Agile

Choose The Right Agile Method

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The next big question after deciding to go Agile is deciding which of the methods is right for you- will you go with Scrum, SoS or SAFe? While this decision is not an easy one and will take careful considerations, there are some aspects to each of the method that can help you along the way. Below you will find our easy 3 step process that will guarantee you consider the right options from the start.

 

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For more helpful Agile cheats and tips see The Ultimate Agile Guide.

 

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Transitioning to Agile: Running Effective Meetings

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Ah, meetings.. The thing we all hate, yet cannot live without. No matter what project management method your team is using, meetings are always a part of it one way or another. And while most of us associate these gatherings with long and strenuous activities that often yield little to no actual results, when transitioning to Agile you should keep an open mind.

The whole idea of Agile is being effective and eliminating practices that create waste. So when talking about meetings there is no surprise, the same rules apply. No matter the chosen method, all meetings have to have a clear purpose, duration and must yield a result. So to get the Agile meetings right from the start, you should understand that contrary to other practices every single meeting has a very specific value to add to the table.

  • Understand the reason of the meeting

Depending on your chosen Agile method, the number, complexity and scheduling of these meetings will differ. Scrum meetings are planned based on the length of iterations, while Kanban meetings are held once the team feels the need for them. However, no matter which method you have chosen, the first thing you will have to do is to understand the purpose behind each of the accompanying meetings.

More often than not, the meetings will be very distinctive and specific – sprint planning is only held for planning tasks of that one sprint. Daily standup only discusses the results and plans and so on. While at first, it may seem hard to keep track of all the different rituals, it is understanding the reason behind them that will help pull you out of the dark. Ultimately this will not only help you, but will also make your teams transition a lot smoother.

  • Go by the rules

Another thing that might be difficult to do at first and will possibly slip your mind later, is that the meeting rules and rituals are there for a good reason. It might seem silly to be standing during daily Scrum for the first few times, but this will help to keep the meeting short and on point. And while planning the work for only a two week iteration could seem very irresponsible and short sighted, you will later realize this way of working cuts a lot of planning time in the long run.

Therefore make sure to stay along the lines of the meeting rituals, especially in the beginning. They will create right practices and rituals within your organization and that will help you avoid overcrowded, extended and useless gatherings. And if you still feel that some rituals don’t work for you after you’ve completed a good number of iterations, you can change them. Only then you will have experience and will actually understand what will work for you.

  • Have a clear goal to be achieved

Lastly, before going into any meeting, make sure to have a very clear goal and a plan to achieve it. It may be to show your client the results of a sprint and to get an informative feedback in a review meeting or it might be as simple as catching up with the team and logging the progress in the daily Scrum. No matter the type of meeting, without understanding what you are trying to get out of it, you chances of success are slim.

In order to avoid the possibility of making your meetings redundant and fruitless, take some time beforehand and draw a mini plan to understand what you are trying to achieve, who should be involved and how long it might take. By doing that you will save your team a great deal of time and frustration as well as will achieve your goals faster.

Agile meetings and meetings from any other project management practice are not much different – they are all set up to improve project success. However, as with anything else, Agile tries to eliminate as much waste as possible. So to make you do just that, take note of why those meetings were set up and fulfill their requirements as best as you can.

Happy meeting!

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Transitioning to Agile: Understanding the Methods

agile processAgile is not a new concept in the business world by any means – it is being adopted to more and more various fields, innovated and even discarded by some teams that feel they have had enough and are ready to move on. However, as the Agile reign continues, we find some of the practitioners are still trying to figure out how exactly to be Agile. For this, we are launching a series of blog posts explaining and answering some of the questions most new Agile users have.

To practice any methodology, first you have to know what it actually is and we find that there is still a lot of confusion out there about what exactly can be called Agile. So is Agile equivalent to Scrum as many out there believe? Or is Agile an ancestor of Extreme Programming? Let us try and explain everything.

Agile is a term that describes an effective way of working. It was introduced to the mass public by the release of the Agile Manifesto in 2001 and while it does specifically outline 4 values and 11 principles to be followed by the Agile teams, it does not include any particular methodology or recommendations of a methodology to be followed. So in itself, Agile is simply a framework to be followed.

Naturally, after the creation of the Manifesto, the practitioners felt a need of a clear method to be followed and thus the search has begun. Some looked into existing project management tools and though how they could be made to fit the Agile framework, others created whole new concepts and methods completely from scratch. Thus today we have a wide variety of Agile methods to choose from and new ones coming up every single day. Check out our Agile method genealogy tree.

So to answer the questions we have posed in the beginning, Agile is not Scrum, not XP and not any other method in particular, but all of the methods that comply with the Agile Manifesto are Agile. And as long as you are practicing one of them, your team is Agile too.

 

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Agile Hierarchy – How Are The Methods Related?

Have your ever got lost between all of the Agile practices and frameworks? With the methods evolving, changing and appearing constantly, it can get difficult to understand, how they evolved and turned into the form of today. Therefore we decided to make this quick cheat sheet for anyone wondering if SoSKanban and XP have anything in common.

Agile-Hierarchy

For more helpful Agile cheats and tips see The Ultimate Agile Guide.

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5 Agile Rules To Follow Now

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Whether you have just started using Agile or have been doing it for years, there are no guarantees that your process is flawless. With a methodology as vaguely described as Agile many teams find themselves repeating mistakes of the past and still lagging in their process or wasting efforts. However, just like with everything else in life, we are here to learn from those mistakes and thus give you 5 rules to ensure you stay on the right path.

1.       Do not design, do.

While most teams simply cannot do without an initial idea and a sketch of what the final result will look like, many forget that with Agile that is all they have to do. Instead of focusing time and efforts on the perfect design, the team should simply start working on the product and perfect it along the way. The Agile process is created exactly for that and will allow to find the best design not only for the team, but for the customers and other involved parties.

2.       Do not micromanage, lead.

After switching to Agile, the change has to be made not only within the organizational process, but also within the mindset. While the team adopts to changes sooner or later, most companies face problems with the managers. They are usually used to being responsible and somewhat controlling of the team results and in order to keep that feeling in Agile, turn to micromanagement. This, however, obstructs the Agile process, prevents the team from finding the right rhythm and should be avoided at all costs.

3.       Do not wait for feedback, ask for it.

Daily scrums, reviews and retrospectives help keep Agile teams on the right track. However, most teams go into these meetings simply looking for approval that their result is okay and not asking any questions on how it could be made better. By doing so, they miss out on crucial information on what the customer actually wants and in the end deliver a mediocre result. To get the result both you and the client is looking for, use these meetings to ask important questions and to define what sort of product your customer wants, instead of simply getting the OK.

4.       Do not discuss, show.

Another big issue when discussing the final product with your client is in fact the discussion itself. Teams tend to waste quite a bit of time discussing what the product is now and what it should be, instead of simply showing the completed result. When you have a chance, always show the result you have thus far, this will give the client an opportunity to see and understand it a lot better. Not even the best description can surpass having the real thing in front of you and this way you will save quite a lot of time and effort you would have spent explaining things.

5.       Always provide a working prototype.

Talking about showing the product, there is one more thing you should know about prototypes. While you might be tempted to create a fake, better looking version of your final product to show to the client, in most cases that is not a great idea. You should always show the real product in the state that it is that day. This way the stakeholders will be able to try it out, evaluate the UX and give feedback for corrections, something they would not be able to do with a fake. So to get the full and honest review, make sure they can press that button and see what happens.

Have any other rules Agile teams should follow? Share in the comments below!

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The Ultimate Agile Guide

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As Eylean Board counts its fifth year this summer, we felt the need to not only celebrate, but to also share the experiences and knowledge we gathered over the years. And since we are all about the Agile methods and practices, an Agile guidebook seemed like the logical way to go.

Now we are sure you have read many guides explaining what Agile is and how it works, so instead we focused this guide on our personal experiences and tips about the methodologies and how to apply them. We took our own, our clients and third party experiences into account and came up with tips and observations to help in various Agile transition processes.

We hope you enjoy the tips and have a smooth Agile adoption!

Download The Ultimate Agile Guide

 

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The Inevitable Search Of A New Agile Mindset

mindsetFor most of us the concept of Agile is nothing new – it has been around for quite some time and we have a good amount of experience with it under our belt. However, Agile is only now reaching its maturity and that means the practices and its methodologies are still changing. There are new methods, innovations and adaptations coming up constantly and the only thing that has remained the same over the years is the Agile Mindset.

The Mindset has been defined by the Agile Manifesto in 2001 and has been barely touched since. Though what has worked effectively for small development teams in the beginning is a far cry from the answer nowadays. As of now there is yet to be an updated version of the Manifesto or anything that could put its values closer to what we need today. However, due to the changed ways we practice Agile, we believe soon there will be.

Don’t think so? Here are our top 5 reasons why the Mindset will in fact be updated and soon.

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5 Tips For A Smooth Agile Transition

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Whether you are taking Agile on for the very first time, coming back to it after a previous attempt or simply going from one Agile method to another, there are some key things to remember if you want to keep the transition smooth. Check out our 5 key tips on a smooth Agile transition to end up on the right side of change.

  • Understand what is ahead

As with any change in life, first and foremost, you have to take some time and understand what is ahead. We are sure you have not chosen your new method impulsively and put in time and thought making sure it was the right fit. So do not cheat yourself and take some time aside to really understand how this change is going to affect your processes, your team and your company. It may seem silly but having a clear future vision in your head will help you better understand and guide the transition once it takes place.

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Scale Agile with DAD

DAD

Keeping up with our previous coverage of scaled Agile approaches, this time we want to bring Disciplined Agile Delivery otherwise known as DAD to your attention. Like other similar frameworks it focuses on bringing the small scale practices into the big leagues and on shaping them to fit the new rules. Compared to previously discussed SoS, LeSS and SAFe, DAD is less descriptive and requires more Agile knowledge, however it allows for far greater flexibility within the team. So will you be scaling with DAD?

The framework known as DAD was first mentioned by Scott Ambler and Mark Lines in their book by the same name – Disciplined Agile Delivery. It was designed as a way to move past Scrum while the wholesome view and approach allowed teams to grow from small independent groups into large organizations.

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SoS vs LeSS vs SAFe – Which One Is Right For You?

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As the need for scaling Agile practices grows, there is also a growing confusion about which of them are the best and which will actually fit your needs. At the first glance, most of the scaled approaches may look the same but in reality picking the right one is key for successful application. To help you choose your framework, we decided to take a look at Scrum of Scrums (SoS), Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and to write down the key differences as well as similarities between them to help you see how they stack up.

Interested? Let’s dive in!

  • Agile Methodologies In Usemethod

Both SoS and LeSS rely solely on Scrum, applying its practices and roles at a larger scale. This makes these approaches ideal for teams that are already using Scrum and want to scale up without having to go through a large reorganization for it.

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