Everyone thinks that agile methodology was designed to use only in software projects. But that’s certainly not true. Agile practices can be used by any team that would like to think a little differently and work in a more flexible way. Many non-tech organizations use agile to improve productivity and deliver products in every step of their work. It’s popular in industries like marketing, education and automotive manufacturing. The reason why agile methodology developed particularly in IT projects is that IT Teams started adopting it very quickly. In a short period of time, they achieved great results, teams became more collaborative and productivity increased. It all resulted in clients being much more satisfied. Since then one third of all the teams around the world have already applied agile mindset and agile principles in their projects.
One of the best and at the same time the hardest things in agile is the main goal: to execute tasks that the team had set up in Planning. Just imagine:
The team makes small steps and each action brings everyone closer to the successful end. The whole process is visible to clients. The team makes progress and shows it. Everything goes smoothly and everyone knows what to do.
Sounds perfect, don’t you think? So, how to bring this idealistic vision to life? In fact, hardly ever do the teams use 100% of agile methodology in their work. It’s more like a mix of enterprise rules, tactics and agile (usually using the most popular frameworks in agile: Scrum, Kanban, XP) with an emphasis put on staying effective and productive. Being dedicated only to the agile methodology is quite rare among the teams.
What parts of agile can you implement into your non-tech projects?
- TIME TRACKING
Organize your work into 2-4 weeks periods. Before and after every period you should meet with the team to prepare work for the next few weeks and discuss what was good and what was bad about the last period. In the meeting before the start of a new period try to estimate your availability and how many hours you will spend on each duty. You should choose only the tasks that you have the time for. The time dedicated to your tasks should be shorter than your working hours. Allowing this extra time will make you sure that you’ll manage to complete your tasks, even if something unexpected happens.
- FOCUSING ON THE MOST IMPORTANT TASKS
During your work, you should focus only on the most important actions that will bring you closer to the main goal. Don’t waste your time on actions that won’t give you anything useful: any chance for a new cooperation, any new possibility, any new partner or any progress in your project. Create a list of your tasks (in Scrum it’s called “Backlog”) and sort them out into different categories, for example “the most important” or “characteristics of actions” etc. If you update it regularly, you’ll create a complete plan for the next few weeks.
Give access to the board with tasks to the whole team, as well as stakeholders. Let them see progress and other teammates’ work. You should communicate well with each other so informing the team about others’ duties, problems and blockades is very important. This way you can help each other and be sure that the more important tasks won’t get duplicated, so you’re saving the time.
Try to be honest with the team and with each other. Being open builds the feelings of trust and safety in members. Meet with the team and clients regularly. It can be via Skype or teleconference. It’s important for the team to communicate directly with the client and be aware of their comments and suggestions. You can do it on a Sprint review, where you check what went well and what needs improvement and share your ideas for the future. Don’t be shy to share your opinion with others, even if it’s different from theirs. But try to gather good arguments!
Implementing agile into a non-tech teams
Do you know the reason why you’re searching for the agile methodology? Which part of work needs to be changed in your teams? Do you already know how the agile methodology can help you? If yes, it will be easy to match your problems, in other words – the questions that you have, with agile principles – the answers. If not, you have to define why you want to use agile and what would you like to achieve while using it. They say that even badly implemented agile can be much of a help, so don’t be scared to try.
Implementing agile is easier than it looks. The only thing you need is a will to do it.. There are no strict rules or programs that will tell you what to do, when to do it and how. It’s very flexible and you can adjust it to your own needs.
Is your team having problems with communication? Solutions for this will be regular meetings, shared board of tasks, like Trello (it’s free), and daily little 5-minute stand-ups where everyone can voice their plans and concerns. These meetings should be very quick, focused only on essentials. Avoid big discussions and speculations. You don’t need that now and it’s not the time for such things.
As you can see, it’s not that hard, but only needs some time and some good will. I hope that after reading this short article, you’ve not only grasped the basics of applying agile practices in a non-tech team, but also realized that it’s a simple and effective working method that can help your teams in finishing any project successfully. Good luck!
In case you’re wondering if your team is ready for agile thinking or if you’re not sure if it’s the best solution for you, listen to: TED Talks called “Agile programming – for your family”. I hope it will help you find a final answer to your doubts. Also, check out our other articles about Project Management.