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Demystifying the Agile Project Methodology

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An Agile project methodology can provide numerous benefits, but simply deciding to implement an Agile methodology can’t solve all your problems on its own. “Agile” is not a secret password that unlocks new avenues the second it is uttered.

It’s the same as purchasing any software or business solution. Unless you understand how to incorporate it into your organization correctly and leverage it the right way, you won’t realize all the benefits.

At Veracity, we have a long history of helping companies deliver exceptional projects through a variety of Agile methodologies. If we haven’t seen it all, we’re pretty close. So, I’m going to break down two of the most common challenges when working in Agile, but first, let’s get on the same page of what we’re talking about when we talk Agile.

Core Principles and Methodologies

Agile methodology is all about breaking massive projects into phases – or sprints – and delivering as you go rather than waiting and launching all aspects at the end of the lifecycle. With this approach are four principles that users of the methodology value over other options:

  • Weighing individuals and interactions
  • Developing working software
  • Encouraging customer collaboration
  • Responding to change

But with Agile comes a handful of myths: that there is no planning, that it doesn’t scale, that it doesn’t control scope, and that it doesn’t solve resource problems. These aren’t true.

The point of an Agile approach is to succeed and adapt quicker through incremental delivery. By not waiting until everything is complete to begin launching aspects of the project, you are able to get feedback from customers and users more quickly, identify issues earlier, more quickly provide measurable ROI, and adapt more seamlessly with the ever-evolving business landscape.

These values of an Agile methodology also come with challenges. Let’s look at two of those and offer ways to overcome them.

Collaboration vs Communication

Team interactions are key to Agile, but that doesn’t just mean putting an emphasis on communicating what you’re working on with the team. This methodology is designed to drive frequent, in-person collaboration between groups.

But as we know, in a post-COVID world and with technology advancements allowing regions of global – or even nationwide – companies to work together better, in-person meetings aren’t always possible. For Agile to work in a national or global setting, you must drive collaboration with resources in remote locations and across multiple time zones.

Set up dedicated times each day in a virtual location where resources can self-organize, interact, and work through problems as they arise. Video is recommended – whether Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or another platform – but by phone can also still be effective if everyone is present.

Then, also create dedicated, 24-hour threads and channels on Slack, Teams, etc. so the team can be notified and respond in real time, rather than losing time on an email response in a crowded inbox.

Removing the Burden of Incremental Deliveries

As I mentioned above, making more frequent project deployments carries with it a ton of benefits. But it can also be a weight on teams. If you’re managing projects in a shared environment with a manually intensive process, your team could be spending a lot of time each time you push a new deployment.

Look at leveraging a deployment automation tool that can help automate tasks. This not only reduces the number of times the task is repeated, cutting down on deployment man hours, but it also eliminates human error. Another area where automation can provide value is in automated quality assurance testing tools. This will reduce the number of hours your resources spend testing, while also providing validation to your deliveries more quickly compared to individual-executed test cases.

You Don’t Have to Do it Alone

The majority of project stakeholders at your company are not expert project managers. And they’re not supposed to be. That’s why it’s always beneficial to work with a partner who not only understands the various methodologies, but also lives and breathes the ins and outs of project delivery on a daily basis. A good partner can help you evaluate your strategies, tools, and processes to help improve the deployment lifecycle in an Agile framework.

About the Author

Ryan Grantham is a project manager and interface lead at Veracity with deep experience in program management, project analysis, and communications integration.