Created as a “product” of software engineers back in 2001 with the aim of compensating for the shortcomings of traditional work methodologies, Agile workflow has become a widely used project management approach thanks to its results, even in industries outside of software engineering.
The Agile workflow methodology is based on high flexibility, teamwork, and open and direct collaboration with clients in order to successfully implement projects and ultimately achieve high-quality results.
Let’s explore the characteristics of the Agile workflow methodology, its advantages over traditional project management systems, and which types of agile methodologies would best suit you and your business needs.
What is Agile Workflow?
The pillars of the Agile methodology are constant monitoring and adaptation, which are based on frequent communication within the organization, not only among employees but also with clients and customers.
This ensures that feedback is received, and the work process and development are monitored and changed as necessary.
Therefore, unlike detailed planning and strict adherence to a plan, Agile methodology emphasizes interaction with individuals, collaboration with clients, and a relationship-based approach rather than just a contractual one.
Agile methodology is used for complex business projects. This methodology is also good for variable and dynamic jobs where it is necessary to act and respond quickly to requirements and changes.
To achieve this, the team needs to constantly collaborate and deliver their work on a consistent basis. This ensures that the work process is monitored, and if a problem arises, it can be quickly responded to and adapted to changes.
Agile Workflow vs. Traditional Workflow
Agile workflow and traditional (waterfall) workflow are two distinct project management methodologies, each with its own advantages. In the table below, you can see the characteristics of each.
|Iterative approach that involves completing tasks in short sprints, receiving feedback, and making adjustments until the project is complete
|Linear approach where each phase depends on the prior phase’s completion
|High degree of flexibility, making it more adaptable to changing project requirements
|Limited flexibility, making project changes more difficult.
|Promotes collaboration and open communication among the team members
|Communication is more structured, with clear lines of communication and reporting
|Lack of a clear project timeline, along with constant changes, can make some projects difficult to manage
|Clear project timelines and milestones
|Some team members might not feel comfortable in this dynamic and constantly evolving environment.
|All team members are aware of their roles and responsibilities
Benefits of Agile Workflow
The benefits that the implementation of agile methodologies can bring are as follows:
- Greater flexibility. Agile workflow processes do not require a highly detailed plan that must be strictly adhered to. Instead, tasks can be adjusted based on changes and new requirements, allowing for greater flexibility in management.
- Improved customer satisfaction. Customers are involved throughout the process, allowing for product adjustments tailored to their needs. Customer feedback, which includes their reaction to the product, is ultimately what shapes the final product. This customer-focused approach benefits both the employer and the customer as the product adjusts to market needs.
- Faster time-to-market. Agile methodology results in faster and better productivity, allowing for quicker product delivery. This is achieved by prioritizing tasks and smartly allocating time and resources. The work process is divided into shorter intervals, allowing for constant monitoring, recognizing problems on time, and adjusting to changes.
- Enhanced team collaboration. Improved communication and collaboration among colleagues within the organization, as well as with clients and customers, improves information flow, reduces the likelihood of mistakes, and increases opportunities for improvement, idea exchange, and successful work.
- Better quality. Agile workflow emphasizes collaboration among employees, clients, and customers. As a result, production processes are improved to ensure a high-quality end product.
Types of Agile Workflow
The agile technique is not a single, all-encompassing methodology. Rather, it includes a wide variety of approaches.
Let’s explore some of these approaches in a bit more detail.
Scrum is a popular agile methodology that is anchored in frequent meetings that allow for a constant flow of feedback. This approach typically involves a cross-functional team with clearly defined roles and shared responsibilities for completing the work.
The team works in sprints, with each sprint lasting one to two weeks. The sprints enable the team to break down a larger project into smaller, more manageable chunks, allowing for more flexibility in adapting to changes in project requirements.
XP, or Extreme Programming, is an agile software development methodology that emphasizes working with clients and improving the quality of the product by resolving client requests and receiving targeted feedback.
This approach is intended for smaller teams that work on projects that are not overly complex.
The product delivery cycle is typically between one and three weeks, and the methodology involves continuous work with clients, constant testing of the product, and targeted feedback, all with the goal of improving and adapting to market needs.
Teamwork is crucial in the XP methodology, which is why this approach typically involves teams of two to twelve members.
Unlike Scrum, Kanban does not have defined deadlines or sprint durations. Instead, it specifies the amount of work that is delivered. Also, the Agile Kanban methodology does not mandate daily meetings.
There are no designated roles in the team, and the whole team is equally responsible for the project.
This essentially means that everyone might be considered a leader, which can be detrimental because the responsibility for ensuring that the work is aligned with business goals and practices can always be evaded or shifted to someone else, potentially leading to chaos.
The Crystal methodology is used for projects with 6 to 8 team members. It does not require the use of any special techniques or tools.
The methodology focuses on frequent delivery, with the goal of constantly assessing whether the product’s current state aligns with the idea and concept of what is required. Close communication within the team is crucial, as direct conversations and collaboration allow for continuous monitoring and tracking of the work process.
The exchange of ideas and opinions is highly encouraged, potentially leading to innovation and creative problem-solving.
Agile Workflow Steps
To make it easier to understand how the agile workflow method works and what usually happens in a successful process, we’ve identified six main agile workflow steps.
These project management phases are:
The cornerstone of every project and process that leads to the end result is the idea and goal setting.
During this initial phase, the development team, together with stakeholders, gathers ideas, conducts research, and analyzes data to gain a better understanding of the project and the path to the end result.
After a clear idea is defined, the work phase begins. The company seeks to form teams, determine the project’s scope, create a roadmap, and work on securing resources.
There is no single formula for a perfect inception, but it certainly relies on a good understanding of the goal, team members, and good organization of the process, as well as goal prioritization.
This is the development phase. This means that, depending on the chosen framework, the team starts working in sprints or cycles with the aim of testing every aspect of the product.
This includes collaboration with the client or end-users to get feedback that will help the team understand the product’s stage and which path to take to achieve the best result.
#4. Product Release
The deployment of the product to stakeholders and customers is a component of the product release phase. After conducting numerous tests and quality checks, the team provides valuable feedback on the product, ensuring its readiness for sale and deployment to stakeholders and customers.
The previous phase will answer whether the product is ready for production and, therefore can meet the broader needs of end-users. If the team is satisfied with the feedback and additional testing has been conducted, the product release phase begins.
The retirement phase is when the team discontinues the product. This can happen because the product is outdated or not useful anymore. The team may also retire the product to make room for a newer version or a completely different product.
During this phase, the team makes sure that all data is transferred or deleted safely and that the product is properly taken out of service.
Process of Creating an Agile Workflow
The creation of an Agile workflow process that brings desired results and enhances your team’s efforts involves the following key steps:
- Learn about Agile workflow principles. The first step in creating an Agile workflow involves understanding the principles and values established by the Agile Manifesto in 2001, which form the foundation of the entire methodology. Although over 20 years have passed since then, the essence of these principles remains unchanged. Understanding these principles allows individuals, teams, or companies to fine-tune the agile method to their needs and goals.
Choose the right framework. Once you have gained an understanding of the basic principles of agile methodologies, the next step is to choose an appropriate framework. This typically involves additional research and learning about various options such as Scrum, Kanban, XP, or Crystal. Each framework adheres to the principles of the Agile Manifesto but also has its own unique set of principles, practices, and tools that have emerged as a result of adapting to the diversity of teams and organizations.
- Create a roadmap. The next step is to create a roadmap that outlines the steps and milestones involved in implementing the workflow. This may involve identifying the key tasks and deliverables, setting timelines and deadlines, and determining the resources and tools needed to support the process.
- Assign roles. In every team and organization, the most significant factor is the people and the roles they play. Therefore, it’s essential to assign each team member a role, such as product owner, scrum master, or team member, based on their skills and expertise and to ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities.
- Start using the workflow. Finally, use an agile workflow! This involves monitoring progress, responding to changes, and improving the process based on feedback and lessons learned.
Agile Workflow Challenges
Agile methodology is a business approach that comes with many benefits, but it also faces challenges that come with certain agile workflow steps.
Some common challenges are:
- Too much documentation. Given that the work process consists of continuous execution and the oversight of tasks, communication, and collaboration, it is necessary to document the entire process to track the workflow, which can slow down the development process and unnecessarily burden the work with excessive documentation.
- Large and remote teams. It is more difficult to establish communication and close collaboration due to the geographical separation of the company and clients. It is also more challenging to maintain and establish relationships when working with a large number of people, which is the case with complex projects.
- Company culture. In companies defined by formalism and hierarchical structure, it will be harder to transition to an approach that involves Agile workflow, which requires flexibility, collaboration, open communication on all levels, and a good response to changes.
How to Know if Your Agile Workflow is Efficient
There are several indicators that you can track to determine if your Agile workflow is efficient.
Firstly, delivery time is an important factor to consider. You should set a time and quantity for each task and monitor its consecutive completion. If the task is completed within the allotted time with optimal work performance, it means the workflow is successful.
Secondly, customer satisfaction is another important indicator. The reaction of customers to your products and services is a good measure of your production quality.
Finally, team productivity is also a key factor to look at. If the entire team is involved in the organization and there is a good atmosphere with effective communication and collaboration among team members, that is a good indicator of the success of the workflow.
In today’s fast-paced business world, changes in the relationship between companies and clients are frequent and require a quick response from the team to deliver high-quality results efficiently.
That is why operating on the principles of the Agile Manifesto, gathering a team and assigning roles, selecting an appropriate framework, creating a roadmap, and using the workflow effectively can enable your team to make constant progress and provide an adequate response to fast-changing circumstances.
Utilizing a well-planned workflow can ensure that your client receives the desired service or product on time and as requested.