The Importance of Agile

By Numan Ahmed – Delivery Lead

Why Agile is important and what it means to me as a delivery lead.

You hear so many organisations adopt Agile to deliver products/projects from large organisations the likes of Amazon, Spotify, BBC through to small-to-medium size consultancies. But what is all the fuss about? Sometimes to really talk about something in earnest you must draw from your own experiences, so here goes!

Collaboration

So, what does Agile mean to me a delivery lead at Crimson Macaw:

For me it’s a better and more collaborative approach to delivering projects to our clients. Agile principles push us towards working more collaboratively, breaking down silos internally and externally.

When we talk about collaboration, this means within the delivery teams (here at Crimson we call them squads), working on client solutions and also working collaboratively with our clients.

This is done through daily stand ups to discuss where everything is up to and more importantly to discuss blockers. These quick 15-minute meetings involve Crimson Macaw squad members and team members from the client side.

Along with the daily stand ups, we also hold sessions once a fortnight called ‘Backlog Refinement’. This is where the client can help prioritise workload, set goals for the coming weeks of the project, determine what requirements to tackle next and ensure we have enough detail for the team to work on them.

Continuous communication and working as one team, made of internal and external members, really helps create the best solutions.

Iterative and Incremental development

A crucial aspect of Agile is iterative and incremental development.

This is where we break large chunks of work into smaller increments and work on delivering them (in short, time-boxed periods called sprints). We have planning sessions before each call to plan out the work, which includes estimating the effort, and discussions of how it will be tackled.

Once a sprint is complete, we hold a review/show-and-tell with our clients. This provides them with early sight of value and provides us with user feedback which ensures the solutions we are delivering are right for our clients. With this feedback we can understand if we are on the right track, or if something needs changing, allowing us to pivot quickly without going further down the wrong path.

And of course when you amaze everyone with the work done its always a great feeling for us all!

Continuous Improvement

One of the main aspects of Agile working for me is the idea of continuous improvement. We learn by doing. We learn from every sprint, and we look to get better, deliver more and deliver faster than before. That is one of the key reasons I love facilitating ‘retrospectives’ after a ‘sprint’ has been completed. Within these sessions the team gets to together to discuss what is working, what’s not working, what is slowing us down etc.

This is an open safe space where the team are encouraged to be completely honest about the ways of working. From this, we can agree on actions that can help us with future sprints and future projects. Putting squad feedback into action allows us to continually improve how the project is operating, and in turn leads to a happier more motivated teams increasing the quality of the work and faster delivery.

There is so much more to Agile than what I have discussed (I haven’t even started to discuss the different frameworks), however these are few of my thoughts of why I love working within Agile delivery.

Here at Crimson Macaw, we have adopted a scrum plus framework for delivering projects for our clients, and true to Agile principles we are always striving to continuously improve day to day.