Lightweight Agile for Cautious Teams

Your company finally got the memo to consider the Agile approach to workflow management, but you’re not ready to jump all in and reinvent how you do things altogether — this is common occurrence.
It’s never easy to introduce change to companies. Even when the team is open to it, there will be difficulties and hiccups. Not to mention the havoc that forcing changes can create.
What can be done to make an introduction of Agile easier and less demanding for everyone?

Agile calls for making everyone’s workflow transparent to others, hence allowing easy access to stages of progress on all items and for seeing the queue of items, giving some idea on completion estimates.
It’s easy enough to achieve this, especially for co-located teams: just write all tasks on post-it notes and divide them to waiting, in progress and done on a well visible part of your office wall. For more distributed teams, the same can be done with online post-its from Kanban Tool. Digital task storage has the added benefit of creating a record of what was done for the future.

Now that you have all items listed and in front of you, it will be very easy to decide which need immediate attention and which can wait. That’s all you need to make good prioritisation happen.

Instead of listing an entire project as one task, try splitting it into many pieces, as small as possible. The benefit in doing this is in capturing all the requirements before getting to work.
Also, adopting this approach makes the job less daunting. It will save you the time you normally need to spend thinking about how to get a big job started. With a list of small steps, things just happen more easily.
Apply the same principle to projects as a whole too — if it can be made smaller, make it so. The less scope the easier it is to manage and complete.

Arguably, this is the one and only goal of all project management — being able to answer the question “when will X be done?”. Thanks to both better prioritisation and easier job completion, achieved by splitting work into smaller chunks, it will become easy to measure the team’s standard throughput — number of tasks done per week, and — on that basis — to estimate when each work item can be expected finished.

Applying the above approach shouldn’t demand that much work — it’s a basic and ultra light take on making your team more Agile than not.
Why not try it out for yourselves? If there is another one, significant reason to do it, it must be the calming effect that seeing what’s waiting for you for the coming day clearly in front of you. As opposed to knowing there is a number of things you need to do, but not being sure which to get on with first and wondering how many are you forgetting about right now. Leave the remembering part to post-its and focus on a single, most urgent task at hand.

Originally posted on the Kanban Tool Blog.

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