Agility is a key trait in many of today’s top businesses. Think about the response to the pandemic—businesses in all industries and of all sizes had to shift gears amid an unprecedented crisis. Many businesses embraced agility at scale when they were forced to adopt an agile management strategy and thrived when accepting the sudden challenges in a volatile and uncertain world. For example, it worked extremely well to accommodate the hybrid workplace model.
The supply chain crisis also called for businesses in multiple industries to adopt agile planning philosophies to withstand the complex, multi-layered issues that caused the crisis as well as the ones that resulted from it. From brick-and-mortar retail shops and e-commerce websites to last-mile logistics delivery companies, many companies have turned to agile practices to keep things moving and key players (both employees and customers) connected.
An April 2022 Forbes article noted, “A new study from digital.ai found the adoption of agile has increased from 37% to 86% for software development teams,” and perhaps not surprisingly, the “adoption has doubled for non-IT groups.”
The agile management style—one that is lean and supports each member individually while also promoting higher team functionality—can help disrupt the status quo in many organizations in multiple industries, providing greater communication, flexibility, transparency, and results. But is it right for your organization? Let’s dig deeper into what it is, and what it could do for your team.
What Is Agile?
Agile is an approach to organizational management and leadership that focuses on collaboration, flexibility, iterative development, and continuous improvement. It came from the software development industry’s project management practices and lean management principles, focusing on delivering more value with less waste.
Today, businesses in several sectors and industries are discovering the value of Agile principles.
- An agile framework doesn’t completely ignore traditional team project management, but it can provide increased freedom and versatility for talented teams in the following ways:
- It focuses on people working together effectively while less encumbered by rigid tools and processes that might be outdated at the time of the current project.
- It allows agile team members to focus more on the creative aspect of software development (or whatever other project) than a need to document every detail in the moment. This approach can allow team members to focus on creation—all while refining products faster.
- Agile encourages project team members to work closely with clients to understand their needs. This can help provide a high-impact customer experience that promotes satisfaction and brand loyalty.
It acknowledges the value of a plan but allows adjustments and accommodations to serve the project itself first. The goal of agile management is that a team can make changes on the fly to the technology, the environment, budgets or priorities, and everyone’s understanding of the problem and its best solution.
Where Does the Term “Agile” Come From?
Agile, in the context of business processes and management, was coined in the 1990s by the manufacturing industry, born out of the concepts of lean manufacturing and production and flexible manufacturing systems.
What Was the Manifesto for Agile Software Development?
In 2001, a group of 17 software developers known as the “Agile Alliance” met to create a document that identified four key values and 12 principles to help them do their work more effectively and easily. They felt that the previous development processes were too complicated, with too many silos, and a lack of responsiveness—while focusing too greatly on ongoing documentation.
Using their combined experience, they wanted to help their people, and other software development teams, by declaring the following core values:
- Focus on individuals and interactions over tools and processes. For example, take time to listen to user stories.
- Focus on working software and results over comprehensive documentation.
- Focus on active engagement and collaboration with customers versus strictly adhering to a contract or contract negotiations.
- Focus on responding to the need for adjustments and adaptation over following an ironclad plan without room for adjustments.
But, the authors of the manifesto didn’t take an all-or-nothing attitude toward factors like documentation, for instance. Instead, they wanted accepted models and documentation to have a clear and beneficial use to the process rather than for the sake of creating more red tape to cut through.
Why Is Agile Different from Typical Team Management?
As a relatively newer project management methodology, you might wonder how agile differs from the typical or traditional project or team management approach an organization might use—and how it disrupts those traditional approaches.
Agile principles are designed to allow for more seamless collaboration, feedback, and flexibility to ensure faster and more thorough success in bringing high-quality products to market. Agile methodology and coaching should focus on bringing together stakeholders, developers, programmers, and end-users to support the underlying principles.
This management methodology encourages and facilitates ongoing conversations and regular communication as a primary means of measuring progress with incremental development. However, “incremental” movement doesn’t necessarily translate to slowing down the process.
In fact, team member input—and, importantly, user input—ultimately allows for a more effective, functional, and satisfying final product. It may make sense for your business or project to slow down the process to make room for meaningful feedback and product improvement.
How do the goals of Agile Differ from Traditional Project Management?
One of the ways agile disrupts an organization is with the goals it seeks. For teams considering how to apply agile principles, the primary aims include things like:
- Breaking down barriers and allowing for communication between the development team and the product owner, allowing the product owner to be part of the process driving toward development.
- Explaining ways to maximize their ROI and meet the product owner’s objectives.
- Facilitating creativity and empowerment for the development team, thus helping to improve their process and their lives throughout the project.
- Improving development productivity in a variety of ways
On the flip side, in a typical project management setting, a project manager‘s directive is to focus on the project outcome, including factors like:
- Communication between teams
The core difference is that traditional project management focuses on the project, and agile focuses on the team, the stakeholders, and the users to ensure the product’s ultimate success.
What Are the Key Benefits of Agile for Your Organization?
Does the way agile can disrupt typical management sound appealing? Fortunately, there are many advantages of agile for your organization, including things like:
- It can drive the adaptability and flexibility needed in today’s competitive business landscape.
- It can allow for the development of a consistent strategy that results in successful product delivery.
- The built-in communication can help to build trust with customers, clients, and stakeholders.
- The continuous communication between team members provides transparency, allowing everyone to know what everyone is working on at all times.
- It can lead to greater innovation, leadership, and teammate support and empowerment.
If you’re considering implementing an agile approach to team or project management, there are some questions to ask about how it can impact your goals and results. Could an agile approach provide greater flexibility, speed, and results that make sense for your organization, projects, and team members? Only you can know that.
But, when you’re ready, our talented team can help you find the experts needed to implement agile project management for your business. If you need help filling open project management positions see how Insight Global can help connect you with top industry talent.