Agile Implementation: Methodology & Strategy

Instructor: Jagina McIntyre

Jagina has conducted professional training in communications and analytics for 12 plus years, with a a degree from Kent State University in Journalism and Communications.

Welcome to agile implementation methodology and strategy, where you will learn the benefits of working within or executing a flexible project plan. This type of project plan leads cohesive teams to producing timely results.

Agile Implementation

Do you have a project idea or business that needs to move forward? How should you go about planning it? You might think of planning the whole thing from start to finish, but what if unpredictable changes need to be made as you go? Perhaps an agile implementation plan would be best for you.

Agile implementation is a form of project management that works in small increments and well suited to projects that could become irrelevant once delivered, especially useful in software development. The key to the agile plan is that it provides flexibility for changes to the product as it continues to be be developed.

The waterfall method is where progress goes from the idea, to analysis and design, to building the product, testing it, and then making it. An agile implementation methodology is an alternative in that it doesn't require one phase of a project to be complete before the next portion can begin.

Example

Imagine you are working for an ice cream company that plans to open up road side stands. Your vision is to have ice cream vendors selling banana splits at the corner of every major crosswalk intersection downtown by the end of the current year.

Using this method would require that a team planning session be held to decide a year from now how this ice cream empire will look and operate.

An agile plan would take a different approach by perhaps starting with the construction of the first cart, selecting the product to sell, and identifying one prime location to place the cart. The agile approach will allow you to get feedback on what's working or not and continue to make revisions to your strategy as your build toward your vision.

The Agile Team

There should typically be at least four roles to the agile team:

  1. the developers - responsible for the actual technical design, programming and testing
  2. the product manager - the subject matter expert who monitors the expectations of the stakeholders
  3. the project facilitator (often called a 'scrum master') - works with the development team to keep a consistent flow and hold to deadlines
  4. the stakeholders- internal or external customers who are nonparticipating yet impacted by the final solution.

Communication among the roles is often daily, excluding the stakeholders, where it may only meet at the end of each sprint release. It is helpful have representatives in the team experienced with agile implementation.

The Vision

The vision should be written and presented to the team first, but also align with the overall company strategy. Within an agile implementation plan the vision should be broad to create room for flexibility.

For example, the vision for the ice cream business was very specific. It stated that there should be road side stands at defined points, selling a very specific type of ice cream. That vision may cause the company to spend all their budget upfront purchasing one flavor of ice cream and narrowing their search for locations.

An agile vision statement would be more like 'We would like to sell ice cream downtown by the end of the year.' The statement has more flexibility and allows for developers to come up with various solutions.

Timeline and Communication

An agile plan includes tentative and loose release dates for portions of the projects, referred to as sprints. An agile plan should contain three to five sprints for shorter projects. For projects that span more than a year, four to six week sprints work best. These sprints are short intervals, where a working product is delivered at the end of of the sprint. Each sprint has a brief planning session to start it off, a sprint release to present the working product, and a sprint retrospective to review the successes and failures within that sprint cycle.

The timeline will have flexible dates, but the communication on adjustments to those dates should be daily among the teams' roles. A key feature of the agile plan is to have accurate and timely communication. The product manager is responsible for representing the stakeholders' voice in the conversation with developers, which is how developers know of business changes.

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