The Agile Tribe

Agile – What's the buzz?

on September 13, 2010

Author: Daniel Luschwitz

Agile development is definitely the latest trend in software engineering. Over the past 18 months I have had numerous conversations about sprints, stories, sliders, burn charts, wall ware and all the other cool techniques that fit under the ‘Agile’ banner.

When you start to understand these techniques they all make sense so no wonder the IT community is starting to see the benefits that Agile development can bring to an organisation.

The main difficulty though can be ‘selling’ the idea to the wider organisation, but luckily, the solution isn’t hard to find – in fact it is printed as point number one in the Agile Manifesto:

“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.

Interesting point right? Believe in your people and empower them to have conversations – revolutionary! So here is my battle plan to make this happen:

  • Become informed.

Knowledge is power, so know how to answer the mirage-hurdles such as: “it doesn’t work with distributed teams” and “regulations mean that we need documentation”. Dispel these myths! Talk to colleagues who are doing it and gather some case studies. Even those pesky sales people that aren’t!

  • Create a buzz within your organisation.

In most cases I see, Agile development is being driven by the IT community so the first port of call is to inform ‘the business’ of what it is all about. If you sell it correctly then they will be driving the change! Think about what you would need to do if you were trying to convert to Waterfall from Agile.

Your ‘sales pitch’ would be something like:

“We are going to organise a team to ask a whole heap of questions about what you want. Once we think we are ready we are going to get started on putting everything together and in 6 months the product will be ready for you. If you want changes/additions along the way, we can do it, but you will need to either give us more time or throw more money at us to hit the release date.”

How much easier is it to say?

“We want you to be a part of the team that is developing this product. Every two weeks we will show you what we have done. You can then give us feedback about you would like and what you would like us to chance. We want to work on the items that are most important to you first up. If you want additional features along the way, no problem, we’ll show you what is left to achieve and you can make a decision on what is more important.”

Support your people with training and consulting and the results will come. Agile to me is a cultural shift in an organisation and first and foremost it is important to get everyone on the same page and manage this transition carefully.

The Agile Academy courses, Taste of Agile and Agile for the Business (choose your flavour) are fantastic ways to create the right buzz about Agile. These courses deliver the message in an informative and fun manner. Where else can you see your IT Executive playing with Lego and blowing up balloons?

As Kylie once sang “Everybody is doin’ a brand new dance now, I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now…”

Daniel Luschwitz is a Senior Account Manager at Software Education, a training partner with the Agile Academy. You can contact Daniel directly at danl@softed.com, 0410 455 040 or follow him on Twitter @Daniel_SoftEd.

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