Agile workflow has gained significant popularity as it offers a dynamic approach to project management. It enables teams to respond quickly to evolving requirements and deliver value incrementally.
However, implementing an agile workflow can be daunting without proper guidance and understanding.
This guide will shed light on agile workflows and provide a step-by-step roadmap to use the concept immediately.
Whether you are a project manager, team lead, or cross-functional team member, you will find the knowledge and tools needed to embark on an agile journey.
What is an agile workflow?
Agile workflow is a contemporary project management approach that enhances efficiency by dividing the project into smaller, manageable cycles. It also actively engages customers in product development, incorporating their feedback throughout the project lifecycle.
Agile workflow is commonly used in IT development, but you can apply it to other fields. Its goal is to enable teams to respond quickly to changes, deliver value incrementally, and continuously improve their processes.
Agile workflow vs. traditional workflow
Now that we know basic agile principles, let's explain the differences between traditional and agile workflows.
Flexibility: Prioritizes adaptability and flexibility. It embraces change and allows for iterations and adjustments throughout the project.
Predictability: Based on a predictive approach that aims to plan and define all project details upfront. It often assumes that requirements will remain stable throughout the project.
Iterative: Breaks down the work into smaller increments or sprints. They are developed, tested, and delivered in short cycles.
Sequential: Follows a sequential or linear approach. Distinct phases, such as requirements gathering, design, development, testing, and deployment, are typically completed in sequences.
Customer collaboration: Emphasizes regular customer collaboration and feedback. Customers actively participate in the project, providing input and validating increments as they are delivered.
Customer sign-off: Customer involvement tends to be more limited. It concentrates on sign-off at significant milestones or project completion.
Continuous improvement: Each iteration ends with retrospectives. They enable teams to reflect on their processes, identify areas for improvement, and make adjustments.
Post-project evaluation: Reserves evaluations and post-project analyses for the end. It puts less focus on immediate improvements during the project.
Empowered teams: Promotes self-organizing, cross-functional teams. Team members collaborate closely, make decisions collectively, and take ownership of their work.
Hierarchical structure: Clear division of roles and responsibilities. Managers or project leads make all the decisions.
Time-to-market: Aims for faster time-to-market by delivering increments of working software or tangible outcomes early and frequently.
Comprehensive planning: Tends to involve extensive planning and documentation upfront. It often results in longer development cycles and delayed product delivery.
Communication and collaboration: Prioritizes communication and cooperation among team members, stakeholders, and customers. Face-to-face interactions, daily stand-up meetings, and frequent feedback loops facilitate effective communication.
Documentation: Communication and progress tracking relies more on detailed documentation, formal reports, and approvals.
It's important to note that the choice between agile and traditional project management workflows depends on the nature of the project, your organization's needs, and the specific context.
Agile workflow: Types
Here is a list of the most frequent types of agile workflow:
Scrum is an iterative and progressive method that focuses on delivering value in short iterations called sprints. This agile workflow model emphasizes collaboration, transparency, and adaptability.
Scrum teams include a product owner, scrum master, and development team. The product owner defines and prioritizes the product backlog containing a list of desired features.
During each sprint, the team selects a set of backlog items to work on, creates a sprint backlog, and collaboratively develops the increment.
Daily scrum meetings facilitate communication and coordination. At the final stage of each sprint, team members analyze the process to gather feedback and make improvements.
Kanban is a visual workflow management system that aims to optimize the work steps. It emphasizes continuous delivery and limiting work in progress (WIP).
Kanban boards display the status of tasks, typically represented by cards moving through columns. The columns represent stages of the workflow, such as "To Do," "In Progress," and "Done."
Agile teams pull work from the backlog based on capacity. They focus on completing tasks rather than working in time-boxed iterations.
Extreme Programming (XP)
Extreme Programming (XP) is an agile software development methodology emphasizing frequent feedback, continuous testing, and continuous delivery.
XP advocates for a short software development cycle, pair programming (two programmers collaborating on one task), and collective code ownership.
This agile approach includes practices like:
Minor, frequent releases
Feature-driven development (FDD)
Feature-driven development is one of the most popular agile workflow models focusing on delivering features or functionalities on time. It emphasizes domain object modeling, iterative development, and feature teams.
This agile method starts with developing an overall model of the system. Then, it breaks it down into a list of features. Next, teams plan, design, develop, and review these features iteratively. Each team is responsible for specific features.
Agile workflow process: Steps
Usually, the steps in the agile workflow lifecycle are consistent across projects and include:
In this step, the focus is on generating and exploring ideas. It involves brainstorming sessions, research, and gathering insights to identify potential opportunities or solutions. The goal is to develop ideas to address an issue or meet a specific need.
Once the ideas are ready, the inception phase begins. It involves evaluating and selecting the most promising ideas. This step includes assessing feasibility, market potential, and alignment with your organizational goals.
The selected ideas are further refined and shaped into potential projects or initiatives.
In the iteration phase, you develop and refine the selected ideas.
The phase involves multiple cycles of planning, execution, and evaluation. It incorporates feedback loops to ensure continuous improvement.
Each iteration results in an increment of the product or solution under development.
The release phase marks the point at which the developed product or solution is ready to be introduced to the target audience or market.
It involves final testing, bug fixing, and preparation for launch. Releases can occur in stages, with an initial release followed by subsequent updates or versions.
Once the product or solution is released, it enters the production phase – it is made available to the intended users or customers. The focus is on delivering the product at scale, ensuring its stability, reliability, and ongoing maintenance.
The retirement phase occurs when a product or solution reaches the end of its lifecycle or is no longer viable or relevant. It involves the decision to discontinue the product or transition it to a legacy status.
How to create an agile workflow
To create an effective agile workflow, follow these steps:
Adopt the agile principles
Embracing the core principles of agility is essential to develop an agile workflow. These principles include:
Prioritizing individuals and communications over processes and tools
Valuing working software over comprehensive documentation
Fostering collaboration with customers
Embracing flexibility and responsiveness to change
Develop product backlogs and sprints
Once you have built an agile development workflow, setting up a product backlog is next on your to-do list. It lists everything you want to include in your project, like features, functionalities, and requirements. And the key is to prioritize them so you know what to tackle first.
The product backlog is a single source of truth and guides the work.
Break down the items on the backlog into smaller, manageable tasks or user stories.
Organize the work into sprints – time-boxed iterations typically lasting 1-4 weeks. Each sprint focuses on delivering a set of prioritized items from the product backlog.
The sprint development cycle includes selecting backlog items to focus on in a given sprint. While doing this, consider the priority and estimated effort of delivering the item.
Define roles and assign tasks
Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of team members involved in the agile workflow. It may include:
A product owner responsible for managing the product backlog and setting priorities
A scrum master accountable for facilitating the agile process and removing obstacles
Team members responsible for developing and delivering the work
Assign tasks or user stories to agile team members based on their skills and expertise.
Implement the agile workflow
With the roles defined and tasks assigned, it's time to implement the agile workflow.
Begin by conducting daily stand-up meetings, where sprint teams provide updates on their progress, discuss any challenges or impediments, and ensure alignment on goals. These short, focused meetings promote transparency, collaboration, and rapid decision-making.
During the sprint, encourage frequent communication and collaboration. Ensure the agile team stays on track and addresses any emerging issues promptly.
At the end of each sprint, conduct a sprint review. Showcase the completed work to stakeholders and gather feedback.
Additionally, hold a retrospective meeting to reflect on the sprint and identify areas for improvement in the next iteration.
Create an agile workflow with workstreams.ai
Pen and paper are enough to create an agile process flow. However, using software solutions can boost the effectiveness of agile project management.
workstreams.ai is an excellent option for creating an agile workflow. This project management tool enables you to tackle tasks easily, keeping them neat and organized. Its benefits include:
Seamless integration: workstreams.ai connects to your calendar and popular tools and platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Trello. It allows you to easily create tasks where you communicate, saving time and energy.
Monitoring and reporting: workstreams.ai offers comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities. It provides insights into project management performance and helps identify and rectify inefficient workflows.
Scalability: workstreams.ai is scalable, catering to both small businesses and large enterprises. It adapts to your evolving needs, allowing for smooth growth and expansion of your business.
To create an agile workflow with workstreams.ai, sign up for free. Then follow these steps:
Set team goals: Align and motivate your team with goals. View different tasks from different task boards in one place, and address them together as a team.
Track time allocation: By tracking the time spent on each task at every step of your process, you can compare completion times between tasks and make necessary adjustments.
Use analytics and tracking: workstreams.ai provides Cumulative Flow Charts for each project, which can help you cultivate an agile mindset and make data-driven decisions.
Automate tasks: Automation allows you to create advanced workflows for redundant processes, saving time and reducing the number of errors.
As you embark on your agile journey, remember that agile methods are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Tailor your approach, experiment with different practices, and embrace continuous learning and adaptation mindset.
A flexible and intuitive team management software will significantly help create agile workflows. workstreams.ai is an excellent workflow optimization tool that ensures successful project delivery, effective team collaboration, and customer satisfaction.
Whether you lead a marketing agency or work in the software industry, workstreams.ai will help you create a flexible workflow. It will improve your hiring processes, campaign management, customer support efforts, opportunity leads management, and many other operations.
You can use workstreams.ai completely free. Just create an account. In the free version, you have access to all features for teams up to 3 members; no credit card is required.
- What are the 6 steps in the Agile methodology?
The agile methodology typically consists of the following six steps:
Requirement gathering and analysis
Continuous integration and testing
Customer feedback and iteration
Retrospective and continuous improvement
The agile methodology embraces change, collaboration, and customer-centricity.
- Does Agile have sprints?
Agile methodologies often incorporate the concept of sprints. A sprint is a time-boxed iteration within an agile project, typically one to four weeks long. It is a fixed timeframe in which a team plans, executes, and completes a set of prioritized work items or user stories.
- What is Kanban style?
Kanban is a project management methodology that follows a visual workflow system. It originated from the Toyota Production System and has been adapted for knowledge work and software development projects. Kanban utilizes a board, often called a Kanban board. It visualizes work items, their current status, and the flow of work through different stages.
- Are Scrum and Kanban both Agile?
Both Scrum and Kanban are considered agile methodologies. They aim to promote agility, flexibility, and iterative development in project management. While they have distinct characteristics and practices, both Scrum and Kanban align with agile principles and values.