What to expect when moving to an Agile methodology of work

Published 4/25/2022

As businesses aim to move faster and work with greater flexibility, more teams are questioning traditional approaches to project management and turning to agile methodology instead. 

In a nutshell, agile is a more iterative and incremental approach to project delivery, breaking down a project into several phases, with continuous improvement at each stage. It results in better control and transparency, improved project predictability, reduced risk, more relevant metrics and better results.

So with that being said, what’s holding you back from making the move to agile methodology?

X is Y Management Consultant, Laura, has reflected on her own experience moving from traditional ways of working to the agile approach we use with our client projects.  Here, she shares seven key things that Data & Analytics teams and business users might expect themselves when making the change.

1. Be ready to get into a rhythm of work, commit time and rethink your routine

Traditional D&A development is a bit like getting a gym membership and just going when you feel like it, easing into it by going whenever, doing whatever exercise you feel like and ‘trying’ to have a healthier diet. It could probably work and you could probably lose weight but there’s also a very high chance you might not. Instead, agile is like working with a personal trainer. There is a goal discussed upfront, a roadmap to get there, and a person keeping you accountable every step of the way to get there. There is a method and a timeline that gladly (or sometimes painfully) we commit to and have to follow through

2. Agile projects need a high level of technical expertise 

As a D&A practitioner, working with Agile will encourage you to develop dashboards, metrics and pipelines quite early on in the project. To be able to deliver, your development team will need to show a considerable level of technical expertise and proficiency that will allow them to go through iterations of the development process in shorter periods of time. 

3. D&A practitioners: Get used to working with your clients every day!

The days of fighting to get time in Senior Leadership/ Business Owner’s diaries are over (mostly). It's expected that clients and/or impacted users are involved in daily and weekly meetings as part of the development process. As an Agile BI development team, you’ll build products with your clients, not just for them.

4. Challenge everyone involved to deliver functioning data products at early stages of the project

Agile is about delivering technically-good and business-relevant data products early and often. This is a challenge for everyone involved (development team, client and users alike) because everyone plays an important role in the outcome. The challenge is to build trust, align business definitions, communicate your side of the job and remove blockers for the product to be released successfully. 

5. Avoid ‘flavour of the month’ requirements

Agile projects prompt upfront commitment from the business to think about their future. Where do they want to get to and how would they measure that progress towards success? Agile involves looking at the business strategy and then connecting the dots to the data related tasks. This helps teams align and better prepare to deliver throughout the project. To a point, it removes uncertainty and generates a higher probability of success. 

6. You will add new tools such as ‘reflection’ and ‘vulnerability’ to your toolkit

Agile teams spend time reflecting, talking and recording ideas, feelings and thoughts related to them as people, and how they can improve in the way they work as a team. Retrospective meetings acknowledge the dynamics of human interaction and turn it into a tangible task in the project. Often an organisation’s limiting beliefs, self-imposed limitations, stress or uncertainty play a role in the outcome of a project, but it is not often discussed, and surely not as openly as you’ll experience working in Agile. It creates psychological safety and builds trust. 

7. You’ll feel energised by the reduced levels of bureaucracy and hierarchy in the approval processes through the development of the project

Often D&A teams and users work on developing reports and dashboards relevant to them, yet approvals remain available only to Senior Leadership. Because teams and users alike are part of the process and are constantly asked to provide input, agile methodology is much less hierarchical and therefore much more empowering. It requires everyone involved to be highly connected to the goals and what success looks like for the project. While it can be nerve wracking at times, it will develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for success amongst people involved.

Are you interested in new ways of working to improve outcome delivery for your business, or for your clients? Get in touch to find out more about our approach - whether you’re keen to work with us, or alongside us

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