Being More Agile

A new year comes with new year resolutions and new release logos. Clearly the theme here must be about being Agile.

Every individual and organisation can benefit from becoming more agile in 2018.

In 2006 Salesforce made the switch from a waterfall approach to agile in order to improve productivity within a growing global engineering team.

We should probably start by defining the basics and what is ‘Agile’. In essence this approach help teams respond to unpredictability through incremental, iterative work cadences, known as Sprints. Agile methodologies are an alternative to waterfall, or traditional project management / sequential development. (More on why we need an alternative here)

With that switch Salesforce increased productivity by 38% and major releases were completed 60% faster!

At its core Agile is a mindset. A mindset which promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

There are quite a few factors, frameworks, values, principles, techniques etc. But if I am to transition any organisation into Agile I will likely start with two things:

  1. Visual representation of the work in progress
  2. Retrospectives

The first gives a huge amount of transparency and in fact enables the existence of the second. Which is, at the end of every cycle, to look back and cover the following with the team:

  • What did we set ourselves out to do?
  • What actually happened?
  • Why?
  • What are we going to do next time?

To optimise these two things there is a third concept that comes quite handy which is the Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF) or Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which brings the below benefits:

  • Goes to market earlier so it gets feedback earlier.
  • Shows the product to find out what is really wanted.
  • Moves away from idea of a project (with a start & end) to a product (as long as the product exists, potential increment of value exists)
  • This gives us the ability to develop a subset of high-value features first, incorporating feedback sooner.

* For an MVP to work, needs ‘ruthless’ prioritisation.

In a sense it works similarly to the modular idea we covered it in the previous post about Salesforce DX.

If you want some more practical ideas on how to implement an MVP in your work life, check out our Dreamforce talk on Make the Jump to Lightning …And Get It Right First Time!

Agile has been around for years: the manifesto was agreed in 2001 but already emerged more than 20 years ago. Agile is a derivative, or we could call it an enhancement, from Lean Management.

But “it’s never too late” and wherever you are right now, from the spectrum between more traditional approaches and agile, it’s a start. The closer to agile you can get (by increments, of course) the more successful you will be in whatever you do, as you will quickly adapt in this ever-changing world.

 

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