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Agile Best Practices for Effective Team

14th Sep, 2023
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    Agile Best Practices for Effective Team

    The use of agile approaches has fundamentally transformed the information technology sector. However, what is Agile exactly? Small development cycles, or "sprints," are part of the agile project management style, which lays the emphasis on providing continual improvement to a product or service. A sprint is a set period during which the team is expected to finish a specific task. The team reviews their performance and discusses ways to improve the work at the end of each sprint. 

    Agile is the umbrella term for several frameworks and the techniques that govern them. A few well-known agile project management frameworks are Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and XP. Implementing the best Agile practices can help leverage your Agile team and make it effective. 

    Why Should Organizations Implement Agile and Require an Agile Team?

    Teamwork is a significant component of the Agile methodology. Agile teams cooperate and work together, one of the main reasons why Agile projects have a greater success rate. This is feasible as a result of the team members' excellent communication.   

    The level of efficiency that comes with using Agile tools is another reason why so many firms enjoy using Agile methodology in their teams. Agile solutions make it easy to divide difficult tasks into more digestible chunks that the team can work on. 

    Additionally, team members are kept motivated via agile methodologies. The immediate results from the short iterations allow them to view the finished, usable product because there is tangible evidence of their success. This aids individuals in staying committed to the primary objective. 

    Agile Best Practices

    Let's look at some general practices for efficient, agile project management before moving on to Agile best practices for implementing each. You can even get an Agile management certification to learn professional skills. Some of the best Agile practices used for creating an effective team include: 

    Some more Agile practices for an effective team include -  

    1. Creating the sprint backlog during a planning meeting 

    The product owner presents high-priority features at these sessions, and the team answers questions and develops specific tasks for the sprint backlog. 

    1. Encouraging self-organizing teams 

    The ability to make decisions and adjust to shifting demands is a benefit of self-organizing teams. Team members offer their services instead of waiting for the team leader to assign work. This guarantees a stronger sense of dedication and ownership. 

    1. Maintain charts to monitor progress 

    Burndown charts can be kept up to date to monitor development. A burndown chart plots the amount of work remaining against the amount of time. When estimating when all of the work will be finished is quite helpful. 

    1. Sprint retrospectives to learn from the previous sprint 

    This meeting is held to review the most recent sprint and decide what could be altered to make the following sprint more fruitful. 

    1. Sprint reviews to present work 

    The team displays the product backlog items they finished during the sprint during this meeting. A PowerPoint presentation or a demonstration of fresh features could be used. 

    1. Release planning meeting to create a release plan 

    The primary goal of the release planning meeting is for the development team to estimate the number of ideal programming weeks needed to complete each user story. The customer then determines which tale has the highest priority for completion and is the most important. 

    1. Cross training 

    The project's progress may be slowed down if only one member of your team is capable of working in a particular area and that individual decides to quit or simply has too much to accomplish. Cross-training makes your team more adaptable and helps to avoid this problem. 

    1. Creating an ideal Agile workspace where the team enjoys working 

    The following elements should be present in the ideal agile workspace: 

    • large, readable charts (a visual reminder of the current state of the project) 
    • the opportunity to observe each team member (everyone should be visible in the team workspace) 
    • massive whiteboards (at least one where developers may share problems and seek solutions) 
    • a calm and intimate setting (for relaxing, working alone or private calls) 
    1. Setting a sustainable pace 

    A manageable pace assists the team in planning releases and iterations and prevents overtime. 

    1. Estimating the projected velocity 

    Project velocity's major goal is to assist teams in estimating how much work they can complete in a specific amount of time based on how quickly earlier iterations of the same task were finished. 

    1. Always having the customer available 

    The consumer must be accessible at all times. It is preferable to designate a customer or clients to the development team. 

    1. Creating spike solutions to reduce risks 

    A very basic software to investigate potential solutions is called a spike solution. It aids in finding solutions to challenging technical or design issues. 

    1. Work together with the client 

    When needs and wishes are met, expectations are met, and requirements are satisfied, the consumer is happy. Software engineers have devised several methods, short of mindreading, to ascertain what the customer wants and provide it. At one end of the funnel, teams often record user needs before delivering the product at the other end with little to no client engagement in between. An agile team keeps in close contact with the client to clarify expectations, work on fixes, and present possibilities that hadn't been thought of before. 

    1. Build projects around motivated people 

    To push through a demanding development cycle and complete the work correctly, one needs motivation. Agile teams are committed to their job, laser-focused on the collective objective, and collegial. Agile teams create a fast-paced, predictable rhythm to their work when there is mutual trust and respect among the team members. It's challenging to create an environment where this can occur. 

    1. Transmit information in person 

    Agile team members like in-person interactions, whether discussing a challenging issue with a coworker or reporting on the day's accomplishments during a daily meeting. Progress is slowed down or blocked by information lost in a busy email box or voice mail queue. The daily meeting is the only time the complete staff gets together to discuss any problems that can result in delays. 

    Agile Best Practices: Scrum Project Management 

    Scrum is the most popular agile framework, being used by most firms. Following are a few Agile best practices of project management for the use of Scrum: 

    1. Creating The Product Vision And Backlog Together 

    A product backlog is a prioritized list of things that must be added to the product development process. Making the product backlog and product vision jointly is a smart scrum implementation technique that ensures the stakeholders and development team are on the same page. This promotes understanding between parties and improves how the vision is aligned. 

    2. Sprints Should Utilize Burndown Charts. 

    A daily burndown chart is a fantastic tool for tracking how Sprints are doing. Burndown charts visually display the amount of work completed and the remaining amount of work against time. It's a helpful tool to explain the project scope to the team and alert them to potential scope creep. These graphs aid in detecting the risks related to unfinished work as well. 

    3. Establishing Guidelines For Team Communications 

    Uninterrupted communication is essential to the Scrum methodology and, if not handled effectively, can constitute a bottleneck. To promote seamless communication, it is a good idea to create a communication strategy that includes all the necessary team communication rules.  

    4. Training For Stand-Ups 

    Stand-ups, which are brief team meetings held every day, are also referred to as "Daily Scrums." These meetings normally go no longer than 15 minutes to keep them brief. For product or project development, practicing stand-ups is a wonderful technique to track the status of the work and keeps everyone informed of any updates. The team can keep track of the dos and don'ts of product development with the help of these meetings. 

    5. Encouraging Evolutionary Development 

    Larger projects are divided into manageable pieces through agile, iterative development, and continuous tests are run repeatedly in cycles. Agile teams benefit from this method by gaining insight into new features that should be added to the finished product or service and helping to create more flexible product development.   

    6. Conducting Regular Meetings 

    Agile implementation depends on regular meetings. Each team member should explicitly state the status of work and what needs to be done during these brief and to-the-point sessions. This procedure is a terrific approach to keeping an eye on the team's performance and seeing if there are any roadblocks to creating new products. 

    7. Using Professional Tools 

    Implementing agile techniques with project management software enables the team to arrange their workflows and boost teamwork. Professional project management software can significantly reduce the effort required to handle your projects without it for accurate documentation and meeting management. 

    Agile Best Practices: Kanban Project Management

    Japan created the Kanban system to use colored cards to regulate the supply and demand of materials in the production lines. Later, it was included in other workflows as well in the form of designated task to-do lists with labels like "not started," "in progress," and "done." 

    The subsequent Agile best practices can be used to apply Kanban successfully: 

    1. Limiting Ongoing Work 

    To help the team comprehend the work that has to be done within a given timeframe, fixed restrictions for work in process place a limit on the total number of cards in the active pane. Limiting the amount of unfinished work eliminates the need to constantly rearrange priorities and makes it easier to spot bottlenecks. 

    2. Creating Workflows 

    A simple method of keeping track of tasks and highlighting roadblocks in the product development cycle is to visualize workflows as boards or cards that display the progress status of each activity. To display progress, these boards typically allow users to drag and drop tasks from one window to another. 

    3. Regular Feedback 

    Understanding how the team is progressing through the process depends on regular feedback from team members. The feedback assists in identifying potential roadblocks in the process of developing a product and in considering what has to be improved.  

    4. Putting Flow First 

    The team may keep track of overall work progress by keeping an eye on the flow of work items, which helps them determine how rapidly they should go through the process. They can more easily understand the delivery's pace and smoothness thanks to this flow. 

    Lean Development Model 

    Implementing lean manufacturing principles into project management procedures is the core of lean project management. These guidelines generally concentrate on getting rid of the trash or anything else that doesn't offer value to the work. Identifying values, cutting waste, and continual improvement are a few strategies for implementing lean project management success. 

    Extreme Programming (XP)  

    Using the extreme programming framework of agile project management, developers may produce software of greater quality while also working more productively and figuring out the best approach to work together on code. Important XP-related Agile best practices include - 

    • Planning game: Every team member should come together and participate in the planning game. 
    • Test-driven Development: Before writing the final code, continuous tests are executed to validate each line of code's functionality. 
    • Simple Design: Software with a simple design is easier to build and requires less work to fix issues. 
    • Small Releases: This idea emphasizes small releases throughout product development, operating on an iteration-like premise. 

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    Key Benefits of Using Agile

    Some of the key benefits of using agile are - 

    1. Increased awareness

    Enhancing accountability throughout the business while increasing leadership transparency requires visibility into what is being done, when, and how. Additionally, it can increase the organization's overall agility because it will be simpler to make coordinated, strategic pivots as needed to adapt to the market if everyone is on the same page. However, visibility benefits everyone in the organization, not just the top executives. The foundation for progressively expanding visibility is provided by agile principles and practices.

    2. More flexibility (agility)

    Organizations all too frequently try to resist disruption by emphasizing speed, but speed without strategy and efficiency is not a long-term solution. Working more quickly can wear out personnel, and it is not the best method to create a system that is more effective. To improve a system's effectiveness in a sustainable fashion that will result in more value for customers, many organizations are turning to Agile. Agile encourages adaptability and flexibility by reducing dependencies and complexity in organizational processes. Iterative development is a technique used by agile teams to plan and finish work in tiny increments. 

    3. Improved alignment

    Without more alignment, adaptability cannot increase. Agile alignment has both an internal and an external component. Here, two things are at play: 

    • The autonomous, self-organizing nature of Agile teams 
    • The directive to please the client through prompt and consistent delivery (which is first in the 12 guiding principles of Agile software development) 

    4. Higher-quality products 

    More and more commercial software is being purchased by corporations via subscription. Subscription models frequently make it easier to offer new software and updates while also assisting businesses in better budgeting their expenses. Subscription-based software was made possible by the agile development methodology. It still serves as a driving force for mobile software development. Updates to mobile applications happen frequently. Annual version updates for Android and iOS do place, and consumers continue to receive feature and security updates. 

    5. Higher business value

    Any Agile team's objective is to improve the value produced for the client. Without a conscious effort to create customer value, it is simple to lose sight of what should be the primary factor in business decisions. Agile gives everyone the power to make sure that work is done in a way that maximizes customer value at every level of the organization. 

    6. Improved client satisfaction

    Agile teams make sure to prioritize the client issues they need to address early on and to set clear objectives. They then start frequently releasing a functioning version of the programme to customers to demonstrate functionality during the development phase. This gives the chance for continual client input. Product owners can utilize this consumer input to give particular features top priority while adding less important features to the product backlog for later development.

    7. Reduced risk

    Successful Agile teams' members acquire new skills and knowledge while honing their current ones through work on recurring deliverables. This can result in greater degrees of personal responsibility or even new responsibilities within the firm. It also means that those team members will be more valuable for future work. One of Agile's less-discussed but most significant advantages is this. 

    Final Thoughts

    Many sectors that focus on developing products or services through a continuous cycle of incremental adjustments are widely utilizing the agile methodology. Many firms have found success in implementing Agile. However, this success depends on how effectively the best practices in Agile are being executed. As you can see, there is a wide variety of options to pick from when it comes to these Agile best practices. Understanding your team's and business's needs and then meeting those needs effectively are the keys to implementing a "best" practice.   

    The best way to scale Agile is for businesses to use it regardless of how big or complicated the project is. Small teams, short iterations, quick customer feedback, value-based business priorities, and including users in requirement refinement are all examples of effective approaches.  

    Agile methodologies are durable because of the underlying ideals and tenets that shape how people collaborate. Agile teams that prioritize cooperation, everyday engagement, individual motivation, face-to-face communication, self-organization, and continuous improvement will be more likely to succeed when they come together in businesses of all sizes. 

    The KnowledgeHut’s Agile management certification is one of the best certifications you can get online. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What are the four principles of Agile?

    According to the Agile Manifesto, the four core values of Agile software development are: valuing people over processes and tools, prioritizing working software over thorough documentation, prioritizing customer collaboration over contract negotiations, and prioritizing responding to change over sticking to a schedule. Implementing the Agile software development best practices can be helpful. 

    2. What are the three stages of agile planning? 

    The three phases of agile teams, along with helpful advice on how to get your group to the final destination of being cross-functional, self-sufficient, innovative, and constantly developing. 

    3. What are the six scrum principles?

    The following are the six scrum principles -

    • Controlling the research process 
    • Self-organization 
    • Collaboration 
    • Prioritization based on values 
    • Time-boxing 
    • Iterative development 

    4. What are the five pillars of Scrum?

    Five pillars or values—commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect—are essential for a team's success with scrum. 


    Lindy Quick

    Blog Author

    Lindy Quick, SPCT, is a dynamic Transformation Architect and Senior Business Agility Consultant with a proven track record of success in driving agile transformations. With expertise in multiple agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban, Lindy has led impactful transformations across diverse industries such as manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. Lindy's exceptional communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills have earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor. Currently associated with KnowledgeHut and upGrad, Lindy fosters Lean-Agile principles and mindset through coaching, training, and successful execution of transformations. With a passion for effective value delivery, Lindy is a sought-after expert in the field.

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