Call Comurce
+44 (0)20 3890 5583 (Freephone)
Login
Call Comurce
+44 (0)20 3890 5583 (Freephone)
Login

Whether you’ve introduced Agile project management into your organisation already, or are looking to do so, there are some key tips you should use to ensure it runs smoothly and as intended.

Whatever the industry, agile project management has proven to be a highly vital element of many companies’ productivity and success. However, it is not always easy to implement good project management programs. You can prevent your project getting derailed by following our five top tips below.

Do not call Agile…. “Agile”.

The term Agile has become overused, even misused, by some. In some organisations, the term Agile even has a negative connotation and ringing true with terms such as “no documentation”,“no requirements”, or even “developer centred”. Additionally, the term “Agile”raises dogma, a religious-like drive to have an “all or nothing” implementation of all things that are Agile.

The term “Agile” occasionally raises an unclear end-state that seems unattainable or even impractical to some organisations. So, it is best to lay off putting labels to these practices with “Agile” if theorganisation does not really have a good idea of it, and still get the results that you are looking for.

Take Time-boxed Communication Meetings Seriously

A huge part of “Agile” is an acknowledgement that, we, as humans correspond more efficiently when we are face-to-face. Other methods can be deemed wasteful. We like to discuss face-to-face so we can clearly see each other’s facial expressions, body language, and shared conversation which adds up to the overall effectiveness of a collaboration.

To make these meetings more effective, consider placing a time-box around them to ensure that everyone is focused. However, it is also important to not mistake this with having more meetings. Implementing this technique correctly will result in having fewer,more effective and more efficient meetings that focus on better team communication.

Beginning with a 15-minute daily stand up meeting is a great jumpstart to this technique. This is the sort of meeting where the team basically acknowledges that they are working on a specific project, and if they are having troubles with it.

Next, schedule a bi-weekly meeting with a show-and-tell theme. This is to show off what the team has accomplished during a specific time period with your clients. If it is impossible for every team member to attend this meeting face-to-face, consider other methods of higher-bandwidth communication such as using Skype or other similar video conference application for a group conference.  

It is important to always remember to NEVER rely on emails for your primary form of communication. Using this method to discuss a project can easily lose meaning and intent, or worse, information sent across email can be misinterpreted.

Always Be Visible

As part of a team that uses Agile as a form of project management, one must always find a way to effectively and simply communicate with other members regarding the progress being made in a project.

Our team would like to stress that it should be a very simple and highly visible board that shows what people are working on, traditionally called a Kanban board. These days, many agile teams have transitioned to digital Kanban boards with advanced features for organising work and tasks for the team.

Make Sure to Conduct Regular Checkups

Conducting regular team checkups ensures that you are all doing what needs to be done in order for the project and the team to maintain optimum “health”. 

These checkups do not need to be a formal meeting, it can simply be a breakfast meeting, or a group conversation over pizza on a Friday afternoon.

The goal is for the team to get together to chat about what they believe is going well with the project as well as what areas need fixing.

Always Define What Was “Done”

Instead of having random numbers that characterise what is “done”, you can instead create a checklist that qualifies something to be considered as “done”, agreed by the whole team.  In this case, a “done” checklist can be really helpful to analyse tasks as well as any other process in the project’s development.

Checklists are fairly easy to create and to use. You can use this checklist during your regular checkups to add or remove items from it. Doing this will continue to capture the team’s improvement and consistency.

All of these Agile project management techniques will come in handy to manage chaos in any organisation. Of course,these techniques should not contradict with any other methods or models that you are using, but if using Agile, these techniques can help you along your journey of adopting even more Agile practices.

Mark Twain once said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Although Mark Twain was not a software development manager, his words still rings true when it comes to how one can get started in using or adopting techniques on Agile project management.

Are there any alternatives to Agile software delivery?

Why of course!

Before the Agile framework came about, companies used more traditional methods to manage their projects. These days,although it is almost uncommon for software development companies or any IT related companies to not use the Agile methodology, there are still groups and organisations that use either the traditional method or some other project management techniques and tools to achieve the utmost productivity and eventually, success in their projects.

And although Agile has been one of the leading project management techniques over the last few decades, it might not always work for a team or an organisation for a variety of reasons. This leads to organisations to venture into other methods of project management that will suit their needs best.

In this article, we will discuss our two best Agile alternatives.

Spiral Development

The Spiral Model is one of the most used methods lately. It is actually a combination of both the waterfall method and the iterative method. Each period in the spiral model starts with a design objective and ends with the client assessing the progress. The spiral model or method was first cited by Barry Boehm in his 1986 paper, a few years before the Agile framework took the world by storm in the early 90’s.

The Spiral model development team usually starts with a small set of requirements and goes through each development period for those set of requirements. The software engineering department or team then adds the functionality for the additional requirement in every developing spiral up until the application is perfectly ready for the production period.

When to use Spiral Methodology

The Spiral model is best used when the project is large, when it requires frequent releases, when it is applicable to create a prototype or when the risk and costs evaluation is of utmost importance.

It can also be used when the requirements are complex and unclear, when a project requires constant changes at any time,and when a long-term project is not feasible because of changes in terms of economic priorities.

Advantages of Spiral Development

Disadvantages of Spiral Development

Waterfall Method

The Waterfall Method is one of the most well-known project management methods next to Agile. The Waterfall method for project management is simply a chronological, direct process of project management. It consists of numerous distinct periods where no period begins until the previous period is completed. Additionally, each period’s completion is fatal—the waterfall method of project management does not really allow a team to return to a previous period. In fact, the only way to go back to a certain period is to start over again down at the very first period.

It may sound very strict, but that is because the entire system’s history demands it to be as such. The waterfall project management method is actually rooted from non-software industries such as manufacturing and construction as opposed to Agile. Due to this, the waterfall method rose out of inevitability.

In the mentioned fields, project periods must occur consecutively. One cannot simply put up a drywall if one has not previously framed a house, right? Similarly, it is almost impossible to revisit a certain period in the project.

In this case, as you can imagine, the waterfall method strictly requires proper and clear planning. Having said that,the project’s requirements must always be clear from the very beginning. Additionally, everyone who is involved in a project must also be well-aware of those requirements. Each member of the team should also be able to understand what their specific role will be in the project, and what exactly that role entails.

When to use the waterfall model?

The waterfall method is only used when the requirements are very well-established, clear, and fixed. Additionally, the product description should also be stable, and the technology is well-understood. In the waterfall method, there should be no ambiguous or vague requirements, and there should always be ample resources along with required expertise.

You team or organisation can also make use of the waterfall method if it is only for a short project. Additionally, in the waterfall model, there will be less customer interaction involved during the product development. It is only when the product is ready that it can be shown and demonstrated to the end users.

Advantages of waterfall model

Disadvantages of waterfall model

FAQs

What are the different types of project management methodologies?

There are plenty of credible and effective project management methodologies, and the one you use should suit the type of project you run. These include:
- Agile
- Scrum
- Kanban
- Lean
- Waterfall
- Six Sigma
- PMI/PMBOK

What is the best project management methodology?

There is no single project management methodology that is 'the best'. Instead, you should focus on the needs of your project, and the methodology that suits that best.

Most of the people who have been exposed to the incorrect application of the Agile methodology of project management failed and most probably have a lot of misconceptions about the entire framework, leading to agile project management myths that are just that - myths. In fact, the benefits of agile far outweigh the negatives for many projects, making it a favourite option for project managers around the world.

Or perhaps, people who are just only being introduced to the wonders of the Agile methodology are sceptical of the outcomes as well as the processes involved in it.

For whatever reason, over the past few years, people have come up with the most baffling myths about the Agile methodology of project management. And we have listed down the most popular myths around in this article to set the record straight, once and for all.

Agile is a direct and effortless solution to any project’s problem

As much as we wish this myth were true, it is not. In agile, one can fail just as enormously as one can when using other alternative if not traditional methodologies.

As a matter of fact, because of the transparency and visibility it requires, it is easier for people to fail using the Agile method. However, this is not an excuse to stop thinking.

There is really nothing fundamentally dreamlike about Agile. It simply states that you should “Bring your development team and customer as close together as you can, give them what they need, and then get out of the way.”

If you look around and realise that you do not really have people who like being empowered, getting things done, and taking initiative, that’s a huge problem.

The Agile method just gives your team the permission to work on their best work and be responsible and accountable for the results.

Agile does not require documentation

Wherever this idea came from, it is not true. Agile is not at all anti-documentation. But perhaps a more accurate way of saying it would be that Agile does not require documentation for the sake of documentation.  

In the world of Agile, documentation is treated just like any other deliverable on the project. And like every other deliverable, the documentation gets sized, estimated, and prioritised just like other user stories.

Perhaps it’s when agile pushes back on documentation and prefers another means of communication is where people get the idea that it is anti-documentation. When in really, the agile method just simply prefers for a team to communicate face-to-face than traditionally relying on written word.

Agile does not require planning

Wherever this myth came from, we are most definitely sure that they have not read a word about the Agile framework and methodology at all, as there is a lot of planning that goes on in any agile project.

For instance, you have your daily planning along with the daily 10-minute standups. Then the bi-weekly planning along with the Sprint meetings, and finally the release planning wherein teams decide what to ship every month or so. With that in mind, it would not be fair at all to say that agile is anti-planning. If anything, it is more of like anti-static planning to be more specific.  

Agile lacks discipline

This is not true at all. If anything, Agile actually instils strict discipline to deliver the best possible results. It requires its team members to test, get feedback, regularly ship software, constantly change and update the plan, and most importantly, deliver unpleasant news or failures as quickly as possible.

The reality is, Agile is not a simple walk through the park, it is not even for the faint of heart, and it requires a lot of hard work and discipline.

Agile requires a lot of rework

This might be close to the truth, but not a lot as it proclaims. Agile actually comes in two forms of rework. The first is when you have to rework the requirements and the second is when you have to rework the software.

The latter is only reworked when the development team discover a much better way to design the software, and the former is when the customer realises what they want exactly.

However, both need balance, similar to the fact that a business cannot always change their mind, development teams cannot keep redesigning forever. At some point in the project timeline, the team have to ship.

The great thing about Agile is that it actually deals with this problem by empowering both sides through iterating so as long that both work within the project’s means.

All creative works with a deadline faces the same problems and challenges, one way or another. It’s just a matter of doing your best work with the given time and resources you have.

Agile is anti-architecture

Agile actually works best in architectural projects and something that the architectural industry got really good at was building huge, complex, expensive, and hard to maintain systems during the 1990’s.

So, Agile has pushed back just a little biton this coining the term YAGNI which means You Ain’t Gonna Need It. This is to simply remind teams to continue making things simple until proven otherwise.

But that does not necessarily mean that Agile teams should stop thinking, or that they do not really have any leverage on their previous experiences. It is actually more like an attitude that the best way to build bigger and more complex systems is to keep things simple, and only add the difficult parts as needed.

You cannot scale with Agile

Scaling is probably one of the most difficult things to do in an organisation. There really is no easy way to coordinate, communicate, and to keep large groups of people to move into the same direction towards a similar cause. But in Agile, instead of finding ways to scale up, it actually looks for ways to scale down.

A scaled down team is so much easier to maintain and manage, plus, structuring it that way can make people work more efficiently and effectively on a project. So,technically, Agile can scale up, but it will be more effective if done the opposite way.

If you're ready to bust these agile myths in your organisation, you need a software built by agile experts for agile teams and their stakeholders. Empower your stakeholders with appropriate information and get down to the nitty gritty with your team in an intuitive digital environment. Start your free trial with Comurce today.

There is an old saying that says “a picture is worth a thousand words” and this could never be truer in this highly fast-paced world that we are living in. Cliché a sit may sound, viewing or reading about topics in picture or graphic mode can help us to absorb information easily, especially in the world of Agile Project Management where information can be very overwhelming.

Reading information through infographics enable us to have a clearer idea of how exactly the flow of work should happen and inform us of what certain information actually looks like visually. In this article, we have listed down our favourite agile project management infographics.

Agile Project Management Methods by AltexSoft

To start off, if you are new or not too familiar with Agile, or perhaps you are looking for a refresher, you may feast your eyes on this highly informative infographic created by Altexsoft.

Uncomplicated and easily understood, we believe that this infographic will give you a high-level overview of the Agile methodology in project management.

Agile Project Management Infographic by Altexsoft
View the full infographic from Altexsoft

Software development explained with cars by Toggl

Toggl is probably best known for their ingenious tracking app which is used to build software.We are guessing that this particular experience of theirs is what make this infographic highly comprehensive.

The only other thing that is more difficult than developing software for a certain client is explaining to that client how that software is built. This infographic by Toggl explains swiftly the extremely complex concept of software development using cars! It cannot be more exciting and informative than that.

Perhaps the biggest persisting issue that most software development companies have is that gap between how their clients see the process of software development and how that particular development works out exactly in practice.

Agile project management infographic from Toggl
View the full infographic from Toggl

The Cycles of Miscommunication by 3Back

This infographic on the cycles of miscommunication created by 3Back is actually a Scrum fan favorite. This infographic speaks huge capacities on the importance of listening to what is being said and the importance of always getting and giving feedback during Sprints or any other types of Agile meetings.

View the full infographic from 3Back.

10 Reasons Why Your Scrum Project is Failing by 3Back

This is another fan favorite infographic created by 3Back as majority of the reasons stated in this infographic serves as a great reality check to any Scrum Team.

Some of the information stated in this infographic capture the significant concerns that Scrum Teams usually forget about, such as achieving the right size of a Scrum Team or if the team is involved and engaged enough in the Sprint planning process.

View the full infographic by 3Back.

Popular Misconceptions of Agile by Allan Kelly

Most people who have been exposed to the Agile method who failed probably have a lot of misconceptions about the entire framework. Or perhaps, people who are only being introduced to the Agile methodology and are skeptical of the processes involved in it.

This infographic created by Allan Kelly slams all the common misconceptions that people have towards the Agile method of project management. Every bit of this infographic is worthy to be printed and even posted on a wall wherever Agile is being used or where it is being introduced.

Alternately, this can be put at the back of your mind to dig up again for those times you need a little more clarification on what Agile does and does not do.

3back infographic misconceptions
View the full infographic at Dzone

The Power of Planning and Estimating in Agile by KnowledgeHut

This very easy on the eye infographic created by KnowledgeHut talks about how important estimating and planning are in the Agile methodology. They stated that each plan will aid in creating a platform to develop a project, and that estimation will help to fill in the gaps and remove the obstacles in the software development process.

The creative people over at KnowledgeHut explains that the Agile methodology only generally provides teams an idea on how a project manager can estimate and plan tasks to ensure project success. They clearly state that planning and estimating are the two main factors that greatly influences that outcome of any sort of project.

In this infographic, they also showed that Agile planning is all about calculating the speed at which a team can turn their user stories into purposeful production-ready software. Planning and estimating are considered to be highly critical for the success of a project on software development.

They also state that planning and estimating may involve numerous challenges because the wrong person did the estimation which eventually leads to a mismatch in the entire process. If this happens, it will be purely just a waste not only of time but also of efforts. This becomes even more grave if a team starts working without any specific task requirement, and furthermore if the tasks are not assigned to the right set of people.

View the full infographic from KnowledgeHut.

In summary, there is an abundance of information spread throughout the internet about Agile project management meaning that sometimes, all of this information can be confusing, if not overwhelming. This makes learning about the Agile framework and methodology extra tricky for a lot of people, so people must look for other ways to absorb all the information they find online.

Luckily, there are podcasts and videos to make learning about Agile less boring than simply reading articles or books, and if you are looking for more digestible content to read through, learning about the Agile methodology using a series of infographics is perfect for you.

What Next?

If you're looking for agile project management software that enables stakeholders of all levels to quickly access the information they need, Comurce is the tool for you.

Whether you're new to agile project management or an experienced practitioner, our list of agile project management videos combines knowledge from industry experts to help further your knowledge. From introductions to the world of agile project management, to running agile project management meetings effectively, these videos are a must watch.

Read on for a list of our favourite agile project management videos.

Agile Project Management with Kanban by Eric Brechner

Well-renowned Xbox development manager at Microsoft, author, and Kanban specialist, Eric Brechner, talks about Kanban and agile for team project management during this Google talk. Brechner discusses a great and exceptionally helpful introduction to the world of agile project management using Kanban boards, along with a step-by-step approach to the said methodology.

Agile and the Seven Deadly Sins of Project Managing

Mike Cohn delivers a highly significant speech at the Better Software Conference that further explains the most common drawbacks people experience in using the conventional way of project management. Cohn also discusses how the processes in agile address those specific hitches. In this video, Mike Cohn focuses on the seven deadly sins of project management, along with a great summary of agile project management as well.

What is Agile Project Management? Definition, Methodology and Scrum by AIMS Lecture

In this lecture presented by AIMS, they specifically explain what Agile is and what it does to project management in general. This lecture focuses on agile’s definition of being both a process and a methodology by which one’s projects can be easily and conveniently accomplished and implemented in small increments of work.

Agile project management tutorial: What is agile project management?

Lynda.com presents a tutorial on Agile project management. It teaches its viewers how using the agile methodology allows a team to produce relatively smaller increments of work more frequently and efficiently, as well as its benefits and disadvantages to some cases. It also talks about how agile makes an excellent choice for teams of all sizes that work on product development, business analysis, programming, and other similar areas.

This tutorial is part of the Agile Project Management course that is presented by Lynda.com’s author, Bob McGannon. In its entirety this tutorial is 1 hour and 46 minutes long, and further discusses the techniques as well as the tools you need to successfully manage a project using the agile methodology of project management.

Agile project management: A comprehensive guide

This particular video on agile project management is specially geared towards unceasing development. This video further discusses how the agile methodology can significantly increase your project’s vision for success. Everything you need to know about how the agile project management works as a whole is in this video.

Agile Project Management: Scrum & Sprint Demystified

ProjectManager.com’s Devin Deen introduces a very straightforward yet highly informative video that demystifies the Agile Methodology and its role in project management, all in just a few minutes. This video discusses the agile methodology for viewers to fully understand the approaches in using this particular methodology in project management, as well as for viewers to learn exactly what Scrum is all about. Deen also talks about the benefits of using agile, and how significant its role will be in project management.

Scrum vs Kanban - Two Agile Teams Go Head-to-Head

People who have knowledge of the Agile methodology often gets confused between what Scrum and Kanban really are as they have so much in common that users always mismatch them. In this video, the similarities and differences between Scrum and Kanban will be thoroughly discussed. This video might come in very handy for those who are still confused between the two.

Facilitating the Top 10 Agile Meetings

https://agilevideos.com/videoscategory/top-10-agile-meetings/

AgileVideos.com offers this highly unique 21-part video series that will take its viewers deeper into the world of Agile. This series focuses on the top 10 types of Agile meetings and how you and your team can effectively facilitate them. Each video will cover the attendees, deliverables, purpose, sample agenda, and the real-world tips for facilitating an agile meeting with a positive and effective outcome.

This 21-part video series on the top 10 agile meetings is facilitated by experienced Agile practitioners to share their tips and knowledge as well as perform live demos. The instructor, Sally Elatta is a world-class facilitator and an enterprise Agile Coach who generously shares her practical and valuable knowledge and tips that you can immediately apply in your own meetings to fully transform them into highly effective Agile meetings.

Effective Facilitation

https://agilevideos.com/videoscategory/becoming-an-effective-facilitator/

In this new video series, Sally Elatta once again shares her knowledge and expertise in handling or facilitating agile meetings. This Effective Facilitation series a is very a powerful 17-part video series that will give its viewers the skills to transform the efficiency of their meetings right away.This video is geared toward Scrum Masters, but all project team members will also benefit greatly from this.

You and your team will learn effective methods in facilitating agile meetings through live demos and a very engaging group discussion on how to exactly respond and react to the top dysfunctional behaviours that usually happen in an agile meeting and how to use very powerful questioning methods to control the stream of your agile meetings.

What next?

If you've watched the videos above and are ready to dive into the world of agile, why not make a start with our agile reading list

Better yet, if you're ready to embark on your agile journey and need a piece of software which is not only designed specifically for you, but also allows stakeholders at all levels the degree of interaction they require, Comurce could be the right solution for you. Find out more and get started today.

 

Whether you're looking to expand your knowledge about agile project management, or start your journey to becoming a practitioner, these agile project management books are a must-read. We say, take a pen and highlighter to them - let them become your reference points, adapt the theories to your needs and test out the tips in your projects. 

Here are our top 6 choices of the best agile project management books.

1. Agile Project Management for Dummies

This introductory book is written by Mark Layton, PMP. He is a certified Scrum Trainer, and the chairperson of the Los Angeles Agile Leadership Network. This introductory book was published in April 2012 and contains a little over 360 pages.

This particular book on agile project management features a highly informative guide about the various approaches,techniques and tool to help developers to develop and implement decent software packages. This book also teaches its readers the best ways to apply the techniques it tackles and how to empower a project team to finish their project quickly.

2. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time2

This is the oldest book in this list, but we have still included it because of its relevance to learning the basic principles of agile project management through the Scrum process. Its author, Jeff Sutherland has written this methodology and formalised it in 1993. He was inspired to solve a very difficult problem: his projects are getting more delayed and more expensive. He knew there had to be a better way of managing it, so he then decided to formalise the Scrum process basing it on the empirical process design.

This book is not exactly a how-to type of book, but more of like a background of agile in project management as well as the philosophy behind it. The concepts discussed in this book are highly flexible and easily adaptable to other industries such as business and even our day to day lives.

Sutherland talks about the ways to increase a team’s productivity through improved communication, continuous improvement and by eliminating waste.

3. Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (2nd Edition)

Written by IT manager, project manager and agile consultant Jim Highsmith in 2009, this book is specifically directed toward project leaders, product managers, and executives.

Although, we believe that team members will also greatly benefit from reading it as this book provides best practices on approaches for agile project management that can easily be applied to any project scale.

This book also teaches its readers the benefits of having mobility and speed while using agile methods, as well as how measuring a project member’s performance can encourage agility.

4. Project Management the Agile Way: Making it Work in the Enterprise

This project management book’s author John Goodpasture, PMP, shares with his readers his extensive experience as a project office director, as well as his broad experience as a program manager for the US DOD, as systems engineering program director, and as vice president of an enormous imaging company.

This book’s target audience is geared toward the more experienced business analyst or project expert who has been comfortable in using the traditional project management method but is seeking to understand what agile is in the business as well as the various benefits it could give a certain business.

5. The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility

Colleagues and veteran project managers, Michele Sliger and Stacia Broderick Viscardi are also PMI-certified PMPs as well as Agile coaches and Certified Scrum Trainers. Their book is considered somewhat special and rare due to the resources they have featured.

In this book, Sliger and Viscardi shows exactly how PMPs can transition effectively to the new Agile outlook and environment using the infamous PMBOK Guide language and processes. This book was published sometime in May of 2008, but it still ranks #19 in Amazon’s Best Sellers Agile category, #74 in PMP Exam category, and #1 in Quality Control – Software Design, Testing and Engineering category.

This book is certainly a must-read for both project managers and project members.

6. Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition

The author of this last book, Lyssa Adkinshad a little over 15 years of experience as a project and program manager before she began teaching and coaching agile and Scrum framework and methods.

Since the agile methodology is very different from traditional project management methods, this book tackles the difference in role and responsibilities of a project manager in the traditional method to the agile methodology. This book is especially helpful to professionals who are looking to transition to the agile method. In this book, they would learn how to adopt a brand-new mindset to be able to guide their project team better than before.

In conclusion…

This book list might be quite short for some, but it was kept so to help the readers of this blog to have a good foundation about the agile framework and methodologies. It is of utmosti mportance to always remember that despite the hype, agile projects will not necessarily run smoothly and successfully by themselves without a streamlined process and good project management.

What next?

If you're looking for content in a quicker, more digestible format, why not watch some of our favourite agile project management videos?

If you're looking to accelerate your agile strategy, you need a tool which provides the necessary visibility to both your stakeholders and your team, which is designed for an agile way of working. With Comurce, you get all this and more, with superior tracking, and system to help you identify bottlenecks and skills gaps, and much more. Start your free trial today, no credit card required.

 

The Agile method for project management provides developer with countless benefits or advantages compared to the most popular alternative, the waterfall technique. Despite producing better outputs compared to other methods of project management, some organisations are still very reluctant to make use of the agile method for a variety of reasons.

In this article, we will explore the key benefits of Agile and why Agile is the one of the best methods to use for project management.

1. Quickly identify wrong methods

Since the agile framework initially requires your team to define or to document the methods to be used in the very beginning, it will be much easier to spot the specific elements that can be slowing up your process. Agile initially focuses on the concept of “failing quickly” to show the business daily progress and in turn the project team can easily take out these elements to fine tune the project.

2. Decisions can be made swiftly

A team located in the same workplace can make an empowered decision almost instantly.  But whether you’re using physical or virtual agile software for your project such as a Kanban board, when the need arises, it will be easy to gather your scrum team for a sprint session and decide on what to add and what to remove in your highly transparent board.

3. Teamwork results in many advantages

Since the work flow and tasks are transparent to everyone on the team, it makes the entire team accountable for the project’s entirety. In this way, your project team will surely have the same desire for the entire project to succeed. Because of this, all project team members are informed of any technical challenges that may result from the progress that the project is making.

This approach further enhances the understanding and knowledge of each project team member. This will greatly increase the chances of identifying the best solution that will eventually lead to fulfilling the ultimate goal of agile teams: customer satisfaction.

4. Change is accepted as unavoidable and is embraced

At the onset of the project, it is clearly understood by the agile team that no one can exactly tell how the system works. But adopting agile in project management rids the team of the “analysis paralysis” almost instantly.

Using the agile methodology, for example, in a beta test software, will allow the agile team to develop repetition and constant corrections can be made along the way. 

5. More substantial and effective final product

Since the agile team is focused on further developing the product, it will be highly effective in identifying the features that add business value to it.

Additionally, defining all of the requirements needed at the beginning of the project can enormously result in to the functionality that is being developed has only partial or of no use at all during the production.

6. Higher quality production method

Using the agile methodology guarantees to significantly lower the number of flaws during the production stage. Thanks to your cross-functional team, an increase in the exchange of information through a very transparent conversation on how to further improve the product, through constant change will eventually polish your final product. All of this is possible through a series of sprint meetings spread throughout the duration of the project.

7. Heightened satisfaction with the final result

The initial agile principle is that your team’s utmost priority is customer satisfaction through timely and unceasing delivery of highly valuable product.  Using the Scrum agile methodology in mapping out your team’s initial plan and work flow will immensely contribute to the business value of the products you produce; hence your team will be able to achieve its ultimate goal of satisfying the customer.

8. Accurate and time-efficient documentation

Since the project documentation is partial to the artifacts needed to accomplish a task, such as user stories, test cases, etc., it characterises what has already been developed and establish against what might have been initially agreed to or planned.

Audit transparency and history is far better due to the fact that sign-offs are highly precise to unnoticeable features, as opposed to a single endorsement of dozen and hundreds of pages of project documentation. 

The traditional way of development methods would require the agile team to spend a huge amount of time on documentation alone that they might not able to maintain or use at all.  

At this point, you might be wondering that if the Agile project management method is this amazing, why don’t more companies and organisations use it?  Well there are several reasons, but mainly because of the fact that many companies are not risk takers and adopting the agile methodology or using agile software for their already established team and methods can be a great change.

Additionally, there are times that the agile methodology does not work for certain teams and is left abandoned eventually. This is due to the fact that companies and organisations felt that the first failure they have experienced in using the agile methodology scared them off. What they do not fully understand is that there may be a wide range of reasons as to why it did not work for them in the first place, for example, perhaps the team has applied agile’s initial principle and is then told specifically what to do or how to go about agile. Having a demanding procedure for agile development is illogical.

The best way to make the agile methodology work for a team is to simply find a project team that is willing to adopt the agile methodology with the freedom to also adopt the various techniques that comes with agile that will work best for a specific project. Eventually, you will be seeing amazing results, and hopefully the project team will adopt the method and become advocates for it. In the long run, working with the same project team will be better and more seamless, resulting to higher quality products, and better customer satisfaction.

How can we start using agile at my company?

With Comurce, you get a range of tools suitable for all members of the team – from contributors to senior stakeholders and board level directors. An end-to-end platform enables businesses to scale their transformation faster by empowering them to operationalize, embed and deliver change with agility.

FAQs

Why is Agile important?

Used correctly, agile is a key methodology for software developers and other types of project teams. It is effective, prevents scope creep and enables change to happen quickly.

Why is Agile winning?

With over 70% of software development teams using Agile, it is easily the most popular methodology for those types of teams. Mass adoption, coupled with it's inherent effectiveness, make it hard to beat.

What are the four core priniciples of Agile?

The four core principles of Agile are:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to a change over following a plan

What are the 12 principles of Agile?

- Satisfy The Customer
- Welcome Change
- Deliver Frequently
- Work Together
- Build Projects
- Face-to-Face Time
- Measure Progress
- Sustainable Development
- Continous Attention
- Keep It Simple
- Organised Teams
- Reflect for Effectiveness

Before we break down what makes a Scrum team, let’s define what Scrum actually is.

Scrum is an agile project management framework that can be used for different types of projects, but mainly for software development projects with the ultimate goal of producing new software feature every one to four weeks.

Who uses the Scrum method?

Scrum is broadly used by teams working on software development. In fact, around 70% of software development teams use it according to the 12th Annual State of Agile Report.

However, Scrum is not just limited to the software development industry. Over the years, it has spread through other industries such as marketing. 

What are the Benefits of using the Scrum method?

Teams who have adapted the Scrum method into their regular work flow have experienced better quality of outputs, higher productivity rates, improved satisfaction with stakeholders, better work dynamics, and most importantly, happier employees.

Who is involved in an Agile Scrum Development?

The Scrum method is mainly focused on team roles, ceremonies (also known as events), rules and artifacts.

The Scrum Team

A Scrum team is usually comprised of around seven to nine members, and this team have no specific team leader that would assign tasks to each member or help solve any issues that the team may encounter along the way.

This way, the Scrum team works as one unit to address any issues and solve problems that may arise. Each member of the team is a significant part of a solution and project completion.

Despite not having a specific leader, there are three significant roles in a Scrum team.

The Product Owner

Also known as the project’s stakeholder, the product owner is usually a customer, external or internal. The product owner is the one who communicates the product’s general vision and mission to the team. The product owner is the one who is eventually responsible for managing the product backlog, and the one who accepts the finished increments of work.

The Scrum Master

Despite the mighty name, the role of the Scrum Master is to be a servant leader to the product owner and the development team, as well as the entire organisation. The Scrum Master does not really have any hierarchal power over the entire team but is more of like a facilitator who ensures that the team is sticking to the Scrum method throughout the project. The Scrum Master also helps the team to achieve optimum performance which may include facilitating meetings, removing obstructions, and helping the product owner with the product backlog.

The Development Team

The Development Team are self-organising and are cross-functional, they are well equipped with all the skills needed to make shippable increments at the end of each sprint. Members of this team may have special skills or fortes, but the accountability goes to the team as a whole.

Scrum Ceremonies (Scrum Events)

The Sprint

A sprint is simply a timed period during which specific task is accomplished and is prepared for review. Sprints usually take around two to four weeks long but can also be as short as a week. 

Sprint Planning Meeting

Sprint planning team meetings are also time-bound meetings that will define which product backlog will be done and how the task should be accomplished and achieved.

The Daily Scrum

The Daily Scrum is a short meeting that lasts no more than fifteen minutes each day. In this way, it is easier for team members to cover their progress since the last daily scrum quickly and transparently. The daily scrum also covers the plans for the succeeding meeting, and any weak points that may be hindering the team’s progress.

The Sprint Review Meeting

During the Sprint Review meeting, the product owner checks the work done against the pre-defined task, and he will either reject or accept the presented work. This is basically a demonstration meeting for the entire team to showcase the work they have recently completed. The clients would then provide the team feedback to make sure that the delivered products are up to the standards of the business’s need.

The Sprint Retrospective Meeting

The Sprint Retrospective Meeting, also known as the Retro, is the last team meeting in the Sprint. The Retro meeting is done to list down exactly what went well in the project, and what did not go as planned. This is also a meeting held to know exactly what the team can further improve on for the next Sprint.

The Sprint Retrospective Meeting is attended by the Scrum Master and is a highly important chance for the entire team to pay close attention to the overall performance, and also to identify other strategies for further improvement in terms of process.

Getting Started with Scrum

Getting started with Scrum is not at all as complicated as it seems. It is fairly common for individual Scrum teams to use simple tools such as a physical whiteboard with sticky notes, called a Kanban board. One may even start with using a spreadsheet to accomplish any product backlog in each sprint.

Additionally, your team might want to look into a virtual or an online Kanban board, like the tools which Comurce provides.  An online or virtual Scrum board is good for teams of all sizes. It is easily accessible to everyone involved in the project, whether they are in the same workplace or working remotely. Also, a web-based card can contain more detailed information than your regular and trusty sticky notes, as well as carry attachments which can help to further organise the information you put in the Scrum board.

Using an online or a virtual Scrum board allows you to not only track the project’s progress but also analyse your team’s performance with an online board’s time tracking and real-time reporting features. This can make your Sprint Retrospective Meetings more meaningful with the amount of data that you can track and provide.

With Comurce, you get a range of tools suitable for all members of the team – from contributors to senior stakeholders and board level directors. An end-to-end platform enables businesses to scale their transformation faster by empowering them to operationalize, embed and deliver change with agility.

FAQs

What is a Scrum Team?

A scrum team is a small project team that works on a particular 'product'. Together, they follow agile principles in order to deliver projects effectively.

Who uses the Scrum method?

Many software development teams use scrum - around 70% according to studies. However, it is also used for a variety of other projects, such as in marketing or operations.

What are the benefits of using the Scrum method?

Generally, using the scrum method can result in better quality outputs, higher productivity and improved satisfaction with stakeholders.

What is a product owner?

A product owner is a person responsible for communicating the product's vision and mission to the team. They are ultimately responsible for managing the backlog, and acceptance of the finished increments of work.

What is the development team?

The development team carry out the design and build of the project itself. It is usually made of a group of specialists and generalists, who all contribute to various aspects of the project. Ultimately, the team as a whole are responsible for the delivery of the project.

What is a Scrum Master?

The Scrum Master is a facilitator for the development team and product owner, ensuring the requirements are communicated and the scrum methodology is followed throughout.

What is a sprint in agile?

A sprint is a timed period during which specific task is accomplished and is prepared for review. Sprints usually take around two to four weeks long but can also be as short as a week. 

What is a sprint planning meeting?

Sprint planning team meetings are time-bound meetings that will define which product backlog will be done and how the task should be accomplished and achieved.

What is the daily scrum?

The Daily Scrum is a short meeting that lasts no more than fifteen minutes each day. It also covers the plans for the succeeding meeting and any hindrances.

What is a sprint review meeting?

During the Sprint Review meeting, the product owner checks the work done against the pre-defined task, and they will either reject or accept the presented work.

What is a sprint retrospective?

The Sprint Retrospective Meeting is the last team meeting in the Sprint. The Retro meeting is done to list down exactly what went well in the project, and what did not go as planned.

Simply defined, a Kanban board is an agile project management tool that enables you and/or your team to enhance the flow of your work.  There are two types of Kanban board - a Physical Kanban board and an Online Kanban board. The former is when someone uses sticky notes on a whiteboard to track a project’s status, issues, and most importantly, progress. On the other hand, an Online Kanban board is a virtual version of the whiteboard method, using specialised project management software.

Where did Kanban Boards originate?

Historically speaking, what we know now as the Kanban method actually originated in Japan sometime in the late 1940’s. It was initially used by Toyota to track their manufacturing and engineering progress. Initially, line-workers in Toyota used colored Kanbans or actual colored cards to inform each other of what is needed for a specific task.

Kanban is actually the Japanese term for “card” or “visual sign”, and this specific approach to workflow allowed the teams within the company to communicate easier than they used to, hence they were able to maximise their workflow, refine their processes, and standardise their cues.

Although the application of the Kanban method has greatly influenced Toyota’s system of production, it has also been adapted to human resource management as well as software development throughout the years. This is due to the fact that the Kanban method’s core principles can be easily adapted into other industries.

What are the Kanban core principles?

The Kanban method enables you to first visualise your work, and then limit the said work in terms of process, which will enable you to focus on flow, and then eventually, you can practice constant improvement.

Why do I need to visualise my work?

In the manufacturing industry, the process of accomplishing tasks is seen in the arrangement of the production line. In knowledge work, however, the process is often not as transparent.

Using the Kanban method to map out processes on a Kanban board and using Kanban cards to characterise work delivers transparency in the process. Additionally, using this method shows the project’s workflow.

Visualising one’s work and workflow has a lot of benefits, including how our brain soaks up and process certain information. Scientifically speaking, the human brain stores graphic information to up to 60,000 times faster than when we look at text, and since the Kanban method requires you to create a visual of your work, the visual presentation of your work will be easier to understand and remember so there is continuous productivity.

Additionally, graphics or visual details are presented in a single place, which minimises the time that is spent tracking down information such as progress reports, updates, and even meetings. The Kanban board and the Kanban cards signify a mutual visual language that a scrum team and stakeholders can use to easily communicate and pass on project information transparently.

What are the goals of using the Kanban method? 

The goal of the Kanban system is to simply limit the work quantity in terms of process so that the workflow matches the system’s capacity. Simply put, a system can only handle a certain amount of traffic to make everything flow smoothly throughout the rest of the steps in the process.

Visualising your work first using the Kanban board and the Kanban system elevates both virtual and physical whiteboards from a simple to-do list to a well-optimized workflow system. This will enable you to limit your work in terms of process, give you a transparent vision of your workflows, and most importantly, gather needed data for further improvement.

The downside is that once the system becomes overloaded, the entire workflow tends to slow down, turning the smooth-sailing work process to an impasse. The good thing is that it is easy to spot jammed workflow on a Kanban board due to the piling work cards within the affected lanes, which will give you an instant idea into which lane needs to be resolved.

Kanban boards can help prevent jammed work flowthrough utilising one or more WIP (work-in-process) limits. Simply put, a WIP limit is a constraint that can be used and applied to certain parts of the workflow, or to the rest of the whole process. Using WIP limits can highly improve the workflow through the steps in the process that you have initially outlined on your Kanban board, eventually helping your team to become even more productive and more efficient.

When your Kanban system is finally set and in place, it eventually becomes the foundation of a constantly improved work flow. With a well-oiled Kanban system, teams can track and measure their effectiveness and efficiency through the tracking of their flow, lead times, quality, and more.

Physical or Virtual Kanban Board?

There are certain teams that opt to go old school when using the Kanban system, preferring physical Kanban boards over a virtual Kanban board. A physical Kanban board uses good old sticky notes or even index cards for the Kanban cards, and the board is drawn on an actual whiteboard or wall. This option works really well for teams that are in the same workspace since every member of the team can physically interact with the board and do not need to rely on their other colleagues to move their own cards using a proxy.

Generally, physical Kanban boards are a very inexpensive way to begin observing the Kanban system in the workplace.

On the other hand, a virtual Kanban system gives your team a lot of additional features for collaboration such as email integration. Using a virtual Kanban board can also give you a detailed trail that tracks the history of each card, and a far more sophisticated data reports and metrics in an instant.

Virtual Kanban boards also give you the opportunity to integrate with other software needed for your operation, such as project portfolio, or HelpDesk platforms that will help remove duplicated entries. And when the time comes that your team needs to expand, there will be no need to switch to other tools which can delay the team’s productivity, cost, time, and resources.

But whether you prefer to use a physical or a virtual board, Kanban boards will make your processes transparent to the rest of your team. It will also give you a quick glance of the progress of your work, to help you further enhance your workflow through continuous improvement of your processes.

Comurce Kanban Boards

If you're looking for an agile project management solution with a smart Kanban board that goes the extra mile. Senior stakeholders can view a dynamic roadmap across the organisation from portfolio to projects, from board to teams. The team behind the actions get an intuitive Kanban board which helps them to identify bottlenecks, manage processes and work towards continuous improvement. Find out more about Comurce today!

FAQs

What is a Kanban board?

Simply defined, a Kanban board is an agile project management tool that enables you and/or your team to enhance the flow of your work.

Where did Kanban Boards originate?

Historically speaking, what we know now as the Kanban method actually originated in Japan sometime in the late 1940’s. It was initially used by Toyota to track their manufacturing and engineering progress.

What are the Kanban core principles?

The Kanban method enables you to first visualise your work, and then limit the said work in terms of process, which will enable you to focus on flow, and then eventually, you can practice constant improvement.

Why do I need to visualise my work?

Visualising one’s work and workflow has a lot of benefits, including how our brain soaks up and process certain information. Scientifically speaking, the human brain stores graphic information to up to 60,000 times faster than when we look at text, and since the Kanban method requires you to create a visual of your work, the visual presentation of your work will be easier to understand and remember so there is continuous productivity.

What are the goals of using the Kanban method? 

The goal of the Kanban system is to simply limit the work quantity in terms of process so that the workflow matches the system’s capacity.

Physical or Virtual Kanban Board?

Whilst some organisations still prefer to use physical Kanban boards, the transition to a digital Kanban board is happening quickly, enabling team members to collaborate remotely.

What goes on a Kanban board?

Typically, a Kanban board for software development includes columns for the following: Backlog, Ready, Coding, Testing, Approval and Done. However, these can change (or be renamed) according to the stages of your agile project.

Comurce Ltd, 1st Floor Packwood House, Guild Street, Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, England, CV37 6RP
Phone: +44 (0)20 3890 5583