To Agile or not too Agile, is that the question?!

Agile certainly has its benefits, but it’s not always the answer. Taking a Hybrid approach may be worth considering as it can lend itself better to a given environment.

Initially it is worth considering the key reason’s organisations are adopting agile such as Faster time to market; Developing products; Risk reduction; Increased Quality & Efficiency; Improved Customer Satisfaction. Ultimately, the outcome is the key driver and the approach is simply what best enables the realisation of these outcomes.

An enterprise wide adoption to agile can be painful, time consuming and costly, so a Hybrid Approach which takes the best elements of Agile with minimal disruption might be a more prudent approach. A daily stand-up meeting is one such element of Agile that most environments could easily & seamlessly adopt to enhance a project teams’ focus during specific periods of a more traditional project delivery. Using an agile approach for one aspect of a project while using a more traditional (waterfall) structure for the overall project can certainly provide the best of both worlds in the right environment…for example, applying a traditional waterfall approach to your planning stage (where more structure and definition is required) and then using agile during the development phase generate more frequent outputs and/or increased customer collaboration and satisfaction.

Using agile, or elements of agile, doesn’t make sense for every project; culture and environment play a big part in determining the right approach to take. Environments with long standing rigid processes and policies are less likely to embrace agile, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible if considering a Hybrid Approach. The key is to be clear about what agile is and also what it is not, in that environment. One all too common misperception is that you don’t need a plan or to document requirements with an agile approach, therefore saving time and avoiding difficult conversations with users and stakeholders. Not True!

 Consider the merits of a hybrid approach

A hybrid approach can often be an effective way of working through challenging situations where your user (aka Product Owner) is not certain of the finer detail of the end product they need, but they know they need something to meet a certain objective at a certain time. As such, you can always utilise an agile approach with a wider traditional product construct which allows for iteration and exploration to get to the product required while still holding firm to a specific delivery date. Combining elements of certainty while allowing for cycles of iteration is a good balance of tradition and modern, as it provides increased levels of collaboration while meeting an agreed date for delivery.

Key points to keep in mind…

  • Agile is a set of elements, not a complete solution in of itself
  • Adopting agile doesn’t have to mean wholesale adoption and training your entire organisation in support
  • Using agile doesn’t mean you can’t use other methods or a blended approach
  • Is the adoption of agile right for your project or organisation…weight up the pro’s & con’s
  • Don’t treat agile as something mystical…its mostly just common sense but takes know how to adequately adopt

Resist choosing your approach and trying to force that approach into an environment that’s not suited…rather look at all approaches and tailor to your needs and environment such that the probability of success is that much greater.

For all your Agile needs, please contact Aspira.

Author: Thomas McGrath, Advisory & Resourcing, Aspira.

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