While switching to Agile practices is nothing uncommon these days, we are still often reluctant to accept it when it comes into our lives. This has little to do with the methodology itself and simply rests on the fact that most of us do not like change, any change. The question here is – should you focus on the fact of facing change or should you instead focus on what great rewards you will get after? We pick the latter and here are our top 3 things to look forward to after an Agile switch.
- Meaningful documents and meetings
Having to deal with excessive documentation and unproductive meetings is so common in today’s business world that it has become something we actually expect. However, despite this acceptance, it does not bring any substantial value to the team nor to the product and often creates demotivation instead of what we all seek – productivity.
As recently discussed in the 2015 review, more and more Agile teams are starting to sway away from Scrum and lean towards a different methodology – Kanban. While this may be surprising at first, there actually is good reasoning behind this switch and possibility of this trend continuing into the 2016. Will you be switching as well? Let’s see.
The need for order
For most companies, Scrum has come at a time, when there was a need for a more flexible and at the same time a clearer approach to project management. This was especially true in the case of software development teams that lacked processes and often produced results, just not the ones management was looking for.
Another year nears its end and before the holidays take over our mind completely, we thought it would be interesting to take some time and look back. Every year we analyze data from Eylean to see how our clients have used it and how can we improve in the next year. Most of this data is quite technical, but just like last year, we want to share some of the more interesting findings with you.
Country of origin. Over the years, we have been enjoying a steady growth of interest into project management software. Last year we were happy with an 81% growth of Eylean users and this year we are even more excited with a doubled 156% growth. Most of the new users came from our biggest market – the United States (31%), however, this year we also have new markets in our portfolio, such as China, France and others, proving that agile project management practices are becoming more popular all over the world. While there is some movement in the new markets, the top 5 have retained their strong positions with only some slight changes in the numbers.
Finding out about and covering various Kanban approaches is always very interesting – we want to stay on top of innovation that you are creating in the market. So when a creator of the Arrow Kanban board, Tomas Rybing, reached out to us with his new invention, we were both eager and excited to check it out. This time, he presented the Volcano – another interesting take on the traditional Kanban board.
According to Tomas, the Volcano was born out of the bugging need to combine multiple teams and multiple projects into one space. Unfortunately, the traditional Kanban board layout was not ideal for such a situation as everything ended up being mixed up and hard to separate. To achieve a clearer and more comfortable Kanban setting, he decided to separate the board into specific sections – one dedicated for the multiple product backlog and one section for each team involved in the project. This separation allowed to plan and prioritize the work globally, while at the same keeping the process of each team away from each other.
Both Agile and Startups are terms that have gained massive buzz in the business world over the last years. However, the idea of them mixing with each other has come up only recently. Startups that have been traditionally visualized as messy and uncoordinated have taken up a method that requires teamwork, planning efforts and timed delivery. Some are still struggling with this idea so we thought why not go ahead and ask startups themselves about their experiences?
Eight of Lithuanian startups have answered our call and shared their ups and downs using Agile methods. Here are their experiences and thoughts.
The team behind a field service management and time tracking software Mobile Worker has started using scrum in 2013. They have found the rules to be tough to follow and have decided not practice the routine of a daily standup due to team members being in different locations. However, they instead decided to focus on the benefits that scrum has brought them – they are now able to plan better, evaluate the final product immediately and quickly adjust the course of action depending on the necessary updates and improvements.
A 3D model marketplace founders at CGTrader have started using scrum in the summer of last year. They have done so looking to have clearer planning and allocation of tasks as well as overall control of productivity. While they have achieved their goals and find it that tasks get completed more quickly, they still struggle evaluating tasks accurately. The team members often overshoot estimating their ability and this results in project being behind the delivery date.
Kanban task cards seem like a pretty straightforward thing – take a sticky note, write what you need to do and put it on the wall. However, as teams get bigger and boards are used by multiple teams at once, this is not good enough anymore. We need visualization, clarity and possibility to differentiate the tasks amongst one another. To accomplish this teams innovate and embellish their task cards. Here are our favorite ways to do that.
The simple way
This first Kanban card comes from Daniel Pope at MauveWeb. It is slight but very crucial update to the traditional sticky note approach adding the tracking reference, deadline and the estimate of how long the task will take in specific places of the card. In this way the task card is still kept really simple and does not need any special template, but allows for the team to find the information quickly and have more details on the board.
A few weeks ago we gathered up the top 5 most interesting scrum boards, unveiling the creativity and innovation in scrum. This time we decided to take another popular agile method – Kanban and see how the teams behind this approach have modified and improved their boards to make them more productive or even more fun.
The Space Saver
The issue of available space in the office is well known for most agile teams. While some dedicate their whole office or utilize the office halls, Olivier Lafontan offers a much simpler solution – turning the board into a square. Instead of moving tasks the traditional way from the left to the right column, he suggests moving them clockwise. A simply rearranged Kanban board is much more compact and will save a lot of headaches when starting to use the method.
Source: Olivier Lafontan
We all know about the basic kanban board, the three columns and the WIPs, however, when you have been using kanban for a while, this is usually not enough anymore. At this point most of the teams chose to innovate themselves or start looking for the innovation elsewhere. However, with such little information available, they are truly grabbing on straws. That is why, we were extremely interested in and are excited to introduce to you the arrow approach for the kanban board by Tomas Rybing.
The arrow approach is aimed at transforming one of the key elements of the practice – the kanban board. It strives to optimize and improve the board, by introducing new elements and expanding its capacities. The main differences here are the priority pyramid and limits for the number of rows as well as stories per row. Even though it may sound complicated at first, it is actually quite straightforward and not only innovates the board, but brings it a whole new shape of an arrow as seen in the picture below.
With agile methodologies being as popular as ever, there is no surprise that people are picking their favorites. Some (well actually most) prefer scrum, while others choose kanban. However, what does happen when teams decide that their choice is no longer fitting and go for a switch? Most struggle. Instead of having a smooth transition they go down a rocky road for some time before finally reaching the light. The good news is – you don’t have to.
Switching from one methodology to another makes sense in a lot of cases – your requirements, team, circumstances and other things may change during time and working in the same way may no longer be fitting. To make sure the good intentions of bettering the teams process are well met, you should focus not only on choosing the best approach, but implementing it in the right way as well. And to do that, you simply have to follow these 3 rules:
1. Understand the differences.
When switching from one agile approach to the other, teams should think of it as adopting a completely new methodology altogether. Sure, they are both agile methodologies run in iterations and focused on value, however this does not bring them even close to being the same. Scrum is a very structured step by step approach, with clear roles and a set of rules, while kanban has a more at ease, let the team manage themselves attitude. So, when you decide to switch from one to the other, make sure to fully understand each and every difference. The way you plan, commit to and complete your work will change and you might feel that it is not as effective as it used to be if you are not prepared to embrace it.
Despite the fact, that kanban software solutions have been around for quite a while now, there are plenty of teams that still do not fully understand the benefits of switching from the traditional physical board. Instead of innovating to better their standings, they keep on working in the traditional methods and while this does not mean failure by default, it usually does not mean greatness either. Therefore, if you have been using kanban for a while now or if you are just starting now, you should consider this:
Difficulty in fitting all the tasks within the project board sound familiar? When working with a physical board, your space and possibilities are limited. The space you have is all you get, well unless you get a bigger board, bigger wall and probably a bigger office. Because of this, you have to compromise a lot and modify constantly to make sure your board looks good and represents the project visually. With an electronic kanban software solution like Eylean however you do not have to worry about that at all. Make the board as small or as big as you need to and expand automatically when you add new tasks. No matter how big or how small your board is, you will have all the key information on the task cards and will be able to navigate it quickly.