Use Smart Tools To Expedite Agile Workflow
Agile methodology is a dated concept, but incorporating it in any ongoing workflow is the tough part. Here's how to do it as a results-oriented manager.
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Operational agility is absolutely essential — now more than ever before.
COVID-19 sent a shockwave throughout the business world, shattering established frameworks and testing the mettle of companies everywhere.
Some responded quickly and appropriately, and most of those remain active today. Others just couldn’t change their ways fast enough and had to shut down.
But what do I mean by agility here? Well, there are two meanings worthy of our attention. There’s general agility, which concerns every facet of how you approach business.
The methods you use, the research you carry out, how you seek to improve: being light on your toes (to so speak) will massively improve your chance of enduring any given calamity.
And then there’s agile methodology in the area of project management, which serves a distinct purpose that serves the pursuit of broader agility. Agile workflow is all about breaking long projects down into bursts of activity (known as sprints) with set outputs.
Each segment leads neatly into the next, its results informing tweaks to how things are done.
Relative to the old-fashioned waterfall approach to project management which assembled full project briefs and clung to them from beginning to end, this allows incredible flexibility.
Agile methodology is only as good as your implementation of it, though — so how do you use it effectively? You need to have the basics down, and you need to have the right tools.
In this post, we’re going to cover some useful tips for using digital tools to expedite your Agile workflow. This should help you make progress with your business. Let’s get started.
1. Centralize Your 'Soon-to-be Agile' Task Management Process
As the name suggests, an Agile sprint is short but intense. Once a goal is identified, the week-long workload can be arduous, and hitting the deadline is important (even considering the general flexibility of the methodology).
Since there can be hundreds of small tasks to follow, it’s vital to ensure that none of them get overlooked — a minor problem can easily snowball.
If you’re just getting started with handling Agile projects, you should take the time to brush up on the concepts before you proceed (this task management guide is a great place to start), but then it will come down to the software you use.
You need a tool that can keep all the tasks together, track their progress from start to finish, and ensure that the right people are notified of deadlines at the right times, so they’re fully aware of their responsibilities.
G2 has a great list of options, so take the time to read through their relative strengths and weaknesses and decide what would work best in your operation.
Remember the importance of this step: the tool you use to store and track your tasks will make all the difference.
2. Draw Upon Online Agile Training Systems for Effective Team Management
Something that often causes a slowdown in Agile teams is a lack of skills and knowledge. One person may be assigned a task they don’t fully understand yet go along with it due to the pressure to work quickly and the implicit awareness that their job is on the line.
Others may know how to handle their task but have a weak comprehension of the Agile system.
Thankfully, the world of online training is stronger than ever, and it’s easy to find suitable courses to walk people through everything they need to know.
If you need something more targeted, you can take advantage of learning management systems and deploy your own training materials — something that will help if you have a large team to manage.
Just as Agile tactics need to be used properly, digital tools are only as effective as their users are capable of using them effectively.
There’s no sense in simply handing out tools only to see people use them incorrectly. Investment in training will more than return its value.
3. Mandate the Use of Reliable Time-trackers
Particularly now that remote working is so common, it’s necessary to closely track how time is being spent. When you reach the point of reviewing the results of a given sprint, you’ll need to know how long each task took to complete so you can reach suitable conclusions.
This is where time-tracking tools come in, which is why they’ve become so popular.
It doesn’t necessarily matter which tool you decide to use or what layout is used. You might prefer something that logs tasks based on when they’re completed (such as Toggl Track) or focus exclusively on how long they take using a tool like HourStack.
The only thing that really matters is reliability. What’s the uptime percentage? Do labels save properly?
If you can’t be absolutely sure that the results are accurate and representative, then there isn’t much point tracking time in the first place.
Read reviews, run trials, follow industry developments, and stay ready to switch to a new tool if your current one develops issues.
4. Implement a Robust HR Solution
Lastly, you mustn’t overlook the human element in all of this.
People aren’t productivity robots, and there are plenty of reasons to be stressed and frustrated these days. The result is that personal issues (ranging from coworker conflicts to outright depression) can markedly impede the progress of your team.
Now, you obviously can’t magically fix those issues, nor is it your responsibility to prevent them from interfering with work — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do everything you can to help your employees.
In the end, your support will benefit everyone, and it should primarily be extended through an HR portal (like BambooHR), which allows people to raise their concerns.
This also provides a more delicate way to mention blockers. If employee 'A' can’t get their work done because employee 'B' is dragging their feet, they might be reluctant to mention it for fear of causing conflict.
If they can bring it up through an HR system, that will be much easier.
If you follow the tips we’ve looked at here, you should be able to markedly improve your ability to implement Agile methodology. Good luck!
Published at DZone with permission of Steve Parker. See the original article here.
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