Agile Projects

Agile projects are, by their very nature, designed to encourage collaboration. This can in itself provide a somewhat deceptive view on teamwork, as diverged groups huddle together within project silos. The collaborative element needs to extend outside of the project team and into senior management.

The biggest mistake: Alienating management

Management buy-in is the Holy Graal of Agile development. It is the one key to unlocking the understanding and transparency that is crucial in order to gain full benefit of the Agile Software Development framework.

When developing physical products, it is obviously important to align processes with the overall business direction and strategic goals. However, the same goes for software development.  This is not something that can be done halfway through an activity cycle; it needs to happen immediately when the project is born, and continuously throughout the development.

How to get management buy-in

These are some rough guidelines as to how you can connect senior management to your Agile project in a meaningful and helpful way.

  • Offer a single point of contact
    By having a designated person to interact with the leadership team, you will make it easier for everyone to keep track of information and you will help the rest of the team to focus on completing their own tasks. For larger projects, you may want to set up a project mailbox or even a dedicated intranet portal.
  • Provide measurable updates – but without the detail
    Keep a communication channel open through regular updates, but tailor the message to the recipient. Don’t muddy the waters with unnecessary information about the specifics of each sprint. Instead, look to identify the metrics that makes it easy to understand the progress made.
  • Find your stakeholders
    There may be various people within the business who would benefit strongly from the successful completion of your project. Although they may not be senior decision makers, these people can still become advocates for your project in influencing management by highlighting the work you are doing. Don’t underestimate the power of having allies throughout the business!
  • Be accountable
    If things aren’t quite going to plan, don’t hide it! Take responsibility for the current status and assure everyone that efforts are being made to address the challenges. If a senior manager is made aware of any issues as soon as they appear, he or she will be much more likely to understand and anticipate potential future implications.
  • Be an Agile champion
    Not everyone will be familiar with the Agile development framework. This means that it can be dangerous to cast out communication lines to various people outside of the development scrum members, as there is a risk that the people who become involved may question or challenge the framework – or, even worse, stall the project at a critical stage. You can mitigate this risk by working with your internal marketing team to educate the business on the fundamentals of Agile development and how the entire organisation benefits from it.

In many Agile teams there is traditionally some reluctance to maintain communication and transparency into senior management, but this is a key to the success of your software development. Without this element, you will risk missing out on receiving the senior management blessing that can move your project forward rapidly.

At DCSL, we live and breathe Agile. We have a strong development team with a range of skillsets for managing client projects from start to finish, but we also have a deep understanding of how to engage commercially with the wider business in order to get the crucial buy-in from senior management and influencers. We’d be happy to walk you through the various stages of engaging with the business!

Want to know more? Read about our Agile approach.

 

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