Agile is the collaborative mindset shaking the foundations of many New Zealand businesses.
Earlier this year, telecommunications giant Spark announced they were restructuring to adopt an Agile approach to production – a move that earned scepticism from some, including Daniel Vidal, Associate Professor at the University of Auckland’s School of Business1. So what exactly is Agile, and why does it create room for doubt?
What is Agile?
At first glance, Agile appears to be a set of tools or methodologies. It encompasses a range of disciplined project management processes that encourage self-organisation, accountability, frequent introspection and adaptation. An Agile team should reflect on both the work that is done and how it was done to regularly evolve their processes and create an organically self-improving development system.
The most common process framework in Agile is called Scrum. In order to be successful, a process framework must follow a particular set of practices. In the case of Scrum, this involves an iterative process wherein work is assigned at the beginning of regular periods (“Sprints”), and reflected on at the end of each period. Teams convene for short daily stand-up meetings which allow an opportunity to re-plan in-progress work and adapt to changing requirements.
Why use Agile?
Agile development brings benefits to all stakeholders, from customers to vendors, developments teams, project managers and C-level executives.
- Reduced time-to-market: With Agile allowing frequent re-prioritising of work, customer requirements can be met more quickly. This minimises wasted time, decreasing overheads and increasing efficiency, while also improving customer relationships.
- More valuable work: By minimising non-productive work such as writing specifications, developers can focus on more enjoyable work that is better valued by customers – creating higher job satisfaction for development teams.
- Greater transparency: Project management becomes much easier, with leaders able to focus on task-level tracking using daily stand-up meetings and burndown charts. This heightened visibility also allows C-level executives to plan based on real information rather than speculation.
Considerations for adopting Agile
While Agile offers a massive boon to development teams, it needs to be applied carefully. Agile is not just a group of methodologies, rather, it’s a mindset. It relies on organisational responsiveness and nimbleness: the ability to adapt quickly to changing requirements. This can be a cause for complication where businesses aim to apply Agile to their development teams and not to the wider company – including the leadership team.
Successful Agile is where businesses and IT meet. Senior management staff need to be able to forego traditional inflexible business plans and learn the same adaptive practices that the self-managing teams under Agile require.
The most efficient businesses in New Zealand are employing qualified, experienced Agile teams. To connect with the best developers and Agile leaders in the country, contact 920 Career Agents today.
1Agile at Spark a ‘recipe for disaster’?, Daniel Vidal, Newsroom