The latest buzzword for technology collaboration is agile development. It’s supposed to be the cutting-edge way for teams to create a great end product without changing their current team members or resources. Like any major change, this comes with its own set of challenges. It’s not easy to transition from one method of collaborative development to another. Breaking old habits is more difficult than a lot of companies realize. However, you can teach an old dog new tricks. It just takes a little determination, the right resources, and a team that’s willing to back you up.
If you’re facing major challenges with transitioning to agile development, you’re not alone. Here are some of the most common problems those switching to agile development face, and some solutions for overcoming them.
Communication with the Stakeholders
Communication will always be the biggest challenge in collaborative development, but the structure of agile development can actually be more of a help than a hindrance in this area. The structure of agile programming mandates that you have deliverables consistently and early on; this is how you’ll solve the problem. Simply include your stakeholders in the development of a project from the very beginning, handing them deliverables early and getting their feedback throughout. Waiting until the last minute to communicate with a stakeholder will only send progression backwards.
Marrying Procedures with Productivity
There seem to be even more processes and procedures in agile collaborations than in other forms. It’s kind of a loose but tight relationship that allows for flexibility, but also requires structure. Though organization is good for keeping teams on the same page, many teams struggle to stay productive if the configuration isn’t conducive to their work.
The solution is to cooperate as a team to discuss the architecture of the processes. Discuss which procedures are getting in the way of productivity and which are helping. Begin this conversation as early into the project as possible. You and your team can use the flexibility of agile programming to develop brand new procedures that meet the needs of the entire team.
Working Around Geographic Locations
More and more companies are turning towards entirely online collaboration. With so much of the work online, it can make an office space seem obsolete. However, collaboration without a physical meeting place can become tough for agile programmers. The need for frequent meetings isn’t conducive to an online atmosphere.
To solve this, rent office space to hold meetings. It’s okay if the majority of your work occurs through online collaboration, but a rented space for monthly or even quarterly meetings can significantly streamline the issue of staying on the same page when you can’t meet face to face.
Defining Leadership Roles
Because everyone has a voice in agile development, leadership can often fall through the cracks. This poses a significant problem for productivity, since a leader helps to ensure progress is made, meetings stay on topic, and communication reaches the stakeholders.
Don’t let such a simple thing get in the way of your productivity. Begin every project by defining roles within a team. Point out the project manager first and explain how leadership works in agile processing. Then, go around the room and discuss the roles of each individual. This helps everyone to feel like they have a specific job and that they are part of the team, but they also know who has the final say.
Bringing Quality and Speed
One of the flaws of agile programming is the large focus on continuous delivery of a product. This is great for keeping the stakeholders involved and ensuring they get the results they want. However, a focus on continuous delivery can also significantly slow efficiencies and increase the backlog of projects.
Backlogs are probably nothing new, but it can certainly take a toll on your team if you aren’t careful. To reduce your backed up workload, set measurable goals, and include your stakeholders in your planning meetings. Stress the importance of meeting a certain deadline and working productively throughout the project to get there. This won’t eliminate your backed up work, but it will certainly help to reduce it, since your stakeholder is as interested in your success as you are.
Agile programming doesn’t need to be nearly as challenging as some teams make it. It has proven to be a very useful collaboration technique, and if you’re willing to put in the effort to fix the problems, you and your team can reap the benefits.