Too often, software development gets stuck in a loop of ideation and testing that beats a product into eventual submission rather than analyzing your process and adapting where you need to. Analyzing and applying different processes can free you from this loop and put you on a path to a more agile and productive team.
Agile is an iterative development methodology that guides diverse teams through internal and external engagements on any project. Agile breaks development into manageable pieces through a series of repeating and focused sprints and helps teams and individuals with project management and implementation. The core values of Agile are quality processes, delivery-focused development, and flexible/adaptable teams.
At Kahoa, Agile processes unleash our team’s productivity and quality in a way that others can’t. We encourage you to apply what is best for your organization, the following are principles of Agile that we emphasize on each project.
Focus on Customer/Client Communication
When technical talk overrides accessibility, customers suffer. You can adopt Agile-centered processes that focus on clients first to keep you from getting bogged down by inaccessible communication, even if it is informative.
Focusing on customer or client communication can look like:
Guiding clients to identify their company’s success metrics
Challenging clients to choose one decision-maker during the discovery phase
Putting ideas and expectations under a microscope through brainstorming activities and extensive group discussions
Beginning a project with clear deliverables, sprint goals, and big-picture visions for the product
Make it Work
When all is said and done, the software has to work.
Imagine this scenario (though maybe you don’t have to imagine): your project has a quick deadline, but the scope of the application has changed once already. Meetings leave you with whiplash as features are removed or added at the last minute.
Even in the face of roadblocks and unexpected issues, your focus should be on making it work. This way, you can prioritize and get rid of unnecessary features that get in the way of your project’s success.
Apply Changes to Learn and Adapt
In the Agile Manifesto, it states that “we have come to value...responding to change over following a plan.” At Kahoa, we take this to heart. We build software to learn things that we then apply to future projects and use to find new, innovative solutions. The practicality of responding to change and being adaptable comes through managing goal creation, following through, and consistent reflection.
Agile guides us to create both group and individual goals. Managers should follow up with their team members to promote progress. Goals should focus on learning Agile principles and adapting to change.
When you follow through you are applying the goals that you made. This can be measured through employee performance, team structures, or development processes.
Sometimes called retrospectives, reflection is an opportunity for you and your team to review goals, manage project changes, and adapt to ongoing roadblocks. Reflection can be formal or informal depending on the needs of your team.
With Agile, you can give your team a complete view of the project lifecycle by focusing on small-scale deliverables and testing each function as it appears. Important tests include quality assurance, user-research testing, and load testing. For many, testing comes after everything is done—if at all.
Testing is a necessity that many mistakenly overlook. Frequent and consistent testing can give you clarity like fog clearing off a road while you’re driving. It reveals pitfalls, roadblocks, as well as lets you know if your team is on the right path and how to get back if you’ve taken a wrong turn.
Develop a Repeatable Process
Specific, repeatable processes are essential to the longevity of your Agile practices. Consider integrating some of these consistent, important events:
Sprints are a flagship tool of the Agile development process. Projects are broken up into either weekly or bi-weekly sprints as a way to organize tasks and keep teams on track. Iterative sprints encourage open communication as teams regularly collaborate on deliverables.
Retrospectives happen at the end of sprints with project managers and team members as they discuss performance, goals, and actionable steps for the future. This is an opportunity for managers to work with their team, analyze productivity, and make any necessary changes.
Every day, team managers can ask employees to stand up and deliver an accountability report. What was accomplished the day before? What will be accomplished today?
At Kahoa, our technical team of developers and designers consistently creates quality products with mindful processes that encourage collaboration, delivery, and repeatability. These Agile pro-tips reflect our experience managing development and design projects for our clients, but how they are implemented will greatly depend on your vision and long-term goals.
Generally, adopting an Agile (or even Agile-ish) methodology is a great way to create a results-driven development team.
focus on client communication,
make it work,
apply changes to learn and adapt,
and develop a repeatable process,
you will take your technical team to the next level and beyond.
We’d like to thank some of our wonderful Kahoa employees for contributing to this best practices article: Jeff Ribeira (Designer) and Steve Young (Product Manager).