By Stasha Smiljanic

When we mention Agile methodology, the first thing that usually comes to mind is software development. But the truth is that this kind of approach to program management can find many uses across a multitude of industries.

The Agile method is known for prioritizing teamwork by using incremental, iterative work sequences that are commonly known as sprints. Agile also integrate product developers and clients into the full process and even in their sprints. A sprint is a period of time allocated for a particular phase of a project when the entire team works together on the same phase at the same time to capture constantly developing changes, inspire best practice in each other, and empower team members to optimize products during its development.

In short, the Agile method ensures that value is galvanized throughout the development process. Small business owners are starting to recognize the potential of Agile methodology. Agile practices can help with handling larger projects and improving the capacity for what the small business can complete. It is essential for any size business to reach project goals within a given time frame, an accurate budget, and a quality end product.

While small businesses have fewer resources, compared to larger organizations, they often use them very wisely and reasonably. The great news is that Agile teams can help achieve goals more effectively. Here are some great uses of this methodology for your small business.

The Agile project management approach provides…

Better flexibility and better collaboration: If you are a small business owner, you probably rely on the work of contractors, remote workers, and remote teams. Common location doesn’t play a very big role in staffing today but it demands better communication. Team communication requires setting up a fluid workplace with different kinds of productivity tools, like Asana, Meistertask, Trello, or Basecamp. These tools assist in accountability, clarity of direction on tasks, and gives general management an easier way to monitor progress. Transparency of your company’s operations equals employees with a clear, common mission who achieve their goals from myriad locations.

More organized workplace: With the Agile approach, you can improve efficiency and accuracy. Therefore the hierarchy of your company could also change. As a small business owner, you will need to split assignments differently and learn to trust your team members with different responsibilities. This way of organizing tasks will create a better channel of communication among your team and you will deliver the desired outcomes in the promised time span.

Changing the ‘’good’’ old methods: if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, you might be using manual methods to track everything because that is what you are comfortable with. Using tried-and-true methods is not the same as using the best methods for your company’s longevity. Being a leader means expanding your knowledge base for the growth of your vision. You might need a better and more elegant solution than spreadsheets and emails to tracking projects, staff, finances, and company goals. They got you this far, but the Agile method provides newer, more efficient tools for you.

Traditional approach vs. Agile project management

Adopting Agile manifesto may not be an easy task, but traditional methods are not without their flaws. Traditional project management fails to meet the challenges of changing dynamics in the small business world. These challenges are usually task-driven and predictive. On the other hand, Agile is fluid and dynamic. Agile project management inspires innovation and requires constant communication between teams, improving the team’s idea flow and troubleshooting skills. Traditional project management often focuses on processes and tools that are not subjectable to changes and have their own limits. This, as a result, requires comprehensive documentation. It is strictly about following the plan and tasks delineated in the contract.

Agile on the other hand accentuates the interaction and continual improvements. Developing the project is the main focus so quickly adopting changes is crucial. This all leads to better customer satisfaction and improved communication. With the Agile method, you can work on constant improvements, document it, and present it to customers. The customers know the best and as end-users, they play a major role in its success.

Think about the architecture and structure of your business

If you are thinking about improving your company and acquiring Agile methods, you need to consider a few important aspects. First, what is the current structure and architecture of your small business? Do you use neatly defined roles on your staff or do you have cross-functional teams in departments?  Does your business value creativity over stability? While the theory of stepping out of your comfort zone to lead your business and team into a new operations system sounds amazing, we often lack the skills and know-how to do so. Even if the methodology makes sense to you, finessing a smooth transition will be tricky for your team. There are numerous business consultants that can help you with process automation. If you don’t know what you don’t know, optimize your resources and seek professional guidance.

Team collaboration

To establish better collaboration in your team, it helps to take certain steps. Remember first that the team is only as strong as its weakest link. So learn your strengths and most importantly, identify the team’s weaknesses. Encourage initiative and allow your staff to take tasks they want to take on. Everyone on your team has unique talents. Allowing them to take ownership of team projects promotes innovation and accountability.

Allow resting. We all know that sprinting is all-encompassing and can be exhausting. So you need to let your team rest and recharge. If you decide to take another race right away, your employees won’t be motivated and it will not produce the same results as the prior sprint. You can use the rest periods to go over the notes and data collected, and evaluate what worked best about the previous sprint.

One of the most popular sayings in the modern business world is “80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your effort.” Agile methodology will help you recognize the strengths of your team and using the energy more efficiently. Ghost workflow should disappear instantly. Agile endorses completing full cycles on projects before starting another. Multi-tasking while important to life skills is often responsible for non-productive work.

Measure progress in real time, document every step and deliver

Of course, the only thing more important than impeccable teamwork when it comes to Agile methodology is delivering and measuring the results. Every part of the process is important. Keep documentation and notes during each sprint. If you by any chance fail to deliver, consult your notes to remind you in the next cycle of mistakes to avoid. You will be working in short bursts of time – so, make sure that after every cycle, you have something of value for your client.  There must be something ready for consumption after each cycle.

Conclusion

Overall, Agile methodology is an exciting and fascinating approach for small business owners who are eager to have a cutting edge in their field. By integrating product developers and customers in planning and the implementation process, the result is more rewarding for everyone involved. When Agile is done well, companies can find ways to increase the value to their customers. It also gives more meaning to those who are actively working on the project and creates a better experience for the customer, producing more generous end results for your company’s lifespan. If you found resonance with this methodology, start the process of Agile for your company’s potential.

Stasha Smiljanic is a content writer and digital marketing manager for the company WiRe Innovation, LLC based in the Twin Cities. She is very passionate about writing and creating content, interested in the small business world, startups, and entrepreneurship.

Agile team stock photo by Antonov Maxim/Shutterstock