If you are experienced with Agile but feel like you aren’t getting the most out of your team, it might be because you aren’t focusing on the right areas. There are a ton of different ways to approach projects through the Agile methodology and regardless of how you structure your team there are some specific agile best practices you should hit to ensure you’re working efficiently.
In this article, we’ll highlight 9 best practices to implement when using the Agile methodology.
Using Online Whiteboards
Using professional tools is one important part of constructing an agile team, and online whiteboards are the perfect all-in-one option to get the ball rolling.
Not only do online whiteboards help team members structure their workflow and improve their ability to communicate, but they open the door to a whole world of exercises and collaboration sessions.
With online whiteboards, Agile teams can conduct a ton of different collaboration sessions based on what’s currently most important for their project. Whether that’s analyzing strengths and opportunities, building a project management board, or reflecting on a previous sprint, they can create custom templates for all of these scenarios.
Using online whiteboards can really make a positive impact on the effort it takes for teams to collaborate and manage projects, and they are an increasingly essential item for all Agile teams.
One of the key points of the Agile methodology is its emphasis on iterative development. No matter the size of the project, it’s always important to emphasize this as a critical part of a successful Agile team.
Projects, big or small, are broken down into sprints and are conducted in repetitive cycles. This benefits Agile teams in multiple ways, including allowing for greater flexibility with changing requirements and providing more opportunities for people to learn and improve.
It’s important for Agile teams to continually emphasize this point in order to get the most out of their sprints and avoid scope creep. For this reason, it needs to be a part of our list of Agile best practices.
Collaboration is something that is meant to be a frequent part of the Agile experience, but its importance can be lost on some teams.
Regular meetings are key to developing a team that fully understands each other, the project they’re working on, and their individual tasks. Creating an environment of open communication through regular meetings is therefore extremely important to foster a successful environment.
An easy way for teams to meet daily is by conducting a daily huddle with an online whiteboard. This allows everyone to see the tasks associated with the day, communicate with their peers about expectations, and share a mutual reference point for any further questions.
Integrating Customer Input
One of the reasons Agile is so popular is because the short sprints allow for changes in the vision or execution of the overall project. This includes the integration of customer input directly into product development, something that can be very hard for teams to successfully deliver when developing solutions traditionally.
Collaboration is a key element in integrating customer input, and realizing what’s needed on both the customer’s side and the development side means teams need a place to communicate these changing demands. Often this occurs best within an online whiteboard but can be very effective during in-person meetings as well.
Something that makes Agile unique is it integrates customer input into various different stages of the development process, not just at the start. This is one of the things that makes Agile projects so successful and a reason customer input should be prioritized in every Agile sprint.
Another key benefit of completing projects in iterative sprints is the ability to identify and overcome risks and roadblocks. Planning for potential risks and understanding what problems may arise given the context of previous sprints is a key advantage of Agile and should not be overlooked by new Agile teams.
When purposefully accounting for potential risk, teams can better understand the weaknesses of their current approach and create preventative measures to lessen the likelihood they are exposed to any risk. Creating a system of evaluation and risk evasion is a must for any Agile team, and can be done by conducting regular retrospectives, an exercise we discuss below.
Implementing a Burndown Chart
Burndown charts are mainly used within Scrum but can have important applications to Agile teams at large. A burndown chart is a graph that has days on the x-axis and work remaining on the y axis. A line represents how much work is remaining on each day, with a line from top left to bottom right representing an ideal scenario.
Using project tracking metrics like a burndown chart are very helpful ways that you can communicate sprint requirements and collaborate with your team while doing so. This is an essential addition to Agile teams and something more teams should practice.
Draw burndown chart on Fresco
Maintaining An Accurate Product Backlog
One of the biggest initial tasks for Agile teams is cutting down larger projects into manageable sprints. This means the product manager must determine the work that goes into the overall project and prioritize these issues based on the needs of the customer.
Making sure this is done properly can be the difference between success and failure with Agile sprints, and forms the platform that the rest of the sprints will be conducted on.
In order to best organize a product backlog, the product manager must be prepared to sort features, technical plans, and bugs into categories and prioritize their completion based on value to the customer. The most important items will be listed in very specific detail because they are the first on the docket, while the lower importance items are expanded upon as things are completed and they come into the picture.
If you aren’t prioritizing a clear product backlog, this is definitely an area worthy of focusing on.
Conduct Regular Team Retrospectives
Retrospectives are a specific exercise that can be conducted through online whiteboards and are important for Agile teams in particular.
Since Agile teams work in short sprints, it’s important for them to reflect on their recent progress in a retrospective template. These templates allow teams to categorize tasks/accomplishments into three columns: went well, didn’t go well, and actions.
This exercise allows teams to find out what can be improved upon for next time, what they want to carry on doing from their previous projects, and what specific actions can be taken from these insights.
Implementing retrospectives isn’t required by the Agile methodology but doing so can help yield better results. and for that reason is an important addition to our agile best practices.
Create Self Organizing Teams
A big goal for any agile team is to create self-organizing teams. What this means is when projects are given and broken up, people understand exactly what is expected of them and how they are going to get it done.
Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s important to prioritize this rhetoric so people have an idea of what their goals are as a team. Additionally, there is a much smaller burden on leaders and management to look over people’s shoulders when they are self-organized because everyone has an accurate understanding of what should be delivered.
This practice will evolve over time and won’t become easy right away, but given the right circumstances can take an Agile team to great places.
There are many different advantages to implementing the Agile methodology, taking it a step further and implementing these best practices is a surefire way to see results with your team. If you liked this article make sure you stay tuned to Fresco for more online whiteboard content.