September 21, 2018
So you think you’re agile? 5 Signs your dev team isn’t as agile as you think
Unlike the traditional or “waterfall” method of software development, the agile approach does not treat analysis, design, coding, and testing as discrete phases in a development project. Agile has quickly become the standard methodology as businesses see the many advantages of adopting a more flexible approach to software development.
With testing integrated into the development process from day one, agile development often leads to higher quality products, as well as reducing risk. However, making the switch from waterfall to agile can be tricky. Many development teams end up awkwardly straddling the fence between the two approaches, which can make it difficult to effectively manage resources.
To root out any bad habits that carried over when your development team made the switch from waterfall to agile, look out for these warning signs that your team isn’t as agile as you think.
1. No sprint retrospectives
A sprint retrospective is a meeting that occurs after a one-month development sprint. Usually held once a month, this is an opportunity for teams to discuss what worked well in the sprint, what could be improved, and what the team will commit to doing differently in the next sprint.
If your team does not hold sprint retrospectives, you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to change work processes in order to improve the quality of the end product. Holding no sprint retrospectives means that problems persist throughout the development process, exposing your business to the risks of waterfall methodology.
2. Long stand-up meetings
Many people resist adopting agile methodology because they think they will spend too much time in meetings. While it’s true that agile development involves a daily stand-up meeting, these should be kept short to avoid eating into everyone’s work time. In fact, the name stand-up comes from the idea that people should literally stand during these meetings so they have an incentive not to let them drag on too long. To avoid stand-up meetings overrunning, have someone with good facilitation skills lead the meeting.
3. Improper product backlog management
A product backlog is a list of all the work that needs to be done for a particular product, ordered to prioritize the most important tasks. Sometimes, backlogs can become so large they are difficult to work with. In that case, you need to break the backlog down into short-term and long-term items to make it easier to manage.
4. Failure to deliver product increments after each sprint
One of the principles of agile is that working software is the primary measure of progress. If your team does not deliver a product increment after each spring, that is a warning sign that you are slipping back into waterfall methodology.
5. Urgent tasks that interrupt workflow
When you use the agile approach, your workflows should be regularly adapted to prioritize the most important tasks. If urgent tasks frequently come up and throw your workflow into disarray, that is a sign that the team hasn’t done enough planning to anticipate the upcoming demands of the project. This might be because they are hanging onto waterfall ways of working, such as setting out a roadmap at the beginning of the project and failing to reassess it often enough during sprint retrospectives and daily stand-ups.