Managing a team is a balancing act. They need direction, but if you’re too hands on then you can often stifle their process. What can a team leader do that doesn’t micromanage their team to death, but inspires them to greater heights of productivity? An agile workflow can help.
For a long time the agile framework influenced teams outside of the software development sector from which it originated. People are evangelical about agile. There are those who are almost rigid in their adherence to the agile framework.
It’s ironic. Agile is about flexibility, bringing together teams and processes in order to create a more effective way to work. Is there a way to teach your team to have an agile workflow without the restraint of an established framework?
What Is an Agile Workflow?
Let’s begin with a brief introduction to agile. The concept of working within an agile framework is different than traditional project management methodologies. A traditional methodology like waterfall is structured, sequential and linear. It goes in phases, one following the other only after the previous one has been completed.
But what happens when there is a change in requirements? Often the team will have to go back to the drawing board. Starting a project again from the beginning is time consuming and costly.
The agile workflow is in response to that rigidity. For one, it works in short sprints that are usually no more than two weeks. It is continuously delivering small tasks and getting feedback on that work from end-users. This allows for teams to respond quickly as changes occur and creates value for end-users.
Assemble an Agile Team
Before you can pick and choose those agile tools that work best for the project, you have to create a team that is open to working within an agile framework. This means finding a team by looking beyond their resumes. Agile is often thought of as almost a philosophy of working.
You’ll want to interview them and get a feel for how they work and even their personalities and temperaments. If they’re not open to working collaboratively, in short bursts of activity and constantly pivoting as needs require, then no matter how many agile workflow tools you provide them, it won’t work.
Team leaders need to be open to an agile workflow, too. You must appreciate each team member for what they bring to the team and give them a platform on which they can freely express themselves. That doesn’t mean you relinquish your position as team leader. Be part of the team, show them where they have to go and be an agile workflow model for them.
Agile Workflow Techniques
Once you have your team in place you can begin to make an agile workflow. This starts with agile techniques. We already touched on sprints, which is part of iterative planning. When crafting your own agile workflow, pick and choose aspects of the techniques below that work best for you.
Let’s outline two of the most popular agile frameworks so you can adopt and adapt to fit your team.
Scrum is a framework for an agile workflow. It is where the term sprint comes from. Each sprint is followed by feedback that informs the plan moving forward to keep the target on the requirements of the end user, even as they change in mid-project.
In scrum there are daily scrums, which are short meetings at the beginning of the work day. In them, teams will discuss what the team did yesterday, what they’re going to do today and if there are any impediments in the way. This way the team can avoid anything that might be blocking their progress and have a clear objective for the day.
When working in scrum, there are things called user stories. These are ways to stay in conversation with the end user and do just-in-time analysis. In short, it’s a high-level requirement. These help teams know what they’re doing, for whom and why.
They’re also a great communicative channel between the team and end users, and that type of feedback is instrumental to an agile workflow.
However, there is also kanban, which relies on a prioritized list of tasks called a backlog to manage activity. This is part of what’s called lean and just-in-time manufacturing, which makes sure that teams have just the amount of resources needed to fulfill their capacity to complete a given task.
Related: Capacity Planning Essentials
Kanban is a visual tool for an agile workflow. It is comprised of a board that is broken up into columns, which represent the workflow. The basic structure of the kanban board is that it is divided into three columns: to do, doing and done.
Kanban cards are the tasks or backlog, which are prioritized and collected under the to do column. From there, team members take them and move them to the doing column, when they start executing the task.
The great thing about kanban as an agile workflow is its transparency for team leaders. They can see at a glance who is working on what and at what stage of completion it is. This is key for tracking and reporting on projects.
They can then make sure teams have the resources they need to get their work done and avoid any bottlenecks to disrupt the workflow. And it keeps team members focused on the task they’re working on.
Use Project Management Tools
You have your agile team and a slew of agile workflow techniques to choose from to help them work more iteratively and collaboratively. The only thing missing now is the project management tool that enables team leaders and team members to use this agile workflow effectively.
ProjectManager.com is an award-winning software that has the flexibility to work within a traditional methodology, an agile framework or a hybrid of the two. It helps teams work better together and tracks their tasks as they move from the backlog to done. Plus, it’s flexible so people can work how they want to and be as productive as possible.
Multiple Ways to Work
Agile teams need different tools than other people in the project, who might be working in a more traditional way. But you don’t want to get a bunch of different tools: that makes collaboration difficult.
ProjectManager.com has multiple project views, so depending on how agile you want to get, you can work on a project in a variety of ways. There is a task list and a calendar view, but also a more traditional Gantt chart that gives team leaders the tools to schedule tasks across a timeline and link dependencies.
The fourth project view is the kanban board. These boards offer teams an agile workflow that is easy to use, saves time and keeps them on task. Cards can be filtered by tags, due dates, progress and assignee, which makes them easy to find in your backlog.
Kanban cards can also be customized how team members work. For example, they can add a to-do list, tag the card, add comments and even attachments. ProjectManager.com has unlimited file storage, so team leaders or team members can add as much relevant documentation and images to the task as needed to facilitate collaboration.
Team Collaboration & Management
With ProjectManager.com, collaboration is at the task level. Teams can comment or tag any team member and bring them into the conversation. They get notified immediately by email, so everyone on the project team is working closely together.
Agile workflows need monitoring, too. It allows teams to respond quickly to any issues that arises. ProjectManager.com’s real-time dashboard is a window into track task progress, team workload, costs and more as it happens. This is perfect for sprint reviews and project evaluation.
Agile teams are self-directed. They need the control that ProjectManager.com gives them to manage their work, create their own tasks, even ones that are not attached to a specific project. This makes them more agile, no longer tethered to a rigid project plan.
ProjectManager.com helps teams with an agile workflow that is supported by our flexible project management tools. Being cloud-based means teams have access to these tools anywhere and at any time. Use ProjectManager.com to work in waterfall, agile or a hybrid methodology: it’s that flexible. Get agile by taking this free 30-day trial today.