Managing an agile team is a balancing act. Agile teams are self-directing, so what can a team leader do that doesn’t micromanage their team but inspires them to greater heights of productivity? Creating an agile workflow with workflow management software can help.
What Is an Agile Workflow?
The agile workflow is the set of steps required to complete an agile project or an agile product development cycle. Those iterative steps are known as agile sprints, which are short product development stages that have a defined timeline.
At the end of each sprint, stakeholder and customer feedback is gathered to plan the next. The main purpose of an agile workflow is to provide a flexible agile project planning tool to maximize productivity and improve customer satisfaction.
Building an agile workflow with workflow management software is ideal for agile teams. With ProjectManager, you can plan your sprints in the kanban board, then build automated workflow processes to eliminate busywork and improve productivity. You can even define an approval process so the right people are marking things as done. Get started with ProjectManager for free today.
Traditional vs. Agile Workflow
Let’s begin with a brief introduction to agile. The concept of working within an agile framework is different from 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 using traditional project management methodologies is time-consuming and costly.
The agile workflow is in response to that rigidity. For one, it works in short agile sprints that are usually no more than two weeks. It is continuously delivering small tasks and getting customer feedback.
This allows for teams to respond quickly as changes occur and create value for end-users. To do so, agile teams need work management software to manage their product and sprint backlog.
Steps of the Agile Workflow Process
This stage is when the agile team defines the product backlog, which is the set of product features to be developed. This is done based on customer and stakeholder requirements. Usually, agile teams start with the minimum viable product and start prioritizing user stories later down in the process.
Once you have defined what’s going to be done, it’s time to assemble a team and start with sprint planning. This is when you assign tasks and resources to your agile team members to get user stories done.
Related: Free Agile Sprint Plan Template
Now everything’s set for the agile team to start working. They’ll start working in each sprint, launch product releases, get customer feedback and repeat the cycle until the final product is delivered. By then, said product should meet all the stakeholder and customer requirements.
A product release occurs every time a sprint is completed. As noted above, the agile workflow process involves a cycle of sprints and product releases until the final product is delivered. This is because the agile methodology seeks to maximize efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Once a final product is developed and tested, the production phase can begin. The agile team must oversee this process and provide support to any other departments.
Once the product is successfully launched, the agile workflow process finalizes. The agile team can move to the next project or product development cycle.
Types of Agile Workflow
Agile is a notorious project management methodology that has several variations. These variations are considered agile frameworks because they share common agile principles and core values, but are different in how they work, which is also true for their agile workflows. Here are the two most important agile workflow approaches.
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 workday. 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.
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 backlogs, 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.
How to Create an Agile Workflow
Now that we’ve learned about the different types of agile workflows that you can choose, we’ll learn the basic process of setting up an agile workflow for your project or product development cycle.
1. Assemble an Agile Team
Before you can pick and choose the agile workflow type that works best for your 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 project management is often thought of as almost a philosophy of working.
2. Choose Your Type of Agile Workflow
Scrum, kanban and other agile project management methodologies have pros and cons. You must consider which of them better fits your organization and your agile team. Remember that you and your team will need to know about the agile manifesto, agile principles, core values and even agile meetings, as they apply to all agile project management approaches.
3. Assign Roles & Responsibilities
Whether you’re working under a scrum or kanban framework, you’ll need to assign roles and responsibilities to your team members. For example, the scrum methodology will require you to find people for specific scrum roles such as the scrum master, product owner and development team.
4. Plan Agile Ceremonies
There are five agile ceremonies or scrum ceremonies: sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review, sprint retrospective and backlog grooming. They’re very important because they give structure to the agile workflow process and foster team collaboration.
5. Plan Sprints
Agile sprints are planned in what’s known as a product development roadmap. To plan sprints you must start thinking about every single feature your product or project deliverable has. To begin with that process, you should start at your minimum viable product, which has the absolutely necessary features and then build up your development roadmap from there.
6. 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.
Create an Agile Workflow with ProjectManager
ProjectManager is an award-winning work and project management 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 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.
Use Kanban Boards for Agile Teams
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 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.
Get Team Collaboration & Management
With ProjectManager, 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 arise. ProjectManager’s real-time dashboard is a window to 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 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 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 to work in waterfall, agile or a hybrid methodology: it’s that flexible. Get agile by taking this free 30-day trial today.