Since 2001, the philosophy of the Agile method has spread around the world, with the original manifesto being translated into 60 different languages. Agile’s focus on breaking down projects into smaller goals to be accomplished and adding goals as needed allows product managers and UX designers to be more adaptable to issues that may arise along the way.
What is Agile?
Creating software can be a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of process. Managing that process in the most effective way possible is the objective, and Agile can be a big help. How? To start with, Agile allows designers to deliver software more frequently, which keeps the client happy and provides the best possible measure of progress: working software. It does this by breaking a project into individual tasks to be done during a specific timeframe, or a “sprint.”
The developers that drafted Agile’s manifesto laid out what they valued, including the idea that individuals and interactions were more important than processes and tools. Using this method means not only communicating face-to-face with other team members, but also helps managers provide the proper motivation to their UX designers.
The combination of regularly delivered product alongside constant communication means that software developed under the Agile methodology can be optimized throughout the development process to reflect the needs of the client, to deliver better value and to address any requirement changes that crop up. It also means that the client feels more connected and involved with the project.
The Advantages of Agile Methodology
Is duplication of work a problem on your team? Agile encourages a daily “standup” where everyone shares what they did the day before, what they plan to accomplish today and what issues are impeding their progress.
Do team members not feel empowered to make decisions? Again, Agile offers a solution—creating a single source of work, known in the methodology as a “backlog.” From there, the team decides on a sprint duration to complete tasks in the backlog and works to accomplish the tasks in that timeframe.
Finally, if client satisfaction has been a concern, the Agile methodology works to address this issue as well. By providing segments of work as they are completed, clients are able to offer feedback earlier in the process, allowing teams to make adjustments and corrections moving forward.
Making Agile Methodology Work for You
To kick off a project using Agile, start with a strategy meeting to establish your vision. Once you’ve got the big picture in place, it’s time to breakdown your strategy into a product roadmap. Keep this loose and high level.
Only after you have your vision and a rough time frame established can you start to set some more definite timetables. Again, these should still have some flexibility built in, but your priorities should be essential features. Now you can start to firm the schedule up by establishing sprints.
As work gets underway with your sprints, start your daily, 15-minute standups to head off any issues before they become roadblocks. As sprints are completed, conduct reviews to make sure all the requirements were met. Once your sprint show-and-tell is done, the final phase is a sprint retrospective to determine what work needs to be done next and if any changes have arisen that will affect work moving forward.