3 things agile teams do to become rock stars

Chinmay Kulkarni

In this day and age when technology is always changing, Agile has become the favorite methodology for many industries. On one hand, project teams want to embrace this transformation and deliver quality products to customers quickly, expecting appreciation for their timely and successful delivery. However, they may not have the right mindset for Agile, which can lead to failure in adopting the Agile approach.

It is often said that time is money, and this was certainly true for my parents when they would tell me not to waste time as a kid. They knew from experience that every minute wasted was a minute of potential earnings lost in the future. I'm sharing this example because it's relevant to the major challenges and mindset blocks that agile teams face which can make their agile journey quite difficult. When these teams find themselves in the midst of a problem, they often end up creating a new version of Agile altogether.

Let us go through some of the key challenges that are encountered in agile transformation, resulting in time optimization:

1. We need teams that have a culture to organize themselves:
Managers play an important role in setting the tone for agile adoption within their teams. It is not enough for the team to simply "DO AGILE" - they must "BE AGILE" in their mindset and approach. To encourage this, the manager should set expectations for the team to be self-driven and increase communication among team members. Once dependencies are reduced within the team, a lot of idle time can be saved, increasing the team's productivity and velocity.

2. We need to make full use of Agile tools

When it comes to implementing an agile tool, there can be a lot of mistakes that teams make that hold them back from using the tool to its fullest potential. Poorly written user stories, missing acceptance criteria, and not configuring the required fields are just a few of the common mistakes that can be made. If these things are not done properly, it can make the team lose confidence in the tool and make them switch back to using something like Excel, which is a more traditional reporting method.

Before using any tool, it's important that you as an agile team understand the specific problem that the tool is meant to solve. Once you have a good grasp of that, you can then tailor and customize the tool to fit your needs before using it.

This will help you increase efficiency by not having to use excel and instead, using the tool that was created for the specific job. You can also ensure the accuracy of data, instead of having to double-check for yourself in excel.

3. Your star teams need to track their efforts and report them in the tool.

It is common knowledge that time-tracking is a pain in the ass, but in order to fully commit to agile, the team must be diligent in monitoring their own progress on a daily basis. This allows for not only greater transparency and accountability within the team but also allows for the identification of any potential problems early on. In waterfall, it is easy to manage progress and accommodate delays, but it is much more difficult and expensive to identify problems later on down the line.

While agile provides the ability to see progress and potential issues as they occur, it's just as important to track time spent in order to understand where improvements can be made. Doing so can help improve sprint planning, capacity, and velocity, as well as build customer confidence in the team - which is essential, as customers are paying for the time we spend working on their behalf.

When it comes to being agile, it requires more than just a change in perspective or methodologies - it necessitates a cultural shift within the organization as a whole. This means that everyone from the C-suite down to the front-line workers needs to be bought into the idea of working in an agile way. What this then entails is that teams need to break down silos and dependencies, make use of tools religiously, and view time tracking as an investment rather than an overhead. The data collected through time tracking can help teams manage their work, monitor their progress and performance, and achieve a smooth pace. And since the customer pays for the time we invest, the saying fits “TIME IS MONEY”.

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