Agile is not just about stand up meetings and sprints. To deliver superior quality of work to clients, the mindset in the organization across all layers should be flexible and open to embrace change. Agile needs to be looked at as a mindset rather than a set of tools and processes.
The way the team responds to a changes, impediments; and delivers value to the client in small timeboxes as fast as possible, to fetch continuous feedback, is a part of an Agile mindset.
The below article looks at how organizations must shift our practice-based mindsets to more behavior-based mindsets. This will allow organizations to leverage the “Agile” behaviors of collaboration and discovery, to produce valuable outcomes that move business organizations forward.
An Agile mindset focuses not just on the completion of the task. It lays more prominence on the value a certain task is going to bring to the end users. This is the reason why Agile is based on receiving continuous constructive feedback. Cultivating and nourishing this mindset, will result in amazing results - happy employees delivering great value and making clients excited with the results.
It is not just the tools or the certifications that bring about the Agile change, but more importantly the mindset and outlook of the organization which plays a pivotal role in Agile transformation.
Companies are looking forward to better ways and technologies to improve their productivity and efficiency. They can achieve this by bringing about a transformation in the mindset internally towards Agile, and also finding an experienced and expert service provider with Agile DNA.
Finding the right fit
Organization looking for Agile service provider need to take stock of where they are currently and what they want to achieve using Agile delivery models.
Backlog based delivery model – Release and iteration planning can be made easier with a well prioritized backlog which results in clear indication of what the service provider intends to spend time on – including the internal work that the customer might not notice. This helps in setting expectation with the stakeholders, especially when there are additional or change in requirements.
Automation using open source tools – There are certain impediments like cost, quality and coverage that might limit the expansion of automation. So it is important to have right set of open source tools and more importantly to have an automation framework in place, to succeed with test automation. The service provider with an agile DNA will exactly put the above points in place for their clients to reap the benefit of automation.
Hybrid solution – Traditional methodologies are often considered or blamed for not being able to adapt to the changes which makes software quality assurance difficult. While Agile approach has many credits to it but we need to think whether it applicable to all business scenarios. With that being said, we often see businesses using a combination of Agile and Waterfall models. This fusion is often a result of a trade-off to keep some level of planning and also reaping the benefits of iterative, collaborative and flexible approach.
A service provider with a proven Agile methodology in place in their domain area would be an added advantage.
Indicators for an organization’s agile mindset
Inclination to communicate and collaborate
In a good collaborative ecosystem, team members commit to meeting a joint goal, and they're not afraid to step outside their area of specialization to help others on the team. The era of QA department working as an isolated unit is over. Now in Agile world, QA and development team work hand-in-hand to deliver much greater business value to the clients. Agile needs to work both ways, empowering testers from the top down and taking responsibility for their development from the bottom up. It’s about aligning goals across your company so that every department and every member of your staff is pulling the team in the same direction.
Understand the purpose
If a developer does not understand the purpose of a process, they will not know when to follow it and when to adapt it to their current situation. They will also not understand how to improve the process, which is a key part of developing in an Agile way. Similarly, a developer needs to understand the benefits derived out of using a particular technical practice otherwise they may not know when to use it, and when not to, or how to improvise on that practice.
It is highly recommended that senior management conduct proper training which would educate the employees regarding what being Agile is, in its true sense. This will help the team and the organization on the whole to become Agile, be flexible and learn to respond in every situation instead of reacting.
Working software over comprehensive documentation
We believe that getting working software into the client’s hands early is more important than preparing labor-intensive specification documents. In reality, it’s difficult to really know what a solution should look like until someone has a chance to see it, and use an early version.
Teams need to orient themselves to carve out a feature from the high-level requirements that can be built fast and pushed to production (say, within a couple of weeks). Conventional “gates,” sign-offs, deep-dive reviews and inspections need to be replaced with suitable techniques from Agile or by suitable automation.
Accountability at the team level
Different teams developing pieces sequentially in different sprints makes it more difficult to understand when all the teams will complete their pieces of functionality and be ready to integrate and deliver them. One team running late delivering their piece may impact the schedule of other teams.
Different teams working in the same sprint creates a lack of ownership for the feature. The challenges are coordinating the teams working on the same feature and making all teams accountable for design and delivery.
Teams should have an open mindset to embrace change
Whenever you plan a set of features for a release, work with the customer to see if they could make use of a subset of those features. If so, release that subset first. You must then make sure that the features are really what the customer wants. At the very least you should be looking for customer feedback early and often, and building what the customer wants, rather than what you’d like to build.
Look for the following factors within your team