How to apply agile practices in non-tech team?
Everybody thinks that agile methodology was designed to use only in software projects. But the truth is different. Agile practices can be used by every team which would like to think a little different and work in a 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 auto manufacturing. The fact why agile methodology so rapidly developed 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, productiveness increased and clients were much happier. And now third of all teams around the world employed agile mindest and principles in their projects.
One of the best thing in agile and at the same time the hardest is the main goal to execute tasks which team set up in Planning. Clients see that team makes small steps and each action brings everybody closer to end and success. The team makes progress and shows it, the process is going and everyone knows what to do. So how to bring to this idealistic illusion to live? In fact, rarely teams use 100% of agile methodology in their work. It’s more like a mix of enterprise rules, tactics and agile (one from the most popular frameworks in agile: Scrum, Kanban, XP) with big impact to stay effective and productive as being whole agile.
What parts of agile you can implement into your non-tech projects?
- TRACKING TIME
Organize your work into 2-4 weeks periods. Before and after every period you should meet with the team to prepare work for next weeks and tell what was good/bad in the last ones. On meeting before try to estimate your availability and how many hours you will spend on each duty. You should choose only those for what you have time. Task’s hours should be less than you work’s hours to be sure that you will be able to do everything even if something unexpected will have shown.
- FOCUSING ON MOST IMPORTANT TASKS
During your work, you should focus only on the most important actions which will bring you closer to the main goal. Don’t waste your time on actions which won’t give you anything = any chance to new cooperation, any new possibility, any new partner, any step in your project. Create a list of your tasks (in Scrum it’s called “Backlog”) and sort them out by the most important/ characters of actions etc.. If you will update it regularly you will have a ready plan for the next few weeks.
Give access to the board with tasks for the whole team and stakeholders. Let them see progress and others work. You should communicate well with each other so information about others’ duties, problems and blockers are important. You could help each other, but what is more important tasks won’t be duplicated so you save time.
Try to be honest with the team and each other. Being openness build trust and safety in members. Meet with the team and clients regularly. It can be via Skype or teleconference but it’s important for the team to communicate directly with the client and learn about his comments and suggestions. You can do it on Sprint review where you check what went well and what needs improvement and share your ideas for the future. Don’t be shy to tell others your (different) opinion but try to gather good arguments.
Implementing agile into non-tech teams
Do you know why you are looking for agile methodology? Which part of work needs to change in your teams? Do you already know how agile methodology can help you? If yes, it will be easy to match agile principles – answers with problems – questions. If not you have to define why do you want to use agile and what would you like to achieve with it. Someone said that even badly implemented agile could help, so don’t be scared to try it.
Implementing agile is easier than it looks only if you want to do it. Because there aren’t any strict rules, programs which will tell you what to do, when, how etc. It’s very flexible and you can adjust these to your own needs.
Do you have problems with communication? Solution for this will be regular meetings, shared board like Trello (it’s free) and daily little 5-minutes stand-ups where everybody can say what they want to do today, about eventually blockers/plans etc. These meetings should be very quick with only essentials. Avoid big discussions about not the most important things or speculations. You don’t need that now and that’s not the time for such things.
As you see it’s not hard but only needs some will and time. I’m sure that you get it and with some help implement some of these in your teams and project. Good luck.
If you are wondering if your team is ready for agile thinking or is it the best solution for you, listen TED Talks called “Agile programming – for your family”. I hope you find there a final answer to your doubts. Look at our other articles about Project Management.