The Top 10 Reasons Why Your Company Should Be Agile, #4-7

In my last entry on My Top 10 Reasons Why Your Company Should Be Using Agile, I covered reasons one, two and three from my personal top 10 – namely that you should be using Agile because it reduces cost, avoids risk and allows flexibility and innovation.

In this post, I’m going to cover another four reasons for using Agile – briefly discussing how Agile can reduce waste, give an improved return on investment, increase productivity and boost team morale. If you don’t seriously consider switching to Agile at the end of this series, I’ll be very surprised.

So, let’s look again at Why You Should Be Using Agile…

Reason # 4: Agile Reduces Waste

A lot of what I said in part one of My 10 Reasons Your Company Should Be Using Agile applies to Agile’s ability to prevent waste as well. Frequent feedback, regular Scrum events and short Sprints means that unnecessary features can be identified and eliminated early, reducing waste. There’s nothing worse than working on a project only to find half of it isn’t needed and either no one thought to tell you or no one recognised it early enough.

Likewise, while there is still documentation in Agile (don’t fall for the common myth that Agile doesn’t document anything), it does place the emphasis on producing working software as opposed to writing tomes of dead documents that are probably never going to be looked at or updated again. That’s a massive waste reduction right there.

“Working software over comprehensive documentation”

– The Agile Manifesto

Reason # 5: Agile Gives a Better ROI

“Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”

– The Agile Manifesto

The business will love this reason for switching to Agile.  Another benefit of Agile’s short iterations and regular working product delivery is that the business can begin to see a return on its investment much earlier than it typically would with a waterfall delivery.

If the company has to wait before an entire project is completed to gain any benefit from it, as they would pre-Agile, there’s a much higher chance of being disappointed, either because items are trimmed off the final delivery to meet the date or because quality is sacrificed in some way. It’s also a long time to wait before you can see any return.

As long as the business actively participates in the Agile process – prioritising requirements or features, giving feedback when needed – the business should be able to begin benefitting from a healthy ROI much earlier as the Agile teams deliver early and often.

Reason # 6: Agile Increases Productivity

“Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a
preference to the shorter timescale.”

– The Agile Manifesto

Another benefit of the collaboration that is typical of Agile is that it encourages everyone to focus on high valued and high priority features and the most efficient way to produce them. Short sprints and self-organising Development teams gives everyone a joint responsibility to meet their commitments.

The team’s autonomy, where members are expected to make informed decisions about their day-to-day work together rather than operating under a strict hierarchy, helps to expedite decisions and boost productivity.

It also leads to our next reason to use Agile…

Reason # 7: Agile Improves Staff Morale

“Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”

– The Agile Manifesto

The autonomous nature of working in an Agile way has a tremendous impact on team morale and motivation. I know because I’ve seen it in others and also enjoyed the boost personally.

There’s something incredibly freeing about you and your team being trusted to make decisions, to plan and organise how you will do your work according to your own guidelines. Once you begin working under an Agile process, you’ll start to wonder just why you didn’t do it before – it makes such sense.

You and your team are the best people to plan your work; you know better than anyone what must go into it and how it conflicts/supports other work that you have to do and/or the bigger picture. Of course you should have a say into how that work can best be done.

This self-directed form of working plus the accountability that every single member of the team enjoys – Agile certainly shows up anyone who isn’t pulling their weight – leads to a much more motivational way of working, one where every single team member knows exactly what they have contributed to the whole.

This in turn helps to avoid the common motivational problems typical of many other management processes, such as poor estimates, lack of accountability, an us versus them mentality and ultimately, lack of incentive and lack of success.

Agile also expects its practitioners to continue learning, providing time and opportunity for the development team to boost their professional learning, thus keeping them engaged.

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