sprint so that customers can share feedback on what is and is not meeting their needs.
Agile teams can inspect and provide feedback on a project at any time. Inspection is crucial to advise the team if they are on track for success, or if they need to pivot. Regular inspection as a team, through short work cycles, provides built-in, daily opportunities to check in on progress. If a team member identifies a roadblock, the team helps immediately resolve the issue to increase efficiency.
Once the team identifies process improvement, they make changes for the next work cycle. If the project missed the mark or the requirements unexpectedly changed, the team adapts to those changes using a subset of Agile called Scrum. Scrum is a cyclical process that takes Agile values a step further by highlighting the importance of building in opportunities for transparency, inspection and adaptation.
“Agile isn’t as big of a transition as people think,” Clark said. “People may think that it’s going to change everything, or that it’s an expensive or massive change. But, honestly, you can start with a little bit of training and a shared to-do list and transition to Agile over time.”
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Agile for Everyone: How to Improve Everyday Work Processes.” Download the full guide here.
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