Do you know what Agile methodology is? It is a tool that allows you to innovate your company by making it more competitive and dynamic.
Today’s markets are undergoing major transformations. These transformations require greater operational flexibility on the part of companies, which translates into a drive for digitization and optimization of workflows.
To make these innovative processes possible, many companies are investing in the Agile methodology.
Would you like to know more? Then read on; in this article, I will explain:
- What is meant by Agile methodology;
- how the company could benefit from the application of Agile principles;
- how the Agile method works;
- pros and cons of the Agile methodology and a successful example.
If, then, you are interested in understanding how to innovate your company, the best way to do this is through the business innovation course. A course specifically designed to digitize business processes and train employees and collaborators accordingly.
Agile methodology: definition and use
The Agile methodology by definition is a set of techniques and practices aimed at optimizing the workflow, making project management more flexible and faster.
In the early 2000s, the Agile methodology was used exclusively in software development project management. With time, it was realized that this organizational structure would be able to facilitate project management in many other areas.
Thanks to the Agile methodology, companies were able to innovate their businesses by radically changing the approach that had always been used.
We no longer speak of a linear and premeditated scheme, but rather of an approach that is based on the efficiency and speed of the workflow and the ability to correct errors in the process or to implement sudden changes.
Agile vs. Waterfall methodology
In many companies, the Waterfall method has been replaced by the Agile method. Indeed, over the past 10 years, the technological world has transformed business processes and organizational systems, and the Agile method offered customers what they really needed: more quality at a higher speed.
What strongly differentiates the two models is their structure. The Waterfall method follows a sequential order, which means that the organizational process created has been segmented into distinct and premeditated steps.
The Agile method, on the other hand, offers an innovative approach based on iterative development, flexibility, and speed, components that allow any element that does not suit the customer to be modified according to his needs and requirements.
Today, it is possible to use both methods. Everything depends, however, on the objective of the project: if there is a predetermined, well-organized, and problem-free project, it is correct to choose the Waterfall method.
If, on the other hand, the project requires a high degree of flexibility and continuous updating between the team and the ‘potential client’, the method to be used is Agile.
Agile in the management of corporate digitization
The Agile method has revolutionized the business sector, at a time when it seems impossible to keep up with the constant evolutions and changes that surround us. Companies must respond quickly to all kinds of change and develop new products, services, and business models. They must also innovate internal processes in order to be more competitive.
The Agile method succeeds in responding to the needs of companies by creating an organizational system that enables them to create more dynamic, faster, flexible, and structure-free projects, taking not only the project but also the innovation of the company itself to another level.
Thanks to the Agile methodology, innovation processes such as corporate digitization are made more fluid and effective. To foster Digital Transformation, being agile, i.e. being able to change a situation quickly and effectively, is crucial.
This is because digital is a world characterized by rapid and continuous change, to which it is necessary to adapt extremely quickly. This is why a method that helps to modify and adapt projects promptly to changes in the digital environment is fundamental.
How the Agile method works
The Agile methodology is characterized by the absence of design. The approach evolves in flexible iterative cycles. The cycles are short and are called sprints, lasting approximately two to three weeks. In this time frame, each member of the project team must be able to complete all the tasks assigned to them.
After the completion of each stage, the results must be sent in order to check the progress of the roles. At this point, the process starts all over again and you work to fine-tune everything for the next delivery.
The success of an Agile methodology comes from a critically chosen team. The team that deals with this type of project is called an Agile Team. It differs from classic teams because it is composed of groups of autonomous people who are free to make decisions according to their roles.
To create an Agile team, it is necessary to find a small group of people (of 3, maximum 7 elements) who possess the necessary knowledge for the realization of common goals. Only the creation of a focused and concentrated Agile team can lead to a successful project.
Principles of the Agile Manifesto
The birth of the Agile methodology dates back to 2001 when a group of IT specialists decided to get together to find fundamental principles that would bring innovation to software development.
Thanks to this meeting, the Manifesto was created, a document that talks about project management and explains in detail how to make the customer the center of the project through innovative practices and techniques.
What does the Agile Manifesto say? This important document focuses on 12 principles:
- Give the customer innovation tools from the very first moment and continuously over time.
- Accommodating changes in requirements, even at advanced stages of development.
- Make quick deliveries, with intervals of a few weeks, always trying to keep things short.
- Teaming up and working together on a daily basis throughout the project.
- Create projects that incentivize the team to be motivated and efficient.
- Communicate in person with each component in the project, so that communication is always clear and open for all.
- Functioning software is what allows progress to be measured.
- Agile processes stimulate sustainable innovation.
- Enhancing agility with a constant focus on technical excellence linked to an excellent design structure.
- Optimizing the quality of work in a simple way.
- Project definition by the Agile team, thanks to the total decision-making autonomy given to them.
- Frequent meetings between Agile team members to understand how to be more efficient and which strategies to use.
The manifesto was the starting point for a revolutionary innovation process and, even today, its essential principles are still considered guidelines for creating a project with an optimal structure.
Most used frameworks
Agile frameworks are processes that enable companies to improve their productivity and dynamism. There are different types, but the most widely used are Scrum and Kanban.
The Scrum method was created by computer scientist Jeff Sutherland and is based on the division of time, product, and organization in order to optimize project phases, thus guaranteeing excellent results. It originated, as with all Agile methodologies, in the world of software innovation but, over time, was also introduced to other sectors such as marketing, sales, and human resources.
It is based on three fundamental principles:
- Principle of Transparency – all information and activities must be available to every team member;
- Inspection Principle – tasks performed are monitored periodically in daily meetings, allowing the team to prove quality and innovation;
- Adaptation Principle – after the inspection, all activities are evaluated and checked again, so that if there are problems, there is always time to correct them. Meetings are held to obtain feedback for points to be changed and the path to be followed for new sprints (planning); this ensures that work cycles are optimized and gaps are reduced.
In the team using this approach, there are roles that are crucial to the success of a project:
- Scrum Master (SM) – the person who monitors the team’s processes, checking whether there are any issues to be resolved during the project.
- Product Owner (PO) – project manager and customer/stakeholder representative.
- Development Team (DT) – the multifunctional group responsible for the analysis, development, and implementation of the product or service.
Kanban is a labor-management method created in the early 1940s by the Toyota automobile company. The company introduced the concept of just-in-time manufacturing, which was a work philosophy aimed at identifying and optimizing waste in production, and Kanban came to the rescue, becoming a tool to facilitate this process.
In the 21st century, leading software professionals realized that the Kanban approach could be used to positively change the work process of a product or service.
The Kanban method is an efficient way to provide greater control over business processes. It is a methodology for organizing the production flow, making the work team much more focused on priority objectives. This approach works in such a way that problems can be solved with better and faster results for customers.
Introducing this system into your company is very easy because you can introduce it into existing processes, making it much more open than others. In fact, very often, companies use the Scrum and Kanban methods together to cover all the gaps in the organizational system.
Just as in the Agile Scrum methodology, Kanban also has practices to be observed and followed:
- Visualization: through the Kanban board (blackboard used for work schematization), the various tasks can be identified. The main objective is to make each step clear to everyone.
- Limitation: the Kanban board is always divided into several columns (minimum 3-4), and specific tasks are assigned in each column. The team members thus have an efficient and complete workflow.
- Management: During the implementation of the process, it is possible to find problems or blockages. When faced with such situations, it is essential to make the team focus on removing these blockages.
- Regulation: guidelines designed to make the process clear.
- Feedback: this element is at the heart of every project, as it is only through feedback that you can modify and improve your work. Precisely for this reason, exactly as in the Scrum methodology, it is necessary to have frequent meetings, thus having daily updates on organizational processes.
- Kaizen: process according to which one has to improve one’s system continuously by means of Kanban.
Whether you want to use the Scrum method or the Kanban method, the certainty is that with these tools, your company will be able to optimize your workflow and take your business to the next level.
Advantages and disadvantages of Agile methodology
The Agile methodology is a revolutionary approach to project management, the objective of which is to respond to customer needs quickly and clearly.
There are several benefits such as:
- Faster delivery times
- Higher frequency of feedback
- Priority to meet specific customer needs
- Optimal project management
- Looser organizational structure
- Optimizing workflows
- Rapid implementation of solutions
- Greater flexibility on possible modifications or changes
- Special focus on targeted objectives.
As for the disadvantages, though few, it is important to know them in order to be able to make the right decision for your business.
- Poor planning of project resources: the Agile methodology has a looser structure, consisting of short work cycles. This makes it difficult to predict what the costs will be, the time that will be spent, and the resources required for the project. This may become difficult when dealing with more complex projects.
- Disorderly functions: during the organizational process, it is not possible to give defined roles in all sections. A lack of definition could be confusing as to which tasks are to be realized, leading to temporary blockages.
- Flexible Deadline: Flexibility is one of the pillars of the Agile methodology, but at the same time it could be a disadvantage because having short work cycles that are constantly being updated, it can happen that due to modifications or changes, the set deadline is not met.
In summary, the Agile methodology can be used by everyone, but you must first understand what the needs and objectives of your company are so that you can choose the best approach, capable of giving you clear results right from the start.
Agile Methodology: Example of Success in Digital Marketing
The Agile methodology is a tool used by many international companies. Among the most famous companies, there is one that uses it in the field of digital marketing: Mozilla.
Mozilla is a software company, famous worldwide for the creation of the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird e-mail client.
Mozilla’s Senior Director of Marketing, Chad Weiner, together with his team of 100 people is currently carrying out a long-term experiment to test and validate the application of Agile in their online and offline marketing system. Chad Weiner has documented this journey through a series of posts on Medium, a free blogging platform.
Like many corporate teams, they had problems with silos, and with a large number of incoming requests, without having clear objectives. Team members tended to hoard work in order to gain power, but this often negatively affected the quality of their services.
This led to meta principle #1: design an organization to improve the frequency and quality of communication within the marketing sector.
Moreover, it was difficult to make two big launches a year. In a post, Chad Weiner recalls that “we were actually working twelve months on two big bets. And the cycles were exhausting.”
To counteract this problem, it created durable teams of 5-7 people with as many generalists as possible. This strategy worked well and helped to organize teams based on core KPIs, i.e. on improving Firefox retention rates, or on important channels such as e-mail.
This led to a providential improvement of the workflow, and thanks to the Agile methodology, the Mozilla company finally overcame project management problems, thus providing a better customer experience.
Conclusions and Strategic Advice
The journey of discovery of the Agile methodology, its pillars, frameworks, and applications in business contexts ends here. I hope I have given you some useful information, especially if you are thinking of embarking on a path of technological and digital innovation in your company.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to innovate, I recommend that you contact experienced professionals. They will guide you in defining the best path for you, depending on your type of business.
Improve business processes and increase turnover by applying the Agile method to digital transformation. Contact an expert and start implementing change now!