There was a point when Agile was largely regarded as a series of management practices that were centered around software development but it has subsequently became the go-to philosophy for project management principles and practices.
As this guide illustrates there are plenty of compelling reasons why so many businesses are adopting agile practices, both in terms of how it can help boost team productivity and help you manage changing priorities but also because it creates the ability to enjoy software and IT delivery and quality.
You may well find that agile becomes one of those activities and disciplines that just seems to make more sense the more you adopt its practices.
Here is a look at some of those important lessons that you can learn from agile.
A way to make tasks more manageable
What agile illustrates is that it often pays to break the work you are trying to down into more manageable segments rather than viewing something as a whole.
Breaking it down like this allows you to prioritize each section of the project and give it your undivided attention, creating a greater quality overall when all the parts come together.
Learning the value of forced communication
You will find that agile communications are already fine-tuned processes that are designed to help streamline your business and it is good to know that everything is going to plan on a daily basis.
By having a daily catchup with everyone in the team it creates the ability to bring ideas and problems to the table and deal with them efficiently.
Let the process guide you when it comes to prioritizing
A key benefit of agile development is that it provides you with the structure to guide you on creating a set of priorities for a project that you can work your way through in order.
The work is broken down into so-called sprints and agile gives you the framework to focus on what matters most first and foremost.
Strength in numbers
Some might argue that probably the most important lesson you might gain from working with agile is that it shows you how the strength and collective might of a team adds up to a greater force than any individual can hope to achieve.
Agile teams tend to be small in number to work best and that means that each member of that small team has a crucial role to play, causing everyone in that small collective to raise their game under the spotlight.
It is better to find a way to fix a problem rather than apportion blame
Another agile philosophy that is clearly worthy of mention here is that it is a system that encourages you to focus your attention on solving a problem rather than waste valuable energy on finding someone to blame.
Agile is all about teamwork and working together to solve is a valuable management lesson to take on board.
It teaches you to value progress over process
Agile actively encourages you to experiment with new ideas and adopt any of these that show they are able to produce the best results.
In other words, if you have a current process but find an alternative way that works better, adopt it and change direction because you don’t want a process to ever get in the way of progress if you can help it.
Create a shared understanding
Agile uses what is referred to as a user story format and what this involves is the creation of open discussion and interaction that invites contributions from all members of the team.
It is a way of finding a shortcut to the traditional method of exchanging documents that are subsequently edited and reviewed again, which all takes time and creates the opportunity for miscommunication as well.
The user story format helps to ensure that everyone is on the page with each stage of the project.
Always have trust in your numbers
If you are using an agile management tool like JIRA, which is designed to estimate certain story points and update sub-tasks as you go along, you will already know that this delivers a plethora of data and useful information that allows you to see if your project is on track.
There might be some scenarios where the agile version report is providing you with data that you either don’t want to believe or don’t fall in line with your own estimates.
The valuable lesson to gain from this sort of situation is that it almost always pays to have faith in the numbers are seeing from the reports rather than deciding to have faith in your own estimations instead.
If the data is not telling you what you want to hear and see that should not be a reason for ignoring the data. Instead, it’s far better to accept what the data is telling you and chart a course based on what you know rather than what you think you know.
Be disciplined with your user stories
The first thing to say is that creating actionable user stories can be a time-consuming task but it is made easier if you learn how to break them done into more manageable sizes.
Secondly, the suggestion is that you should always aim to wait for each user story to reach the top of your backlog before you spending too much time and energy on them.
What you will often discover is that more important priorities will often jump in ahead of other stories that are already in the system and if you have spent time on tasks that are lower down the pecking order you might end up spending time that could have been better spent elsewhere.
What these lessons should tell you overall is that agile places a higher value on individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
The thinking behind that is simple, without an agile mindset these tools and processes are unlikely to allow you to achieve as much.